We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

We start by listening to young people.

We think young people are the best people to tell us what living in residential care is like. They also have the right to be heard. As part of our visits to residences, we ask young people a range of questions based on Mana Mokopuna, our child-centred approach to monitoring. Mana Mokopuna identifies six principles – whakapapa, whanaungatanga, aroha, kaitiakitanga, rangatiratanga and mātauranga – from which a set of desired experiences for all children and young people are drawn. These principles focus intentionally on the experiences of children and young people in relation to the services they receive.

Our Mana Mokopuna-based questions cover all six international OPCAT areas as well as an additional area specific to Aotearoa New Zealand - Responsiveness to mokopuna Māori.

We ask young people about things that matter to them.

We try to talk to everyone - not just a few. During our visits to residences we make ourselves available for one- to -one conversations with as many young people as we can. What young people tell us is confidential, unless it is about something that could harm themselves or someone else. We ask them about things like their safety and access to health care, whether they have a say in decisions that affect them, if they are helped to stay in touch with whānau, and whether they have opportunities to learn about themselves, their whakapapa and the world. 

We also ask young people to show us around residences so we can see how well they are being cared for, the range of activities they take part in and what their living conditions are like. We usually eat a meal with them too, to check the quality of the food.

We talk to staff and review young people’s written plans and records.

We interview residential staff about the way they work. We also talk with health and education staff based at the residence.  We review individual care plans that staff make with young people and their whānau. These plans include information about young people’s needs and goals as well as their preferences, strengths and risks. We check the details of any serious incidents that have recently taken place - for example, when a young person is restrained (held by staff until they are calm), or when they are placed in a secure unit (an area in a residence where young people are separated from others). We review the conditions, reasons and length of time a young person is restrained or placed in a secure unit. We also check that residences have made the changes we recommended as the result of our previous visit. 

We make recommendations to improve the quality of care for young people.

During our visits, we share what we’ve learned with young people and staff. We then write a more detailed report for Oranga Tamariki and the Minister for Children. This describes what we’ve found, using quotes from young people to illustrate the themes and insights that have emerged. We take care to ensure that nothing is included, in any of our reports, that identifies the young people we’ve talked to. We assess each residence and make recommendations for individual residences and Oranga Tamariki’s national office to action.

Our reports include things residences are doing well and should keep on doing, as well as things they need to do differently. We also make recommendations about things they need to start doing. When our draft report is completed, we carry out a final check with Oranga Tamariki on the accuracy of the information on which our findings are based. We then seek Oranga Tamariki’s agreement to our recommendations. Once our report is finalised, we meet regularly with senior managers at Oranga Tamariki, to monitor the action they have taken.

If you have immediate concerns about a child's wellbeing


  • Oranga Tamariki on 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459) or
  • Police on 111

More information about the signs of abuse and neglect and how to get help (Oranga Tamariki website)

UNCROC (The Children's Convention) reporting and monitoring

UNCROC (The Children's Convention) is the only international human rights treaty that gives non-governmental organisations (NGOs) a role in monitoring its implementation.

Under UNCROC, each government has to report every five years on children's rights in their country. The UN committee examined New Zealand in September 2016, and the Office of the Children's Commissioner made this submission.

The UN concluding recommendations to New Zealand are here.

Read the full report here