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Result 4 Case Study 4

Sub-tropical Tai Tokerau sits at the northernmost tip of New Zealand, and is among the most naturally beautiful and culturally significant of our regions.

Sadly, the incredible highlights of the region are not always matched by its social conditions. Many children and young people in Tai Tokerau have significant health, education, social and economic needs. For Child, Youth and Family, concern about Northland’s children and young people has been a call to action.

To strengthen services and focus strongly on local needs, a new leadership team has been dedicated to Tai Tokerau (which was previously part of Child, Youth and Family’s Northern region, including Auckland).

Tai Tokerau Regional Director Marion Heeney says key goals are to build leadership, organisational culture and local relationships, improve practice quality and strengthen support for local staff.

“Our staff live and work in a very challenging environment,” she says. “There have been some particularly challenging cases during the past 18 months, including cases with multiple young victims and clusters of youth suicides.”

Last year was a particularly difficult one for the town of Kaitaia, with two high-profile sexual abuse cases and multiple child victims. The cases rocked the small town and its closely-connected community.

Marion Heeney says staff rose to the challenge and were commended by the Police for their work with the young victims.

As a result, Child, Youth and Family contracted Te Rarawa to place one of their social workers within Kaitaia College, dedicated to the young people at the school.

The regional team is also engaging with the community, building partnerships and working closely with community organisations.

For example, Ngäpuhi Iwi Social Services and Child, Youth and Family have signed up to a partnership to place vulnerable Ngapuhi children with Ngapuhi caregivers wherever possible.

A partnership with Te Aupouri Social Services has seen the Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) programme expanded from five to 30 schools. This means 2,500 far North students now have access to a social worker through their school.

Child, Youth and Family staff are also working with a range of community and government agencies to reduce the incidence and impact of youth suicide on families, friends and the wider community.

Marion Heeney says Tai Tokerau staff have really stepped up to the challenge and worked incredibly hard.

“We’ve made significant progress in our own social work practice and collaborative work with partner agencies over the past 18 months.

“The members of the regional team, several of them coming from outside Tai Tokerau, have made a commitment to live and work here. These folks have fallen in love with Northland and discovered it’s a great place to live and work. We are loving our work up here and the opportunity we’ve had to be part of strengthening our services.

“He aha te mea nui o te ao? Mäku e ki atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata – What is the most important thing in this world? It is people, it is people, it is people.”

Key facts

  • Tai Tokerau region of Child, Youth and Family extends from Te Hana to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand
  • 60 social workers* and the Youth Justice team serve the communities and families of Tai Tokerau from sites at Whangarei, Dargaville, Kaikohe and Kaitaia.

*Full-time equivalent.

  • Key local partners include NZ Police, Northland DHB, Ministry of Education, Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa, Ngati Kahu, Nga-puhi Iwi Social Services, Ngati Hine Health Trust, Whangarei Children’s Team, Northland Intersectoral Forum, Family Works Northern, Barnados, Pa O Te Ora and He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust.

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