Te Rito Foundation Family Services is a new Māori project proposing to deliver services for families of children in care and protection of Oranga Tamariki. The establishment of a family centre in Auckland is part of the plan to ensure a better, more Māori-focused approach for whānau.
"The family centre is a vision and an opportunity for our whānau, Māori and non-Māori, to have the option to choose a kaupapa Māori contact centre," says Te Rito Foundation Ltd founder and acting CEO, Raewyn Kapa.
The group have their eyes on Our Place Educare, a Māori-owned childcare drop-off centre in Botany Town Centre as a potential site. It's one of three core services that Te Rito Foundation Ltd are offering in their Family Group Services project. Their key objectives are to hear, to help and to heal people.
"How we've developed that is put them into a family centre [with] wrap-around services support including legal, social services, pastoral and clinical," says Kapa.
The team currently have 15-20 families that they are working with.
"Up and down NZ- we have young parents in Christchurch who have reached out and it's come to a state of who can they turn to to be able to get action at a level that needs to be done for them."
The owner of Our Place Educare, Melanie Elcock, is retiring her business to look after her first mokopuna. She is hopeful that the place she has invested her time and passion in for the last six years will continue to care for children and their families.
"Our mission statement here is crucial - he aha te mea nui o tēnei ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata! What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, It is people, it is people!" she says.
Te Rito Foundation will be attending the Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki hui that Whānau Ora is holding in Auckland this Saturday, where they hope doors will open in support of their project.