Reports highlight value of Whānau Ora approach

Wed 08 Nov 2023

Reports on two Whānau Ora commissioning agencies highlight the value of the Whānau Ora approach for improving people’s lives and return on investment.

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Reports highlight value of Whānau Ora approach

Whānau Ora continues to show that devolving decisions and resources to communities and a flexible, holistic whānau-led approach is effective for solving complex problems and improving wellbeing.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu evaluation

A recently released evaluation of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu by Ihi Research found both ‘tangible and intangible’ impacts.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is the Whānau Ora commissioning agency for all of Te Waipounamu. It is a partnership between 8 Iwi of Te Waipounamu (Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Rangitāne and Ngāti Rārua).

The evaluation looked at Wave 16 of Te Pūtahitanga commissioning, from August 2022 to August 2023, to determine return on investment, as well as impact on whānau. The report, Evaluation of Wave 16 Kaupapa Initiatives for Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu (2023), notes that more traditional government initiatives that focus on service provision tend to have little impact, whereas investments focused on developing capability, such as Whānau Ora, have more potential for impact.

Government funding for Wave 16 was approximately $3 million. The narrowest estimate of value from that investment was $4 million, based on a fraction of the initiatives funded. Real value could be up to $444 million. Interviews with whānau and kaupapa entities showed “ a small investment in whānau capability has ‘turned the dial’ for many whānau from state dependency and/or subsistence living towards financial independence and wealth creation” and how “...initiatives have contributed to cohesive, resilient, and nurturing whānau relationships.”

The evaluation also found:

“Whānau speak of improved whānau dynamics, improved standards of living, financial independence, extended whānau and community networks, being able to engage and positively contribute to broader civic matters (e.g., COVID-19, sports and recreation, community health), and strengthened relationships and new networks with increased opportunities as a result.”

Despite this, the report notes that "Whānau Ora receives a fraction of government spending when compared to other government agencies, despite the failure of these agencies to positively impact the lives of whānau.”

The report recommends expanding government investment in the commissioning approach of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, and investing in longitudinal research to show the intergenerational impacts of the approach.

Ngā Tini Whetū

The findings and recommendations above are also consistent with the report, E Tipu, E Rea – Ngā Tini Whetū – The Collateral Change For Reducing Child Poverty 2022. The report outlines the experience of the Ngā Tini Whetū pilot undertaken by the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, and jointly funded by ACC, Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Ngā Tini Whetū is a whānau centred, locally-led, and ground up approach to tamariki wellbeing. It is significant as a step towards devolving resources to communities. It was piloted in 7 regions of Te Ika-a-Māui in 2019. As a result of the pilot, the report found improvements in whānau housing, transport, business development, employment and education, and debt reduction and financial resilience. The report shows:

“Ngā Tini Whetū provides a model for how resources can be devolved to kaupapa Māori, wraparound and whānau-centered approaches in order to address child poverty and improve wellbeing outcomes.”

The pilot identified 6 ‘key levers of change’ in the success of the approach for reducing child poverty and improving wellbeing for whānau and tamariki:

  • Cross-sectoral approaches—collaboration between agencies meant they could pool resources and expertise.
  • Holistic, wrap-around support for whānau—support was tailored to each whānau’s needs and aspirations.
  • Whakawhanaungatanga—focusing on relationships with whānau, culturally-appropriate support, and a strength-based approach built trust and confidence with whānau.
  • Whakapapa and identity—whānau could reconnect with their culture and heritage, which led to improved wellbeing.
  • Being trauma-informed and healing focused—support took into account prior experiences of trauma and worked to address these issues.
  • Direct funding—Te Kete Oranga provided direct funding to whānau, which meant they could access services and support when they needed it.

The report found:

“Over the past two years, Ngā Tini Whetū has shown the value of a cross-sectoral approach and a high-trust model where responsibility for funding decisions lies with communities. It serves as a blueprint for a new way of building relationships and reporting outcomes between government agencies and the communities they are supposed to serve. Ngā Tini Whetū is unique in that it recognises that ultimately, the solutions for change must come from within whānau and the community, not from government agencies or outside organisations. Whānau are best placed to identify their own aspirations and goals, and Ngā Tini Whetū is committed to supporting them on this journey.”

