Ka mua, ka muri—Walking backwards into the future

Partnering with mainstream child protection services as a community-based Māta Waka organisation


  • Lashana Lewis Te Hou Ora Whānau Services
  • Shayne Walker University of Otago
  • Paula Toko King Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, University of Otago (Wellington)
  • Hunia Te Urukaiata Mackay VOYCE–Whakarongo Mai
  • Natalie Talamaivao University of Auckland
  • Daniel Anderson Te Hou Ora Whānau Services
  • Susan P Kemp University of Auckland




partnership, Māori, non-governmental organisation, child protection, Indigenous, collaboration, statutory services, community providers


INTRODUCTION: Spurred by critical reviews of Oranga Tamariki–Ministry for Children, Aotearoa New Zealand’s statutory child protection agency, and growing calls for services delivered “by Māori, for Māori, with Māori”, the New Zealand government is taking significant steps toward devolving responsibility for supporting the wellbeing of tamariki, rangatahi, and whanau Māori from the Crown to Iwi and Māori social service providers. Frequently overlooked in discussions of Crown–Māori partnerships are community-based Māta Waka (pan-tribal) organisations, which provide a range of much-needed services to tamariki, rangatahi and whānau Māori who are not mana whenua. The purpose of this Kaupapa Māori research was to examine the expectations that kaimahi working for a Māta Waka Kaupapa Māori service provider have of other organisations that: 1) partner with tamariki, rangatahi and whānau Māori; and, 2) partner with Māta Waka.

APPROACH: Drawing on findings from wānanga with kaimahi, this article illuminates the principles and values that guide their practice, using these as a foundation for exploring the complexities, challenges, and opportunities inherent in building effective partnerships with statutory child protection services on behalf of tamariki, rangatahi and whānau Māori across differences in mandate, power, world views, and guiding frameworks or tikanga Māori.

IMPLICATIONS: The study findings have implications for current Crown–Māori partnership efforts and, by extension, for the wellbeing of tamariki, rangatahi, and whānau Māori.


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How to Cite

Lewis, L., Walker, S., King, P. T., Mackay, H. T. U., Talamaivao, N., Anderson, D., & Kemp, S. P. (2023). Ka mua, ka muri—Walking backwards into the future: Partnering with mainstream child protection services as a community-based Māta Waka organisation. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 35(1), 5–20. https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol35iss1id1016



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