About Whānau Ora

Whānau Ora is an approach that supports whānau and families to achieve their aspirations in life. It places whānau at the centre of decision making and supports them to build a more prosperous future.

How Whānau Ora is Different

Whānau Ora is about increasing the wellbeing of individuals in the context of their whānau, it is whānau-centred. It differs from traditional social and health approaches that focus solely on the needs of individuals.

Whānau ora recognises the strengths and abilities that exist within whānau and aims to support and develop opportunities that fulfill potential.

The whānau-centred approach:

  • starts by asking whānau and families what they want to achieve for themselves, and then responding to those aspirations in order 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-determination and capability building for whānau to achieve positive long-term outcomes
  • uses a joined up approach that focuses on all factors relevant to whānau wellness, including economic, cultural, environmental factors, as well as social factors
  • recognise that each whānau has a different set of circumstances, and what works well for one whānau does not work well for other whānau
  • recognises that whānau and families have skills, knowledge and experiences that contribute to their own resilience, and can provide a platform for whānau and families to become more self-managing and independent.

Learn more.

The Beginnings

Whānau Ora was created in response to a recognition by Government that standard ways of delivering social and health services was not working and outcomes particularly for Māori whānau were not improving.

In 2010, Whānau Ora was launched as an innovative whānau-centred approach to supporting whānau wellbeing and development. The development of Whānau Ora occurred after the Taskforce on Whānau-Centred Initiatives presented a report to Government in 2009. The report has provided the framework for Whānau Ora development throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

The implementation of Whānau Ora has occurred in two phases:

Phase One of Whānau Ora (2010 - 2014), focused on building the capability of providers to deliver whānau-centred services. Te Puni Kōkiri worked with collectives of health and social service providers across the country to re-orientate the way they worked, placing whānau at the centre. Providers across the country were asked to come together to see how they could work in a better way to support the needs of whānau.

Phase Two (2014 - present day), moved implementation by Government to three non-government Commissioning Agencies. The Commissioning Agencies have been contracted to invest directly into their communities. This means funding decisions are made closer to communities and allows for flexible and innovative approaches to meet the needs and aspirations of whānau.

In 2015, a Whānau Ora Partnership Group, made up of six iwi and six Crown representatives, was established. This group provided a strategic oversight of Whānau Ora and advised the Minister for Whānau Ora.

Commissioning Agencies

The Commissioning Agencies are contracted by Te Puni Kōkiri to invest in initiatives and services provided in communities across the Country.

Commissioning Agencies have worked with their communities to determine the best ways to support their development. Some contract with established Whānau Ora provider collectives as well as other community providers such as iwi, marae, education providers, church groups, land trusts or sports groups, while others invest directly with whānau or whānau collectives.

The three Commissioning Agencies are:

Commissioning Model

The following diagram illustrates how the Whānau Ora commissioning model works:

Each Commissioning Agency produce quarterly progress updates. Click on links below to read more.

Kaiārahi (or Navigators)

Kaiārahi (or Navigators) play a major role in Whānau Ora. They work closely with whānau to identify their specific needs and aspirations then help identify the services, education providers or employment and business opportunities.

Kaiārahi support whānau to plan, and then connect them with the support they need to achieve their goals. Kaiārahi have the cultural and local knowledge necessary to understand whānau situations and build relationships of trust and confidence.

For many whānau, working with a Kaiārahi will be their first experience with social service delivery focusing on their strengths and aspirations. In some instances they may need help to overcome certain crisis or barriers but once this is done the Kaiārahi continue to work with them to look at opportunities.

Reports from whānau and providers, as well as research, shows that when whānau work with Kaiārahi they experience significant benefits including improved outcomes across education, employment and income.

The Whānau Ora Kaiārahi (or Navigator) approach has been identified by the Productivity Commission as a key example of an integrated whānau-centred approach supporting seamless access to health and social services.

In Budget 2015, almost $50 million was secured to fund approximately 230 navigators to 2019 so they can continue to support thousands of whānau.

The funding is allocated through the Whānau Ora commissioning agencies.

Measuring Success

Te Puni Kōkiri has an important role in monitoring and evaluating Whānau Ora as a unique social investment model. The Commissioning Agencies are also engaged in evaluating their activities to understand what Whānau Ora is achieving for whānau. Learn more.

Whānau Ora Outcomes

Whānau Ora is focused on achieving improvements for whānau over the short, medium and long-term.

The Whānau Ora Outcomes Framework, agreed to by the Whānau Ora Partnership Group, made up of Iwi and Crown representatives, is the principle measurement for indicating the success of Whānau Ora.

These seven outcomes for whānau are:

  • Self-managing;
  • Living healthy lifestyles;
  • Participating fully in society;
  • Confidently participating in Te Ao Māori (the Māori world);
  • Economically secure and successfully involved in wealth creation;
  • Cohesive, resilient and nurturing; and
  • Responsible stewards to their living and natural environment.

Whānau Ora Outcomes


Iwi and the Crown have identified the following short-term, medium and long-term goals for whānau:

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.

Contact Details

If you want to access Whānau Ora services contact your relevant commissioning agency.

Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency 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 Island families across the country.

Each commissioning agency works with local partners, providers and navigators to deliver a coordinated service based around the needs and aspirations of your whānau.

For other enquiries about Whānau Ora, you can contact your local Te Puni Kōkiri office, email whanauora@tpk.govt.nz or phone 0800 875 663.

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