Who named the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki?

Minister for Social Development Anne Tolley discussing the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children which will be set up ...
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ

Minister for Social Development Anne Tolley discussing the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children which will be set up from April next year.

The name has caused backlash from the public, industry experts, and even the United Nations - so who's behind the controversial Ministry for Vulnerable Children?

On July 28, 2016 it was reported a new Ministry for Vulnerable Children would take over from the chequered Child, Youth and Family from April 2017. The following month Social Development Minister Anne Tolley confirmed the name: Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.

Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft described it as "cripplingly disappointing" and was one of many who called for a more "aspirational" name.

The Youth Advisory Panel – made up of young people aged 15-23 who have been in state care – wanted a name that ...
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The Youth Advisory Panel – made up of young people aged 15-23 who have been in state care – wanted a name that incorporated wellbeing and inclusiveness.

Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal the name was a late addition to the ballot.

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Program Director Investing in Children Jack Carroll in an email said the name "fully incorporates the Maori name Oranga Tamariki, which means the health or wellbeing of children".

The documents released do not acknowledge conversations between "officials, community groups, the Youth Advisory Panel, and the Minister," which also influenced the name of the department, he said.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN 

On February 4, 2016 Modernising Child, Youth and Family head of secretariat Claire Falck in an email to a redacted address listed five options for the name of the new department: 

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- Ministry for Child and Youth Development

- Children's Investment Agency

- Ministry for Children and their Families

- Child and Family Investment Agency

- The Child and Family Service.

On June 8, 2016 the Office of the Children's Commissioner in an email to a redacted address referenced the views of the Youth Advisory Panel – made up of young people aged 15-23 who have been in state care – who "were not overly engaged in the discussion".

A copy of a Facebook conversation showed one of the young people suggested "Social Health and Well-being Services". Others in the group supported the suggestion.

The email went on to say, "... I think there might be something about wellbeing and inclusiveness that is important to them".

Child, Youth and Family associate deputy chief executive Glenis Philip-Barbara on June 13, 2016 emailed Carroll six suggestions "based loosely around the proverb/idea, 'Ka whangaia, ka tupu, ka puawai' – 'that which is nurtured grows, then blossoms'".

She pointed out "whangai" in Maori language means "both foster child and to nurture".

On June 10, 2016 Carroll, in an email to a redacted parliament email address, sent a self-professed long list of options. They included words such as "care", "support", "well-being", "proud", "treasured". They did not include the word "vulnerable". 

WHERE DID "VULNERABLE" COME FROM?

According to Cabinet papers, a cross-agency working group consisting of officials from the State Services Commission, Treasury, and the Ministry of Social Development developed a "long list of potential options for the new children's entity".

A report from the Office of the Minister for State Services said: "We have considered a number of options of the name of the New Children's Entity and we propose that the new entity be called the Ministry for Vulnerable Children as we believe it best encompasses the role and function of the new agency."

On August 9, 2016 an email between two redacted parliament email addresses said: "The Order in Council and Schedule would have the Ministry for Vulnerable Children name."

An email the following day raised issues with the word "kawariki" and proposed a swap for the simpler "tamariki" (children).

Carroll did not respond to requests for information about who first suggested the name Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

THE MINISTER RESPONDS 

Tolley declined to say who first suggested the name Ministry for Vulnerable Children. She also declined to say whether she considered changing the name owing to backlash. 

She said: "The name was decided by Cabinet and Oranga Tamariki seems to have caught the imagination of people in the sector and that's great, but the administrative name for a government department is the least important part of what we are doing ...

"We are determined to make a real and lasting different for these young people – and nothing will distract me from that."

 - Stuff

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