Whānau Ora Kaupapa

Find out how Whānau Ora works, how it has evolved and the ways it is being implemented through government agencies working with local providers.

Last updated: Friday, 1 July 2022 | Rāmere, 01 Hōngongoi, 2022

Whānau Ora was launched in 2010 as an innovative approach to support whānau wellbeing and development.

Its whānau-centred services focus on the whānau as a whole and build on whānau strengths to deliver brighter futures. The services:

  • enable whānau to determine their own future
  • place whānau at the centre with an emphasis on collective rather than individual thinking
  • are based on whānau strengths and acknowledge whānau values, aspirations, and needs
  • promote te ao Māori concepts while acknowledging whānau diversity
  • measure effectiveness based on outcomes
  • enhance collaboration and integration across government.

Whānau-centred government-funded initiatives enabling Whānau Ora include the work of Commissioning Agencies, providers, iwi and other local commissioning.

Dame Tariana Turia, who led its establishment, said Whānau Ora is about empowering whānau to take control of their future.
“What we want for our whānau is to be self-determining, to be living healthy lifestyles, to be participating fully in society and to be economically secure.”
She has said Whānau Ora is about self-determination: “to know ourselves, our strengths, our challenges and chart our own course.”


Standard ways of delivering social and health services don’t work best for whānau Māori and many other populations in Aotearoa because they operate in the context of their whānau, hapū, iwi and communities.

With Whānau Ora, community-based organisations work with partners, providers, and navigators to deliver customised support and services to whānau Māori, and Pacific and Pākehā families.

Whānau Ora recognises the strengths and abilities of whānau to determine their futures and support and develop opportunities that fulfil potential.

Whānau Ora is transformative because it puts whānau at the centre of decision making about their future. It identifies the strengths whānau already have and how they can be used to meet their immediate needs and achieve their longer-term aspirations.

It joins up all the wellbeing factors while recognising each whānau is different and needs a plan that suits them to help them gain control over their lives.

The whānau-centred approach:

  • starts by asking whānau and families what they want to achieve for themselves, and then responding to those aspirations to realise whānau potential
  • provides flexible support for whānau and families to move beyond crisis into identifying and achieving medium and long-term goals for sustained change
  • focuses on relationships, self-direction and building skills for whānau to achieve positive long-term outcomes
  • uses a joined-up approach of all factors relevant to whānau wellness - economic, cultural, environmental, and social
  • recognises each whānau has different needs, and what works well for one whānau does not work well for others
  • recognises whānau and families have skills, knowledge and experiences contributing to their become more self-managing and independent.

The Government is enabling Whānau Ora to become inherent in everything agencies do, especially their service delivery.

Because delivering whānau-centred services is best done by the community, government is enabling local solutions and local approaches, as part of being nimble and embedding the kaupapa.


Embedding whānau-centred approaches

Te Puni Kōkiri is leading the work of embedding whānau-centred approaches and building understanding and connectedness of Whānau Ora among government agencies and the wider public. This includes joint projects

  • with Te Ara Poutama (Corrections) and Ministry for Social Development (Paiheretia Te Muka Tāngata - link to Paiheretia section) to improve outcomes for tāne Māori and their whānau connected to the Corrections system
  • early support programme, Ngā Tini Whetu (add link to NTW section) with Oranga Tamariki and ACC.

Whānau Ora complements rather than replaces the services for which Government agencies are responsible.

Commissioning agencies

Commissioning Agencies are contracted by Te Puni Kōkiri to invest in initiatives and services in communities across the country. They contract with established Whānau Ora and community providers such as iwi, marae, education providers, church groups, land trusts or sports groups to deliver a coordinated service based around the needs and aspirations of whānau.

Commissioning agencies report regularly on the outcomes achieved through their partners and providers. (add link to quarterly reports

To find out more about Whānau Ora services:

Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (also called Te Pou Matakana) works with whānau and families in the North Island

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu works with whānau and families in the South Island.

Pasifika Futures is dedicated to working with Pacific families across the country.


Whānau Ora outcomes

Iwi and the Crown have identified the following short-term, medium and long-term goals for whānau. self-managing and empowered leaders

Whānau are self-managing and empowered leaders

Short-term (1-4 years)

  • More whānau develop pathways to independence, including from government assistance and intervention in their whānau life.
  • Whānau are knowledgeable about the capability that exists in their whānau network, and begin to tap into it.
  • Whānau decision-making and planning is informed by timely access to personal information and data which is held about them by government or other agencies.
  • Whānau are aware of their interests in assets held in common and knowledgeable about their rights and responsibilities in regards to those assets.
  • Whānau are planning for emergencies, and taking appropriate action such as having insurance and plans for asset replacement.

