Tūhoe and Oranga Tamariki today signed a relationship agreement to work together to move at-risk children out of state care and into safe, loving homes - connected with their wider whanau.
The strategic partnership was signed today in Taneatua near Whakatāne.
"The most important priority which Tūhoe and Oranga Tamariki share is the protection of our children and ensuring that our tamariki who may be at risk from circumstance are found safe, secure and caring homes," Te Uru Taumatua Chair Tāmati Kruger said.
"Oranga Tamariki know which children are at risk. Tūhoe’s knowledge of whakapapa and our families means that we can provide insights into wider whānau and hapū connections than a state agency could be expected to be aware of and find safe and loving homes connected to our children."
"With Oranga Tamariki we can see the struggle in the home, neither of us want a never-ending treadmill of state care and it scares us greatly to think that our tamariki could grow up without knowing unconditional love," he said.
"These are hard problems. But we are surrounded by experienced natural caregivers in the community. We want to work with Oranga Tamariki to help them identify and assess these families without getting caught up in bureaucratic box ticking over deep community knowledge." Mr Kruger said.
Children’s Minister Tracey Martin, who attended the signing, said she was delighted that Tūhoe had signed a Relationship Agreement with Oranga Tamariki.
"The best place that children can be raised is at home, with family and whānau, and this agreement will help that to happen for Tūhoe tamariki."
"Every child deserves to be loved and safe and the more we can get early help to families the better we’ll do," Ms Martin said.
"A culture, any culture, is just culture of care for one another. Our greatest threat is a loss of care. The answer is to put care back at the centre of our approach. This partnership is the first step," Mr Kruger said.