Part 2: Context for this audit

How well public organisations are supporting Whānau Ora and whānau centred approaches.

In this Part, we outline:

How Whānau Ora works

Whānau Ora was introduced after the Taskforce into whānau-centred Initiatives' 2010 report was published.4 The Taskforce developed an evidence-based framework designed to create a joined-up and cost-effective approach to improving whānau well-being.

The framework suggested overarching outcomes for whānau. The framework also outlined some characteristics that the Taskforce considered should underpin the development of other whānau-centred approaches.

Soon after the 2010 report, the then Government set up Whānau Ora.

Whānau Ora was implemented in two phases. The first phase focused on developing the capability of community organisations to deliver whānau-centred services. The second phase involved setting up an approach to commissioning services from those community organisations.

During the first phase, Te Puni Kōkiri set up the Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund. Any whānau could apply for this fund by completing and submitting a plan for achieving their aspirations and/or improving their well-being.

As part of building the capability of community organisations and administering the fund, Te Puni Kōkiri contracted community organisations to employ Whānau Ora navigators. The navigators would provide "a coordinated approach to whānau development and provide a dedicated resource to help whānau planning".5

The Whānau Ora commissioning approach

The second (and current) phase began in 2013, when Cabinet agreed to set up the Whānau Ora commissioning approach. Under this approach, community organisations would become responsible for commissioning whānau-centred services.

The intent of the commissioning approach is that funding decisions are made as close as possible to local communities. This gives the commissioning agencies the flexibility to invest in different initiatives and services designed to best meet the needs and aspirations of the whānau they serve.

In 2014, Te Puni Kōkiri contracted three commissioning agencies:

  • Te Pou Matakana (which now trades under the name Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency);
  • Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu; and
  • Pasifika Futures.

Te Pou Matakana/Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency

Te Pou Matakana is responsible for commissioning Whānau Ora services to support families and whānau throughout the North Island. It was co-founded by three Māori organisations.

The first two co-owners are Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust and the Manukau Urban Māori Authority. These are both non-government organisations focused on supporting the well-being and aspirations of Māori in Auckland. They were established in the mid-1980s.

In 2008, several Māori organisations throughout the North Island formed the National Urban Māori Authority. The National Urban Māori Authority is a collective focused on "influencing and advancing Māori economic and social development".6 It is the third co-owner of Te Pou Matakana.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is responsible for commissioning Whānau Ora services to support whānau throughout the South Island.

It was founded by all nine South Island iwi: Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Tama ki te Waipounamu, Te Ātiawa o te Waka-a-Māui, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and Ngāti Koata.

It is governed in partnership by a council of iwi representatives known as Te Taumata.

In June 2022, Ngāi Tahu and Te Taumata jointly announced that Ngāi Tahu would be leaving the partnership. They intend to exercise their kaitiaki responsibilities and rangatiratanga by partnering directly with the Crown.

Pasifika Futures

Pasifika Futures is responsible for commissioning Whānau Ora services to support ‘aiga Pasifika throughout the country. It was set up by the Pasifika Medical Association Group.

The Pasifika Medical Association Group is a collective founded by Pasifika medical professionals in 1996 as a forum for Pasifika health workers and students. It also owns two integrated primary care, mental health, and well-being providers in Christchurch and Auckland, which are also Whānau Ora providers.

The Whānau Ora Outcomes Framework

Te Puni Kōkiri contracts with the Whānau Ora commissioning agencies to progress and achieve outcomes.

In 2015, the Whānau Ora Outcomes Framework was agreed between the Iwi Chairs Forum and the then Government. Under the framework, Whānau Ora initiatives and services aim to support whānau to:

  • be self-managing;
  • lead healthy lifestyles;
  • participate fully in society;
  • confidently participate in te ao Māori;
  • be economically secure and successfully involved in wealth creation;
  • be cohesive, resilient, and nurturing; and
  • be responsible stewards of their natural and living environments.

The framework outlines short-, medium-, and long-term goals for these seven outcome areas.

Whānau Ora commissioning in practice

Each commissioning agency can set their own outcomes frameworks, goals, and commissioning approaches to meet the aspirations and needs of the whānau they serve. The only requirement is that the goals and approaches contribute to achieving the outcomes in the Whānau Ora Outcomes Framework.

Pasifika Futures, for example, has an outcomes framework driven by the aspirations of Pasifika families. Pasifika Futures developed its outcomes framework after consulting with 1500 Pasifika families from Kaitaia to Invercargill. The outcomes framework identifies short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes across five domains:

  • Succeeding in education through lifelong learning.
  • Healthy lives seeing families living longer and better.
  • Economically independent and resilient families with financial freedom.
  • Supporting community connections through leading and caring for families, community, and country.
  • Resilient and responsive communities to emergencies.

The commissioning approaches of Te Pou Matakana/Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency

Te Pou Matakana distributes its funding based on the number of Māori in each region of the North Island. Its commissioning approaches include Whānau Direct, Collective Impact, and Ngā Tini Whetū.

The Whānau Direct approach offers annual grants of $1,000 for each whānau to support them "in moments that matter most to them".7 The whānau who tend to access this programme often have very high needs – for example, in 2021/22, about 90% of those who accessed Whānau Direct had a household income of less than $40,000 a year.

The Collective Impact approach co-ordinates a group of participants from different sectors and organisations for the purpose of solving a specific social issue.

Ngā Tini Whetū, an initiative developed with Te Puni Kōkiri, Oranga Tamariki, and the Accident Compensation Corporation, supports whānau to achieve their aspirations and works with them when they identify early signs of need.

The commissioning approaches of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu takes a social impact approach to its commissioning. It invests directly in initiatives that whānau or community groups have developed. It operates several workstreams through which initiatives and projects are commissioned, including Wave funding, Ruia, Te Kīwai, Tama Ora, Kōanga Kai, Te Punanga Haumaru, and Tai Neke, Tai Ora.

Wave funding is available once or twice a year to individuals, whānau, community groups, and businesses wanting to run an initiative or programme that will support them and their hapori (community).

Ruia is a partnership between Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the Rātā Foundation, and the Ministry for Youth Development. It provides funding to support rangatahi well-being, intergenerational leadership, succession planning, and cultural development.

Te Kīwai and Tama Ora were both developed in partnership with Sport New Zealand. Te Kīwai involves one-off funding to support Māori well-being through play, active recreation, and sport. Tama Ora are year-long agreements providing pathways for rangatahi to stay active. It has a focus on mental well-being and hinengaro outcomes for tamariki and rangatahi.

Kōanga Kai aims to encourage whānau rangatiratanga by building healthy and sustainable kai production practices. It provides physical resources and coaching to equip whānau to participate in communal gardens or create gardens in their homes.

Te Punanga Haumaru focuses on preventing family violence, sexual violence, and suicide.

Tai Neke, Tai Ora is focused on physical well-being.

The commissioning approaches of Pasifika Futures

Pasifika Futures' commissioning approaches include Innovative Pacific Solutions, Strengthen Community Partnerships, Strengthen Community Resilience, and Core Navigation Support.

The Innovative Pacific Solutions approach works with partners to support families to achieve their aspirations in one or more outcome areas.

The Strengthen Community Partnerships approach (also referred to as the small grants fund) helps small community organisations that work with largely volunteer groups to support Pasifika families.

The Strengthen Community Resilience approach supports families to overcome and build resilience to the challenges of living through and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Core Navigation Support approach works with families to design, develop, and deploy their own solutions.

Whānau Ora navigators

All three commissioning agencies also fund a navigation service. Whānau Ora navigators (sometimes known as kaiārahi) can play a key role in developing whānau strengths. They also build strong relationships with and between whānau, communities, and service providers.

Whānau Ora navigators can help whānau to identify their goals and aspirations and prepare a plan and the means to achieve them. Depending on what whānau want, Whānau Ora navigators can provide direct mentoring to develop the strengths and capability of each whānau.

Whānau Ora navigators can also identify other support to assist whānau with their goals and aspirations. This support can come from the wider community and/or services that public organisations provide or fund.

The ways that Whānau Ora navigators work varies throughout the country, to suit the local needs and aspirations of whānau and to reflect the mātauranga (traditional knowledge and ways of working) of different communities throughout the country.

In 2019/20, the annual reports from the Whānau Ora commissioning agencies stated that 157,935 whānau received Whānau Ora services. In 2020/21, the year the Whānau Ora commissioning agencies received discrete funding for the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, 326,809 whānau throughout the country – a total of 978,398 people – received Whānau Ora services.

