Tamariki where they belong

A family of siblings have found a stable and loving home with their wider whānau thanks to a great joint effort by iwi and Ministry staff.

Published on
9 May 2017
Boy star jumping on beach

Searching for the right caregivers

The three tamariki had spent most of their lives with non-kin caregivers. In the middle of last year the manager of the South Auckland Homai site, got in touch with Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services about contracting their worker to provide whakapapa research to help make connections to their whānau and whakapapa from the Far North. 

Respect for a child or young person’s mana, as well as the whanaungatanga responsibilities of whānau, hāpu and iwi are fundamental to achieving high expectations for Māori children and young people. These principles are a big part of the new Ministry’s focus. 

After two weeks’ research a couple from the same hapū as the siblings was found. Coincidentally, they were applying to become caregivers and jumped at the opportunity to bring Ngāti Kahu tamariki home. Homai flew the caregivers to meet them and introduced them to the tamariki. “There was a real kind of natural connection,” says social worker supervisor, Paul Jones. “The caregivers were 100% sure they wanted to care for them and the kids were so excited.”

Pōwhiri demonstrates wide support

Ngāti Kahu Iwi Social Services helped the caregivers complete their assessment and training and arrangements were made for the tamariki to visit Kaitaia.The tamariki moved north at the end of last year. Ngāti Kahu held a pōwhiri – the children’s first – attended by more than 80 people. “There must have been around 20 people in tears - it was just so special for them to have their mokopuna come home. You could feel the aroha; it was pretty emotional for everyone,” says one of the social workers.

They have settled into whānau life and are picking up te reo around the home.

Social worker

Becoming part of the whānau

“The placement is going really well. When I did a visit in early February, one of the girls said ‘thank you so much for introducing me to my new mum and dad.’ “They have settled into whānau life and are picking up te reo around the home. The sons of the whānau caregivers are treating them like their brothers and sisters.” The children’s birth parents, without previously knowing these whānau caregivers, said they were happy their tamariki were living in Kaitaia with whānau.