Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki v RB [2021] NZFC 2754

Published 26 November 2021

Reserved decision — care and protection — placement — wellbeing and best interests — mana tamaiti — whakapapa — whanaungatanga — whanau — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 4, 5, 7AA, 11, 13, 14, 78, 101, 110, 131 & 178 — Care of Children Act 2004 — United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, arts 5, 9, 14 & 18 — Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki v AR [2020] NZFC 4046 — Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki v BH [2021] NZFC 210 — The Green Paper for Vulnerable Children (Ministry of Social Development, July 2011) — The White Paper for Vulnerable Children (Ministry of Social Development, October 2012) — Modernising Child, Youth and Family Expert Panel, Modernising Child, Youth and Family: Interim Report (Ministry of Social Development, July 2015) — Modernising Child, Youth and Family Expert Panel, Expert Panel Final Report: Investing in New Zealand’s Children and Their Families (Ministry of Social Development, December 2015). The hearing was to consider the placement for two young children who had been found to be in need of care and protection. Oranga Tamariki sought s 101 and s 110 orders under the Oranga Tamariki Act in favour of the children being placed with their maternal grandmother. Since the uplift, the children had been living with caregivers that had a familial connection to their paternal family. These caregivers also applied for s 101 and s 110 orders. Both the caregivers and the maternal grandmother additionally applied for orders under the Care of Children Act, but the parties later agreed that any orders should be made under the former Act. A cultural report commissioned by Oranga Tamariki to fulfil their obligations under s 7AA provided significant background information and informed the Court's decision. The Judge considered ss 5 and 13 and concluded that the children's placement with the caregivers would best facilitate an ongoing relationship with the children's parents. Their background in early childhood care placed them in a strong position to manage two young children. While the maternal grandmother could provide a connection to the children's maternal heritage, hapū and iwi, the Court held that this would still be able to be facilitated through a care or extended access environment instead. Placement with the caregivers would also allow the children to have a relationship with their half-sibling, and continuity of their current environment and community. The maternal grandmother was appointed as an additional guardian, and counselling was directed to address the discord between the parties, for the benefit of the children. Judgment Date: 1 April 2021. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *