Our intentions: Looking at how well the public sector is supporting the Whānau Ora approach

4 November 2021: Whānau Ora is an approach that supports whānau and families to build on their strengths to achieve their aspirations in life. We’re looking at how well the public sector supports the Whānau Ora approach.

Whānau Ora represents a fundamentally different approach to improving well-being. It takes a whānau-centred, strengths-based approach that aims to empower whānau to achieve positive change in their lives, supported by services tailored to whānau needs and aspirations.

The implementation of Whānau Ora involves contracting non-government commissioning agencies to fund Whānau Ora services to work with whānau and help them access the support they need.  This includes services and support provided or funded by public organisations. Grounded in te ao Māori, Whānau Ora services are available to all whānau and families in New Zealand.

As well as investing in direct support to whānau, Te Puni Kōkiri aims to grow whānau-centred approaches by influencing the way in which services are planned, funded, and delivered by public organisations.

As we noted in our 2015 audit, Whānau Ora appears to have been a success for many whānau. A Ministerial review in 2018 found that Whānau Ora creates positive change for whānau and creates the conditions for that change to be sustainable. However, departing from standard ways of providing services has been a challenge for some public organisations. The Ministerial review raised concerns about how well some government agencies understand and support the approach, and how they have adapted their systems and processes to enable whānau-centred ways of working.

It is therefore timely for us to follow up on how well public organisations are supporting the Whānau Ora approach.

What we’re focusing on

We will provide Parliament and the public with an independent view on how well the public sector supports Whānau Ora services and broader whānau-centred approaches.

To do this, we will consider:

  • how well Te Puni Kōkiri is managing and providing leadership for Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches; and
  • how well public organisations are supporting Whānau Ora and other whānau-centred approaches.

The difference we expect to make

This performance audit is a chance to share ways to strengthen Whānau Ora by highlighting good practice and by showing where improvements can be made. These could include public organisations changing the way they work to better support Whānau Ora services (for example, changing their funding, contracting, and reporting requirements).

Our work could identify changes that public organisations can make to their policy advice or operations to improve how they plan, fund, or deliver services to whānau and how agencies more broadly work together to support key government initiatives.

This performance audit is part of our programme of work looking at how well the public sector is contributing to improved outcomes for Māori. We have two other related pieces of work due for completion in the first half of 2022: research on Māori perspectives on public accountability, and a performance audit on the effectiveness of government initiatives aimed at supporting outcomes for Māori.

Please use the feedback form on the right if you’d like to speak to a staff member about this audit, make a suggestion, or ask a question.

We expect to complete this work in mid-2022.