Ministry for Children

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Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children
Agency overview
Preceding agency
JurisdictionNew Zealand
Annual budgetVote Oranga Tamariki
Total budget for 2019/20
Ministers responsible
Agency executive
  • Gráinne Moss,
    Chief Executive
WebsiteMinistry for Children, Oranga Tamariki

Oranga Tamariki, also known as the Ministry for Children and previously the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, is a government department in New Zealand responsible for the well-being of children, specifically children at risk of harm, youth offenders and children of the State. It is the successor agency of the former department, Child, Youth and Family (CYF).[1]

Functions and structure[edit]

The minister responsible for Oranga Tamariki is the Minister for Children, a position currently held by Tracey Martin. On 31 October 2017, it was announced that the Ministry would be renamed the Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children.[3] Oranga Tamariki is guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.[4]

The organisation is headed by a Chief Executive and consists of three major clusters: "Service Delivery", "Voices and Quality", and "Enabling Functions." Services Delivery consists of a "Partnering for Outcomes" group, two "Services for Children and Families" groups (one in the North Island and one in the South Island), a "Youth Justice Services" group, and a "Care Services" group. The "Voices and Quality" cluster consists of a Tamariki Advocate/Voices of Children group and a Chief Social Worker/Professional Practice group. The "Enabling Functions" cluster consists of the "Policy, Investment and Evidence" group and a "Leadership and Organisational Development group." Each of these groups is headed by a Deputy Chief Executive.[5][6]


Oranga Tamariki is the successor organization to the former Child, Youth and Family (CYF) department, which was dissolved down by the Fifth National Government in March 2017.[1][7][8] Oranga Tamariki, initially known as the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, formally came into existence in November 2017. Following the formation of a Labour-led coalition government in October 2017, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children was renamed the Ministry for Children.[3]

2019 "Uplifting" controversy[edit]

On 11 June 2019, the news website Newsroom published a series of stories including a documentary called The Uplift criticizing Oranga Tamariki's practice of "uplifting" or separating children from their parents. Newsroom argued that Oranga Tamariki's "uplifting" policies disproportionately targeted Māori and Pasifika children, claiming that three Māori babies were being "uplifted" from their mothers a week. According to Newsroom's report, 70% of children "uplifted" in 2018 came from Māori and Pasifika backgrounds.[9][10][11]

This attracted considerable media coverage and public discussion.[12][13][14] Former Māori Party leader Dame Tariana Turia demanded the resignation of Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss.[15] By contrast, former Families Commissioner Christine Rankin defended Oranga Tamariki's actions and criticized Newsroom for allegedly spinning it into a "race issue."[16] Meanwhile, Christian advocacy group Family First New Zealand called for the Government to establish a fully independent watchdog for Oranga Tamariki.[17]

On 12 June 2019, Oranga Tamariki pursued legal action against Newsroom, seeking orders for cuts to Newsroom's The Uplift story which it disputed.[18] The agency also defended its practice of "uplifting" children, arguing that these actions were done to ensure the safety of children.[19] On 13 June, the Family Court declined Oranga Tamariki's bid to force Newsroom and news website to change details to The Uplift story.[20] In response to public interest, the Children's Minister Tracey Martin announced that she would meet with local iwi Ngāti Kahungunu and the Māori Council to defuse the situation.[21] On 16 June, Martin announced that the Government would be conducting a review into Oranga Tamariki's attempt uplifting in the case of a Hawkes Bay mother and her child. The review will be led by the Chief Social Worker at Oranga Tamariki while a person appointed by Ngāti Kahungunu will provide independent oversight.[22][23] On 18 June, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out a royal commission of inquiry into Oranga Tamariki's practices.[24]

List of Ministers for Children[edit]

The following ministers have held the office of Minister for Children.

Party key National
NZ First
No. Name Portrait Term of Office Prime Minister
1 Anne Tolley TEU Annual Conference 2009 (4095716643).jpg 20 December 2016 26 October 2017 English
2 Tracey Martin Tracey Martin.jpg 26 October 2017 present Ardern


  1. ^ a b c Kenny, Katie (28 July 2016). "Faces of Innocents: CYF to be shut down and replaced by a new ministry". Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Total Appropriations for Each Vote". Budget 2019. The Treasury.
  3. ^ a b "Ministry for Vulnerable Children is changing its name, again". 31 October 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Overview". Oranga Tamariki. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  5. ^ "About Us Brochure" (PDF). Oranga Tamariki. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  6. ^ "What we do". Oranga Tamariki. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  7. ^ Davison, Isaac (31 March 2017). "Oranga Tamariki to take over from Child, Youth and Family tomorrow". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  8. ^ McQuillan, Laura (3 April 2017). "Q&A: What's different about Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children?". Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  9. ^ "NZ's own 'taken generation'". Newsroom. 11 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  10. ^ Stone, David (11 June 2019). "An injustice we can no longer tolerate". Newsroom. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  11. ^ Jennings, Mark (11 June 2019). "Baby uplift case breached legal processes". Newsroom. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  12. ^ Dunlop, Māni (13 June 2019). "Demands for Oranga Tamariki name change, end to 'uplifting'". 1 News. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  13. ^ Parahi, Carmen (14 June 2019). "Māori will no longer tolerate the removal of babies by the state". Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  14. ^ "NZ's own stolen generation". Radio New Zealand. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  15. ^ Bateman, Sophie (13 June 2019). "Dame Tariana Turia calls for Oranga Tamariki CEO Grainne Moss to resign". Newshub. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  16. ^ Ensor, Jamie (14 June 2019). "Christine Rankin angry Oranga Tamariki uplifts becoming a race issue". Newshub. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Time For Govt To Establish Watchdog For Oranga Tamariki". Family First New Zealand. Scoop. 17 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  18. ^ Murphy, Tim (12 June 2019). "Oranga Tamariki taking Newsroom to court". Newswroom. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  19. ^ "Oranga Tamariki defends policy after alarming newborn footage". Newshub. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  20. ^ Murphy, Tim; Sachdeva, Sam (13 June 2019). "Judge declines OT action vs Newsroom". Newsroom. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  21. ^ Collins, Simon (15 June 2019). "Children's Minister steps into Oranga Tamariki baby uplift case". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  22. ^ "Inquiry announced into handling of attempted uplift of a baby in Hawke's Bay last month by Oranga Tamariki". 1 News. 16 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  23. ^ Martin, Tracey (18 June 2019). "Oranga Tamariki Review". New Zealand Government. Scoop. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Jacinda Ardern rules out royal commission of inquiry into Oranga Tamariki's practices". 1 News. 18 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2019.

External links[edit]