Medium-term (5-10 years)

  • Whānau are supported and enabled to take responsibility for their own lives and wellbeing.
  • Whānau are making informed choices about the support they require and who they access support from.
  • Whānau are able to draw on the skills of their own members to advance their collective interests.
  • Whānau are actively participating in the management and growth of assets held in common.
  • Whānau with disabilities participate equally in society.
  • Whānau use, and understand the point of using, data both quantitative and qualitative to inform their decisions making.

Long-term (11-25 years)

  • Whānau exercise rangatiratanga on a daily basis by being self-managing, independent,and making informed decisions.
  • Whānau recognise they are repositories of knowledge about themselves and their communities, and they contribute to their communities’ understanding of them.
  • Whānau determine the nature of their own leadership according to their own traditions. They value and grow their leadership that represents their notions of a leader.
  • Whānau are self-determining in the management, control and aims they determine for their collective assets and resources.

Whānau are leading healthy lifestyles

Short-term (1-4 years)

  • Increased number of whānau are setting and achieving personal health goals for their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental wellbeing.
  • Increased number of whānau are improving their knowledge and practice in healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Whānau are managing chronic health conditions, including eczema, asthma and diabetes. And know when and how to access support to manage their conditions.

Medium-term (5-10 years)

Whānau can model to other whānau members their ability to take personal responsibility for their own health and wellbeing by making choices about:

  • Living drug free and smoke free.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight for their age and height.
  • Achieving exercise and fitness regimes for heart health.
  • Monitoring regularly the efficacy of their prescribed medicines or medical devices in conjunction with health professionals.
  • Engaging in health screening programmes.
  • The quality of the interpersonal relationships they have.

Long-term (11-25 years)

  • Whānau have a quality of life that meets their health needs and goals across their lifespan.
  • Whānau members enjoy positive and functional relationships with others to meet their health needs and goals across their lifespan.
  • Whānau are health literate and they have access to evidence-based information to make decisions about their health needs and goals.
  • Whānau have timely access to exemplary and culturally adept health and disability services to meet their health needs and goals.

Whānau are participating fully in society

Short-term (1-4 years)

  • Rangatahi Māori are achieving NCEA level 2 as a minimum qualification, and increasing numbers are achieving level 3.
  • Increased number of tamariki and mokopuna enrolled and attending early childhood education.
  • Increased number of whānau entering tertiary education or other advanced areas of learning and leaving with qualifications.
  • Increased number of whānau exercising their right to vote in national and local council elections.
  • Increased number of whānau engaged in sport and/or clubs or other community groups including kapa haka and waka ama.
  • Whānau are choosing the services they wish to access, on the basis of good information.
  • Whānau are confident to access services and advocate in their own right.
  • Successfully rehabilitate and reintegrate whānau who have had contact with the corrections system back into communities.

Medium-term (5-10 years)

  • Whānau identify the added value they bring to a school community.
  • Whānau can articulate the importance of early childhood education to the preparation of their children’s future.
  • Whānau choose and access culturally adept schools for their children’s learning.
  • Whānau can articulate and implement healthy living habits in the home that will support their children’s educational success.
  • Rangatahi are achieving the knowledge, skills sets and qualifications to pursue training and employment that provides them with financial security and career options.
  • More whānau members are trained and serving as public, community & cultural leaders.
  • Whānau have access to quality and timely services that are fully responsive to whānau priorities and whānau values.

Long-term (11-25 years)

  • Whānau can demonstrate educational success by an increase in the number of Māori entering higher learning and professional careers.
  • Whānau have opportunities for formal learning that equips them with the skills and knowledge to follow their chosen path to employment, advanced learning or selffulfilment.
  • Whānau are enjoying educational success across all ages.
  • Whānau recognise, value and nurture leadership that supports and enables them.
  • Whānau leaders actively engage with community leaders and institutions for collective good.

Whānau and families are participating confidently in Te Ao Māori - the Māori world

Short-term (1-4 years)

  • Increased numbers of whānau take up Te Reo Māori programmes.
  • Increased number of whānau participating in Iwi or cultural events or activities.
  • Increased number of whānau registered with their iwi are exercising their democratic right in tribal elections.

Medium-term (5-10 years)

  • Whānau participate in their community using their language of choice.
  • Whānau access cultural knowledge, engage in knowledge creation, and transfer that knowledge amongst themselves.

Long-term (11-25 years)

  • Whānau are secure in their cultural identity as Māori and actively participate in activities and events that celebrate their cultural make-up.
  • Whānau are confident and proud that they are at least bi-lingual in Te Reo Māori and English/Te Reo Māori and NZ Sign, and able to transfer that knowledge to their members.
  • Whānau access opportunities to be immersed in their culture and language in their communities.
  • Whānau are major contributors to the cultural vibrancy and development of their own communities.