Tipu Matoro ki te Ao: The 2018 Whānau Ora ministerial review report

In April 2018, the Minister for Whānau Ora appointed an independent panel to review Whānau Ora. The review panel was to:

  • assess the ability of the Whānau Ora commissioning approach to effect sustainable change in the well-being and development potential of whānau;
  • explore the extent to which the Whānau Ora service delivery model and commissioning approach is accountable and transparent in the achievement of outcomes for whānau; and
  • scope the applicability of a whānau-centred approach as a useful exemplar for improving outcomes for whānau across government with an emphasis on the social sector.8

In November 2018, the review panel completed its final report, Tipu Matoro ki te Ao. The review found that Whānau Ora has created positive change for whānau and created the conditions for that change to be sustainable.

The review concluded that Whānau Ora meets the requirements of a structured accountability system and operates in a transparent manner.

However, the review also said that government agencies lacked understanding of Whānau Ora, which had affected their commitment to it. The review was also concerned that government agencies were opting out of their responsibilities to provide services to whānau and expecting Whānau Ora providers to provide those services instead.

The 2013 Cabinet paper establishing the Whānau Ora commissioning approach made several references to the anticipated roles of public organisations. The Cabinet paper included a general expectation that Ministers and public organisations provide "complementary effort" for Whānau Ora. It also outlined a general expectation that public organisations identify opportunities for the Crown and iwi "to support the shared development aims and aspirations of iwi and their whānau and hapū; membership." For example, it identifies the following action as a "critical success factor" for the Whānau Ora commissioning approach:

Lead sector departments continue to foster and build service capability, delivery and partnering opportunities with the Whānau Ora collectives in order to achieve improved outcomes for vulnerable families and their members.

The Whānau Ora ministerial review pointed to several decisions made by the Whānau Ora Partnership Group9 that indicated the nature and extent of the complementary effort expected from other public organisations. For example, the Partnership Group agreed:

  • to develop a tool kit and guideline for effective regional engagement with iwi and Whānau Ora providers and improved uptake of Whānau Ora; and
  • that government agencies and iwi report to the Partnership Group annually on the nature of their engagement with each other and their uptake of Whānau Ora.

The Whānau Ora ministerial review recommended that the Government:

  • continue and grow the investment in the Whānau Ora Commissioning Approach;
  • ensure that government agencies meet their own service delivery responsibilities and commit to engaging with Whānau Ora; and
  • extend the effort of Te Puni Kōkiri to provide a greater sense of leadership of Whānau Ora within government, and to better support other agencies to engage in Whānau Ora.10

The review also noted that whānau-centred approaches could be applied more widely throughout government and made several recommendations to achieve this. These recommendations included completing a whānau-centred policy framework for all of government and improving the quality and availability of data about whānau.

The review considered that a culture shift within government was needed. It recommended that Te Puni Kōkiri work with other public organisations to capitalise on opportunities and address the perceived barriers that are preventing public organisations from supporting Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches more generally.

Te Puni Kōkiri has a strategic focus on whānau-centred approaches

The Minister for Whānau Ora considered the recommendations of the Whānau Ora ministerial review at the same time Te Puni Kōkiri was being repositioned to increase strategic impact. In June 2019, the then Minister for Māori Development advised her Cabinet colleagues of her intention to:

position Te Puni Kōkiri to exert greater leadership and influence on the public sector system to support our government to gain momentum in impacting Māori wellbeing outcomes.11

Later that month, the Minister for Whānau Ora informed Cabinet of his response to Tipu Matoro ki te Ao. He outlined his vision for:

Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches to be integral to policies, programmes and services throughout the government to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.12

The Minister for Whānau Ora signalled that achieving this vision needs greater investment "beyond just Vote Māori Development".13 He said that a whānau-centred approach to policy, programmes, and services needs to be embedded in all government agencies. He noted that Te Puni Kōkiri was continuing to provide strategic leadership for Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches throughout the public sector.

Te Puni Kōkiri has a strategic framework that reflects the Minister's vision.

To contribute to its overall vision of "thriving whānau", Te Puni Kōkiri has three strategic priorities with nine supporting focus areas. The first of these strategic focus areas is to grow the influence of whānau-centred policy and the investment in Whānau Ora across government and into communities.14

Te Puni Kōkiri has four-year performance targets for this strategic focus area. They are:

  • an increased number of partnership arrangements to deliver Whānau Ora into communities;
  • increased investment and commitment for Whānau Ora policy and investment by public organisations; and
  • an increased number of whānau-centred policy approaches across government.15

The roles and responsibilities of Te Puni Kōkiri

Te Puni Kōkiri is responsible for supporting the Minister for Whānau Ora and administering the appropriations for Whānau Ora.

