An exploration of Ngāi Tūhoe aspirations for self- determination in relation to statutory child welfare : current situation and change options
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Citation:Herrmann, K. (2016). An exploration of Ngāi Tūhoe aspirations for self- determination in relation to statutory child welfare : current situation and change options. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Applied Practice (Social Practice), Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/3755
The research leading to this thesis endeavoured to obtain, firstly, an in-depth picture of how child welfare pertaining to Tūhoe children is currently executed at the social work frontline of Aotearoa / New Zealand’s state agency, named Child, Youth and Family (CYF) until 31 March 2017, thereafter Ministry for Vulnerable Children – Oranga Tamariki. Secondly, this thesis aims to describe a deeper understanding of Tūhoe wishes for their children living anywhere in New Zealand and particularly those involved in state child protection processes. In their settlement with the Crown in 2014 to address past grievances, Ngāi Tūhoe have included social and child welfare matters alongside matters of business and employment, environment, health and education. Crown ministries and agencies are committed to progressively enhance Tūhoe’s self-determination (mana motuhake) and to take practical steps for Tūhoe to manage their affairs within their core area of interest with the maximum autonomy possible in the circumstances. This research and exploration has concerned itself with what the practical steps along this pathway might look like towards the goal of improved outcomes for Tūhoe children and young people in state care, or at risk of coming into care and towards the ultimate goal of having no Tūhoe tamariki and rangatahi in state care. The analysis shows that today’s CYF social workers are well aware of the desirability of Māori children including Tūhoe to remain within their whānau/family and hapū/iwi (subtribe/tribe). In most cases however they do not have the time, supports and relevant skills and knowledge to facilitate this comprehensively and consistently. The correct identification of Tūhoe children’s tribal belonging and information of their whānau, hapū and iwi are commonly absent, incomplete or unreliable; this in turn influences all subsequent interventions including state care. Tūhoe children’s hapū and iwi are not consulted in any systematic or mandatory way. CYF sites’ staff knowledge of and relationships with iwi are mostly with those iwi in which tribal area the site is located. Differing site structures and the organisation of all child protection responsibilities have direct implications on the level and quality of interventions for children in state care. Tūhoe participants don’t experience empowerment or self-determination in the current child protection processes, e.g. Family Group Conferences, approval of caregivers for children in state care and approval requirements for Māori/iwi social services. They were adamant that Tūhoe know Tūhoe, their communities, where children will be safe and where they won’t be. Taking responsibility for Ngāi Tūhoe children with state child welfare involvement wherever they may live is without doubt seen as an intrinsic part of self-determination, however Tūhoe participants were equally clear that self-determination for Tūhoe does not involve an intention to replicate core state functions such as CYF’s and Police’s initial responses to child abuse reports. The message that abuse within whānau is unacceptable, and not historically or now a part of being Tūhoe, needs to again become Tūhoe’s message.