Topic: Employment

Kaitoko Whānau upset contract has ended

By Heeni Brown
  • Auckland

Auckland based Māori social workers known as Kaitoko Whānau workers are upset their jobs are to be axed.

The Minister for Māori development, Te Ururoa Flavell says Kaitoko Whānau was a fixed term budget bid launched in 2010 and funding to extend those contracts until June 2015 was agreed to.

Auckland based Kaitoko Whānau workers held a hui at Ngā Whare Wātea Marae in Auckland worried about their contracts, funded under Te Puni Kōkiri, coming to an end and how that will impact on the many whānau they work with. They are families who deal with drug and alcohol addictions, homelessness, youth crime, suicide attempts, housing, gang related issues and many more issues.

Karanga Mitchell says the decision to end her and other Kaitoko Whānau contracts throughout the country will have devastating effects on Māori families.

Mitchell says, “It'll be sad. They'll continue to be impoverished, they won't know what to do, and they'll continue roaming the streets. It won't be a good ending for them and they won't have someone to guide them.”

Mitchell says for the past five years, the Kaitoko Whānau contract she's currently working for under Manurewa Marae have dealt with hundreds of families.

“We work with 70 families a year and there's six of us in our team but it's shared around. One works with 15 families, another works with 15 families, another works with 20 and another works with 20 families,” says Mitchell.

Te Ururoa Flavell says, “Kaitoko Whānau's work has been awesome, very similar to the work under Whānau Ora's navigator scheme, but the decision for Kaitoko Whānau was made before my time and was that of the former Minister who decided to have their work completed. But in the Minister's passion he extended the funding of those contracts, but workers always knew that those contracts would always come to an end this year.”

According to Te Puni Kōkiri, Kaitoko Whānau are independent workers attached to host organisations. Their role is to support vulnerable whānau.

“The budget comes out next month, and the feeling around it is to solidate Whānau Ora for Māori, and to make Kaitoko Whānau an additional part and have it under the umbrella of Whānau Ora,” says Flavell.

Now, the Auckland Kaitoko delegates are preparing to set up a meeting with Te Ururoa Flavell and do whatever to takes to maintain their contracts.