Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki v Gechan [2020] NZFC 11494

Published 28 July 2021

Application for orders — wardship of the court — care and protection — Care of Children Act 2004 — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. This hearing was to determine an application by the lawyer for child for the subject child to be placed in the wardship of the Court. The child was almost 16 years old and had an intellectual disability and epilepsy. A previous court decision had placed the child under the custody of Oranga Tamariki ("the Ministry") but enforcement of the custody order had been frustrated by the respondent father. The child had been attending a school tailored for children with disabilities but his father had removed him from the school, was refusing to administer the child's epilepsy medication and had not enrolled the child with a GP. Placing a child under the wardship of the court was a measure of last resort as it deprived the parents of their status as guardians of the child and should only be ordered where the child's best interest called for such a strong symbol. The Judge considered the previous judgment which detailed the father's efforts to prevent the Ministry being involved, and his failure to enrol the child in education. The child had thrived at the school which he had attended. The Judge noted the concerns that once the child attained the age of 16 it would not longer be mandatory for him to attend school, despite it being in his interest. The Judge determined that this was a case where intervention by the Court was necessary. The Judge granted the application as sought and made the child a ward of the Court, and directed that preparations be made to return the child to the school he had previously been attending. Judgment Date: 21 December 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *