The Reclamation of Whānau Decision-Making in the Context of Child Welfare. A Case Study of Iwi-Led Family Group Conferences
The Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act (1989) heralded family group conferences as an innovative mechanism to reinforce the role of family in child welfare decision-making. While many have regarded family group conferences as a culturally appropriate response, continued managerialism reflected a guise of cultural responsiveness and family involvement that has actively disempowered whānau and the young person in decision-making processes. Similar to concerns that led to the formation of the 1989 Act, institutional racism inspired Rangitāne o Wairarapa (Rangitāne) to reclaim the family group conference process, and child welfare decision-making, as an iwi function. The current study reports on the development of a family group conference practice model of one iwi (Rangitāne) as a case study of cultural reclamation. The success of the approach is juxtaposed against the iwi practice model, critical success factors and opportunities for the development of such practice models across Aotearoa New Zealand.