Whānau and families are economically secure and successfully involved in wealth creation

Short-term (1-4 years)

  • Increased uptake by whānau in business training, skills acquisition, education and professional development.
  • Increased numbers of whānau are self-employed, and whānau businesses are growing.
  • Increased number of whānau improving their financial literacy.
  • Whānau are engaged in savings and investment.

Medium-term (5-10 years)

  • Increasing numbers of whānau are engaged in business, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
  • Increasing numbers of whānau own their own businesses or benefit from the improved productivity and prosperity of their businesses.
  • Whānau see improvements in the value of business they own.
  • Whānau have increased financial literacy, improved access to capital and a practice of saving for key ‘life’ milestones.
  • Whānau achieve at least a living wage.

Long-term (11-25 years)

  • Whānau business leaders are innovative, entrepreneurial and successful.
  • Whānau are active participants in research and development that advances their prosperity.
  • Whānau are employed in occupations and positions that provide them with the income to achieve the standard of living they aspire to.
  • Whānau have the knowledge and skills to manage their assets that enable them to achieve their life long aspirations.

Whānau are cohesive, resilient and nurturing

Short-term (1-4 years)

  • Parents build skills and strategies to nurture and care and provide for their children.
  • Where necessary, whānau address violence, addiction, substance abuse, and risk of selfharm through increased uptake of affordable and culturally appropriate support services.
  • Increase the number of tamariki from vulnerable whānau who are attending school on a regular basis.
  • Relationships between partners are strong and supportive.
  • Whānau are developing nurturing environments that provide for their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental wellbeing.

Medium-term (5-10 years)

  • Whānau live in homes that are free from abuse and violence.
  • Whānau transform their lives through support from rehabilitation services (when needed).
  • Whānau are confident to address crises and challenges.
  • Whānau are stable, organised, and provide their tamariki with the best possible start in life.
  • Whānau understand the importance of school attendance and support and encourage their tamariki and mokopuna to attend school.
  • Rangatahi are supported and nurtured in their transition to adulthood.

Long-term (11-25 years)

  • Whānau relationships are positive, functional and uplifting of all members.
  • Interpersonal skills between whānau members have improved and whānau conduct positive relationships and demonstrate good parenting.
  • Whānau experience and contribute to the development and maintenance of safe and nurturing environments for themselves and their communities.
  • Whānau access communication technology to sustain engagement with each other.
  • All members of a whānau are valued.

Whānau and families are responsible stewards of their living and natural environments

Short-term (1-4 years)

  • Increased opportunity for whānau to participate in environmental management practices.
  • Increased number of whānau accessing services to improve the health of their homes.

Medium-term (5-10 years)

  • Whānau are active participants and contributors to responsible and sustainable environmental management.
  • Whānau access a range of housing options and the support required to pursue those options.
  • Whānau are increasingly satisfied with their housing situation.
  • Whānau increase the use of their land to provide housing, sustenance and food for themselves.

Long-term (11-25 years)

  • Whānau exercise mana whakahaere (authority and control) and mana-kaitiaki over their natural environment.
  • Whānau lead sustainable management of their natural environment.
  • Whānau cultural, physical and spiritual wellness is nurtured by their access to, and engagement with, their natural environment.
  • Whānau have choices about their living arrangements and in all cases, their living environment is safe, secure, warm, dry.


Paiheretia te Muka Tāngata

What is Paiheretia te Muka Tāngata – Uniting the Threads of Whānau?

Paiheretia te Muka Tāngata draws on the strengths of the whānau ora approach to support Māori and their whānau who are engaged in the Corrections system.

Paiheretia is about improving outcomes for whānau Māori to support intergenerational wellbeing, thereby reducing reoffending, victimisation, and imprisonment.  

Paiheretia is part of the Māori Pathways programme, which aims to give effect to the intent and aspirations of Hōkai Rangi Ara Poutama Aotearoa (Department of Corrections) strategy to eliminate the over-representation of Māori in the Corrections system through uplifting the oranga or wellbeing of Māori.

Who is involved?

Paiheretia is a jointly led kaupapa between Te Puni Kōkiri, Ara Poutama Aotearoa and Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora – the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), in partnership with Māori. Paiheretia was co-designed with tāne and whānau Māori with experience of the system, hapū, iwi, Māori service providers and hapori Māori.

Paiheretia also contributes to the strategic intent of Te Pae Tatathe Ministry of Social Development’s Māori Strategy and Action Plan.  The vision for the strategy is: Whānau are strong, safe and prosperous – active within their community, living with a clear sense of identity and cultural integrity and with control over their destiny – Te mana kaha o te whānau!

How does Paiheretia work?