The report outlines a number of recommendations, including:

“...prioritising the devolution of resources to kaupapa Māori, wraparound and whānau-centered approaches and kaupapa at the community and whānau-level, utilising Ngā Tini Whetū as a blueprint for how this can take place.”

“...workforce development, including more funding and training for Whānau Ora Navigators (Kaiārahi).”

“..more research to be undertaken on the impact of Ngā Tini Whetū. This should include resourcing the development of a kaupapa Māori evidence base that captures the impact of Ngā Tini Whetū on whānau and their tamariki.”

For more information about Ngā Tini Whetū see the related reports: Ngā Tini Whetū – The Blueprint for System Change (2022) from the Whānau Ora commissioning agency and Ngā Tini Whetū | Lessons Learnt (2021) by Aiko Consultants. Also see the related media below.

Related news

Previous reports from the Family Violence Death Review Committee and Auditor-General both found that the public sector is struggling to design and work in ways that support whānau aspirations and needs and that are consistent with the aims of Whānau Ora.

The Family Violence Death Review Committee’s 8th report highlights Ngā Tini Whetū as an example of whānau-led decision-making, but also discusses infrastructure challenges to collaboration that hold back such prototypes from progressing to a business-as-usual approach.

The Auditor-General's report, How well public organisations are supporting Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches, highlighted limited progress towards supporting Whānau Ora (the funding programme under Te Puni Kōkiri) and whānau-centred approaches, despite several reports finding that Whānau Ora is successful for many whānau. For more information see the article State organisations fail Whānau Ora - Auditor General from Te Ao Māori news and the article Public sector slated for slow adoption of whanau ora from Waatea News.

Related media

Whānau Ora adored, Waatea News, 24.11.2023

Whānau ora lessons in resilience celebrated at northern regions hui, Whānau Ora media release, 22.11.2023

Whānau ora a tikanga, not a kaupapa, Waatea News, 22.11.2023

Data driving case for Whānau Ora, Waatea News, 22.11.2023

Whānau Ora Lessons in Resilience Celebrated in the Rebuild Back from COVID & Cyclones, Waatea News, 21.11.2023

It’s back to the the future for our youngest MP Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke, NZ Herald, 22.11.2023

Whānau Ora to give new govt ‘hope’ in social return, Te Karere TVNZ, 21.11.2023

Whitney Nicholls-Potts | Te Pae Herenga o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective produces, Waatea News, 06.11.2023

Māori Health should not be a Political Football : Hāpai te Hauora & E Tipu E Rea Whānau Services, NZ Doctor, 27.09.2023

Whānau Ora delivering on investment, Waatea News, 25.09.2023

Whānau Ora investment in South Island Māori more than doubles cost-benefit, Stuff, 22.09.2023

$2.7m investment in Māori businesses pays off, Te Ao Māori News, 22.09.2023 (also see the interview with Tā Mark Solomon from Te Ao Māori news on Te Ao Tapatahi)

Whānau Ora investment in South Island Māori more than doubles cost-benefit, Stuff, 22.09.2023

Whānau-centred commissioning approach ‘turning the dial’ for Māori in Te Waipounamu, Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu media release, 21.09.2023

Report highlights lessons for public organisations supporting improved outcomes for Māori, Office of the Auditor-General media release, 01.06.2023

Agencies showing interest in Whānau Ora models but more needs to be done for change, Te Ao Māori News, 17.05.2023

'We can achieve wonderful things' - Reducing child poverty for Māori whānau, RNZ, 14.05.2023

Ngā Tini Whetū pilot proves worth, Waatea News, 12.05.2023

Whānau Ora reports highlight success of kaupapa Māori pilot to reduce child poverty, Stuff, 12.05.2023

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait | Chair for the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency, Waatea News, 12.05.2023

Report finds Whānau Ora model is changing whānau lives for the better, Te Ao Māori News, 11.05.2023

Report a blueprint to reduce child poverty, Waatea News, 11.05.2023 (also see the Waatea interview with Minister Peeni Henare)

Whānau Ora releases two reports to reduce child poverty in Aotearoa, Te Karere TVNZ [in Te Reo Māori and English], 11.05.2023

Tini Whetu a Ministry Collaboration Proves Successful, Te Hiku Media [in Te Reo Māori], 11.05.2023

Whānau ora minister releases reports to reduce child poverty, and describes it as ’emotional’, Whānau Ora media release, 11.05.2023


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