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Call to avoid the pending removal of a newborn pēpi

Children in care
Ombudsmen Act 1975
Oranga Tamariki
Peter Boshier
Case number(s):
Issue date:

Pending removal of newborn from hospital by Oranga Tamariki—family now willing and able to care for baby—inquiries made and Oranga Tamariki able to make alternative arrangements—baby discharged from hospital with family


The Chief Ombudsman received a call from a mother who had recently given birth. She and her baby were still in hospital, but baby was about to be discharged, and removed by Oranga Tamariki from the hospital.

The mother had agreed to Oranga Tamariki having custody and uplifting the child on the basis that her family were not sure they could care for the baby, and because there was a likelihood it may be born with health complications.

However, baby was born healthy and family members decided that they would be willing to care for baby. The mother believed that her baby should therefore stay with her family, and not go to non-kin caregivers.

She explained that she also wanted to breastfeed, and removal of baby outside of the family would prevent this.

She also advised that she had not spoken to her social worker yet, but that her social worker had been talking to other family members about what was happening.


Just because Oranga Tamariki has custody rights in respect of a child, it does not necessarily need to take physical custody of the child. In cases like this, the Chief Ombudsman seeks information from Oranga Tamariki to see that the proper process has been followed and that arrangements have been made for things like breastfeeding, ongoing contact, and meetings to review arrangements.

In this case, the Chief Ombudsman explained the mother’s worries to Oranga Tamariki, and asked:

  • Could baby stay in hospital while the mother was still there?
  • What was happening now that family members were able to care for baby?
  • What arrangements had been made to make sure the mother could still breastfeed?
  • When would a family meeting take place?

Oranga Tamariki confirmed it had already been working with the hospital so that mother and baby could spend another night together. It was able to achieve this and baby stayed with the mother for another night.

Oranga Tamariki then worked to urgently approve the family members that had agreed to care for baby. When baby was discharged from the hospital, baby was allowed to go home with family. Arrangements were also made for daily contact and breastfeeding by the mother and for further meetings to review arrangements to take place. As a result, the Chief Ombudsman did not need to take any further action.

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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