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Te Pūtahitanga O Te Waipounamu Supports Bold And Decisive Action Around Closure Of Te Oranga

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu stands behind acting CEO of Oranga Tamariki Tā Wira Gardiner, wholeheartedly supporting his bold action to close Te Oranga, the care and protection facility in Ōtautahi. The vision of Te Oranga – to restore health and wellbeing – has been found sadly lacking in the recent media exposure of experiences for tamariki living in the facility.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu Pouārahi Helen Leahy commends the decision to close the facility at the centre of the abuse investigation. “From the moment the news broke, Tā Wira’s decisive action in standing staff down, bringing in the police, commissioning an urgent inquiry and finally shutting the doors of Te Oranga has sent a powerful signal that violence is not acceptable under any circumstances, and for that we are in full support,” Ms Leahy says.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu stands firm in their belief that accountability, transparency and cultural competency are paramount in all services carried out on behalf of the Crown, as made clear in the Public Services Act 2020. This week’s findings that staff used excessive force against a child and failed to report it are deeply disturbing, and it is appropriate that Oranga Tamariki senior leadership sought to intervene.

Ms Leahy cautions that there is still a need to ensure that the whānau involved in this incident are appropriately supported. “It is vitally important that we appreciate the whānau dynamics in any care and protection situation,” she says. “Our hope is that all of the whānau connected to the tamariki and rangatahi affected have been actively engaged with to ensure they are part of the support plan moving forward.”

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Te Oranga is based in a space which has a history of 120 years of children who have experienced trauma, or neglect of some kind. The young people currently in this residence, are arguably some of the country’s most vulnerable, with a range of high and complex needs.

“We want to be confident that the safety and wellbeing of these young people will be everyone’s priority while the inevitable investigations are established,” says Ms Leahy. “Every one of these tamariki come from whānau and families who will naturally be experiencing heightened concerns over what has been exposed in the media. Whānau Ora recognises that no child should be treated in isolation; that whānau also deserve to benefit from the commitment that the reviews will ‘right the wrongs and fix the hurt.’”

“These young people matter. We must all be held to account for keeping all of our children safe, wherever they are,” says Ms Leahy. “Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is committed to supporting the safe transition process, and keeping whānau close as the changes bed in.”



The Te Oranga facility began in 1902 as a school for girls who were neglected, needy or delinquent. In 1965 it became Kingslea Girls Training Centre, and was the sole site of Kingslea School until 2005, when the site was renovated and reopened as Te Oranga.

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