Paiheretia is about partnering with local Māori communities to:

  • create the conditions for whānau ora through kaupapa Māori and whānau-centred approaches.
  • establish a Kaiarataki Navigator service to support whānau to navigate the Corrections system, to access the services and support they may need, and to maintain positive relationships and cultural connections as a whānau.
  • support the cultural capacity and capability of Corrections frontline practitioners to better engage and support positive whānau outcomes.
  • establish effective integrated service case managers to better support whānau to engage in meaningful employment and other MSD social support services.

Where is it being implemented?

Paiheretia is being implemented in Hawke’s Bay and Northland.

Hawke’s Bay was chosen to build on the work already underway at the prison to work in a kaupapa Māori and whānau-centred way.

Te Puni Kōkiri and Ara Poutama Aotearoa have also partnered with Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi to establish a Kaiarataki Navigator service in Hawke’s Bay.

In Northland, the rohe provided different opportunities and recognised the Northland Region Corrections Facility was originally designed to be a kaupapa-Māori facility to support people on their journey towards healing and restoration. This kaupapa presents an opportunity to return to that original vision and realise the promise and potential of the site.

In Northland, Te Puni Kōkiri and Ara Poutama Aotearoa have partnered with Ngāti Hine Health Trust, Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi, Te Hā Oranga, and Waitomo Papakāinga Development Society to deliver the Kaiarataki Navigator service.

For further information please email paiheretia@tpk.govt.nz  or call 0800 875 663.

Localised commissioning

What is localised commissioning?

The journey to wellbeing is different for each whānau, so Whānau Ora can be tailored to the needs of each community. Localised commissioning work is focussed on delivering the seven Whānau Ora outcomes.

The 2018 Whānau Ora Review – Tipu Mātoro ki te Ao – called for a broadening of Whānau Ora. It noted local agencies and organisations are essential for whānau to receive quality support from those who know them best, know what is available locally and know what will work in their communities.

How does it work?
Te Puni Kōkiri identifies the communities trialling localised commissioning. Then it contracts local agencies to undertake the work for and with communities. The local agency commissions (or buys) services or programmes to help whānau to make transformative, positive change: for example, housing repairs, alcohol, and drug counselling, parenting programmes or employment advice.

The agencies listen to all community members to design the approach that will best support what whānau want and need. Localised commissioning is:

  • designed for communities with limited (or no) access to Whānau Ora services/programmes
  • led by an organisation (e.g., an iwi or community group) with the resources and networks to commission
  • run by local people based in the community.

Who is involved and where?

A trial is exploring what different outcomes there are when a commissioner of Whānau Ora programmes and services is in the same community as the family receiving services. An evaluation will run alongside the initiative. The agencies involved are:

Ngā Tini Whetū

What is Ngā Tini Whetū?

Ngā Tini Whetū is a whānau-centred early support prototype designed to strengthen families and improve the safety and wellbeing of children. It is designed to get the right help to whānau before there’s a crisis, lessening the likelihood of harm to tamariki.

Who is involved?
The collaboration between Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri, ACC and the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (WOCA) provides additional early support to around 800 whānau across the North Island, to lift child and whānau wellbeing and resilience. Government agencies jointly fund the prototype through a combined $42.2 million over two years.

How does it work?
The prototype will gather evidence of how the Whānau Ora approach works as a decentralised early support model and how best to increase cross-government engagement in Whānau Ora. It will also look at what further support can be provided to tamariki and their whānau at risk of entering the care of Oranga Tamariki.

What have we learned so far?
An interim evaluation report highlights several positive findings, including:

  • the public service is maturing in how it supports and embeds whānau ora
  • Ministerial leadership was instrumental for getting the prototype underway
  • Crown and Māori are sharing common goals and aspirations for tamariki and whānau
  • the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency successfully challenged agencies to better understand how to partner with a Māori commissioning agency
  • senior leaders are championing collaboration between agencies.

The report also found opportunities for further strengthening and exploration as the prototype continues. Agencies need to build experience, capability, and evidence to support Whānau Ora and other forms of collaborative working across government. While more work is needed to embed collaborative ways of working, what has been completed is unique, innovative, and courageous.

The report can be found here.

Whānau Ora Review

The Whanau Ora Review Report – Tipu Mātoro ki te Ao, released in 2019, affirmed Whānau Ora was working well for whānau.
The panel assessed how well Whānau Ora was providing better outcomes in the community and responding appropriately to the diverse needs of whānau and families.

It met with 184 whānau, 74 partners and providers, 104 Whānau Ora navigators, 19 whānau entities (including Te Pou Matakana, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu and Pasifika Futures) and 16 government agencies at 19 locations across the country and received 277 public submissions.

The report affirmed Whānau Ora provided the platform for greater investment from government and increased collaboration across agencies to expand its implementation.

Read the Whānau Ora Review Report – Tipu Mātoro ki te Ao here.

Whānau Ora Review Report released - media release 20 February 2019

Whanau Ora Review panel announced – media release 10 April 2018