New seminar series explores role of the State in the child welfare system

This seminar series examines the historical, current, and future role of the State, around families' and children's involvement in the child welfare system

Seminar One discussed how patterns of contact with the child protection system have changed over time, described socioeconomic inequalities within these contact patterns, and used risk-bias framework to understand the overrepresentation of certain demographic groups—in particular, Māori and poor children—within the child welfare system.

A historical look at legislation and the organisation of state actors whose role it is to care for children removed or at threat of removal from their whānau will shed light on two important questions: 1) Has there been a fundamental policy shift in the way the state interacts with tamariki and whānau, and 2) Could this shift account for the present-day inequalities and rates of care entry we see today? Importantly, these sociodemographic and system trends are placed within the context of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Children’s Rights—two pieces of governing legislation that frame New Zealand’s current and near-future approach to the child welfare system.


  • His Honour Judge Andrew Becroft, Children’s Commissioner
  • Dr. Emily Keddell, University of Otago
  • Her Honour Judge Sharyn Otene, Family Court Judge, Hamilton District Court
  • Dr. Ian Hyslop, University of Auckland
  • Grant Bennett, Oranga Tamariki, Chief Social Worker and DCE Professional Practice – Ngai Tahu