In 2019, the Minister for Māori Development signalled that there would be a strategic repositioning of Te Puni Kōkiri. Shortly after, the leadership team and organisational functions of Te Puni Kōkiri were restructured, including the way it administered Whānau Ora.

In the previous structure, a single team was responsible for administering Whānau Ora and servicing the Minister for Whānau Ora. This meant that work on Whānau Ora had become isolated from the rest of Te Puni Kōkiri.

The restructure was intended to spread responsibility for Whānau Ora policy, strategy, investment, contracts, and Ministerial servicing across several teams. This restructure is now complete and was being embedded when we began our audit.

Funding for Whānau Ora

The appropriations for Whānau Ora include funding for Te Puni Kōkiri staff to progress the implementation, development, administration, and evaluation of Whānau Ora. They also include funding the outcomes contracts with the three Whānau Ora commissioning agencies. The bulk of the total appropriation is funding for the Whānau Ora commissioning approach.

In 2021/22, the total funding for all Whānau Ora commissioning agencies was about $214.8 million. This included about $105.2 million of one-off funding to assist with the Covid-19 pandemic response.

The total budget for all Whānau Ora commissioning agencies for 2022/23 was about $135 million.

The work programme of Te Puni Kōkiri for Whānau Ora

Te Puni Kōkiri secured further funding to enable Whānau Ora commissioning agencies and providers to support whānau affected by Covid-19.

Te Puni Kōkiri has also been heavily involved in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has played a key role in work on Māori vaccination and administering the Māori Communities Covid-19 Fund. This fund supports iwi, hapū, and Māori organisations to achieve higher levels of vaccination and resilience against Covid-19.

This additional work has affected the capacity of Te Puni Kōkiri to grow whānau-centred approaches to policy and service development since 2020. Nonetheless, Te Puni Kōkiri has continued to implement the Whānau Ora ministerial review's other recommendations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For example, Te Puni Kōkiri is trialling localised commissioning. This is a model where regional organisations plan and commission Whānau Ora services instead of one of the Whānau Ora commissioning agencies. The trials for localised commissioning are taking place in Tokoroa (with Raukawa Settlement Trust), Te Wairoa (with Te Whare Maire o Tapuwae Charitable Trust), and the Western Bay of Plenty (with Huria Trust).

Te Puni Kōkiri is also partnering with other government agencies for two initiatives: Paiheretia Te Muka Tāngata (see page 35) and Ngā Tini Whetū (see page 49).

Te Puni Kōkiri has also started two other pieces of work as part of its Whānau Ora work programme. The first is an operational review that looks at how various parts of Te Puni Kōkiri support its Whānau Ora work and future work programme. The second is a governance review to consider new governance arrangements for Whānau Ora to permanently replace the Partnership Group that stopped operating in 2017.

4: Taskforce on whānau-centred Initiatives (2010), Whānau Ora: Report of the Taskforce on whānau-centred Initiatives at

5: Te Puni Kōkiri (2015), Understanding whānau-centred approaches, page 24, at

6: National Urban Māori Authority, “About us”, at

7: Te Pou Matakana, "What We Do – Programmes", at

8: Whānau Ora Review Panel (2018), Tipu Matoro ki te Ao, paragraph 3, at

9: The Whānau Ora Partnership Group was set up at the direction of Cabinet in 2014 to provide governance of Whānau Ora. It was made up of six iwi representatives nominated by the Iwi Chairs Forum and six Ministers, and was supported by public officials. However, the partnership group stopped operating in 2017. In 2019, the Minister for Whānau Ora indicated to Cabinet that he wanted to reconsider governance arrangements but that he had not yet put permanent alternative arrangements in place.

10: Whānau Ora Review Panel (2018), Tipu Matoro ki te Ao, page 8, at

11: Cabinet paper (2019), Positioning Te Puni Kōkiri for Strategic Impact, paragraph 4, recommendations 5 and 6, at

12: Cabinet paper (2019), Whānau Ora – Lasting change: Response to the review findings, paragraphs 5 and 19, at

13: Cabinet paper (2019), Whānau Ora – Lasting change: Response to the review findings, paragraph 8, at

14: Te Puni Kōkiri (2020), He Takunetanga Rautaki | Strategic Intentions 2020-2024, pages 5, 6, and 26, at

15: Te Puni Kōkiri (2020), He Takunetanga Rautaki | Strategic Intentions 2020-2024, page 27, at