Intensive Response Developmental Evaluation

Kāhu Matarau – Learning and insights in a collab…
01 Sep 2023
Intensive Response Development Evaluation Infograp…
06 Jul 2022
Intensive Response Development Evaluation - Synthe…
06 Jul 2022
Māori perspectives of Intensive Response
06 Jul 2022
Intensive Response Ōtautahi Development Evaluation…
06 Jul 2022
Intensive Response Developmental evaluation (Synth…
06 Jul 2022


The Intensive Response initiative is being carried out by Oranga Tamariki in collaboration with partners in several communities. Intensive Response supports iwi, Māori partners, and communities to work together with whānau to achieve the shared purpose of designing their own local models of support.

Intensive Response establishment outcomes include that tamariki and whānau receive culturally responsive, intensive, and sustained support to improve wellbeing and prevent entry to care or support tamariki to safely return home to their whānau.

A developmental evaluation (DE) was carried out over 2 years to support the initiative. The DE involved kaupapa Māori and participatory elements. It also aligned with the Intensive Response initiative’s ‘learn and grow’ approach. The DE findings from 4 reports are available: these include the year 2 synthesis report, a Māori perspectives report, an early reflections on collaborative design and partnerships in Ōtautahi, and a year 1 summary report.


Oranga Tamariki has adopted a Learn and Grow approach for the initiative, that includes developmental evaluation. Oranga Tamariki is taking this evaluation approach so that critical learning and engagement with IR partners, participants and stakeholders is supported. They are also committed to ensuring kaupapa Māori and participatory approaches are embedded in the developmental evaluation process.

Developmental Evaluation (DE) is an evaluation approach that brings together evaluative thinking and evidence to those developing and implementing innovative initiatives in complex situations. It is an approach, guided by a suite of principles, that sits alongside and supports emergent, innovative, and transformative development and on-going adaption. 

Key Results

Kāhu Matarau – Learning and insights

A developmental evaluation sat alongside the establishment of Kāhu Matarau, which is a collaborative initiative to provide Intensive Response. The evaluation was to support ongoing reflection, learning, and adaptation of during the service design and implementation.

A key finding from the evaluation is that a trusted, well-resourced and non-judgemental relationship is an important lever for positive whānau change.

Two important lessons found for other collaborations such as this are:

  • the importance of acknowledging the extensive effort required to develop and implement a new collaborative model
  • good relationships hold initiatives together during implementation.

Intensive Response DE synthesis report (‘year 2’)

Oranga Tamariki has partnered in these locations with Māori and Pacific organisations and the wider community sector to design and deliver intensive support services that ensure tamariki will be safe at home with their whānau.

The partnering approach taken is a mechanism for the provision of more effective support. And that it is a new way of working for many of those involved in Intensive Response. Usually working relationships between Oranga Tamariki and external organisations have been based on contracting for services, rather than taking a partnering approach.

Intensive Response has enabled changes in practice and mindset and has been a significant iterative journey. Much has been learned about what Oranga Tamariki can do to become a more effective Treaty partner with iwi, Māori, and communities, and a pro-equity partner with other agencies. There has also been considerable learning about the systems change required and the organisational conditions that support a partnering approach between Oranga Tamariki (national, regional, and local) and iwi, Māori, and community organisations.

The DE identified 6 principles of partnering from the Intensive Response journey to date. These principles reflect what is needed to create and strengthen authentic and effective partnering relationships between Oranga Tamariki and external iwi, Māori, and community organisations; and include:

  • Build and strengthen the foundations of relationships; this is fundamental to ongoing partnering.
  • Acknowledge and respond to the context and whakapapa of relationships.
  • Resource the aspirations of your partner.
  • Don’t make assumptions.
  • Take the time it needs.
  • Partnering is a relationship process rather than a destination. Long-term commitment and sustainable organisational structures are required to maintain these relationships over time.

The Oranga Tamariki role as a Crown Agency and Treaty partner and its responsibility for stewarding Intensive Response and the partnering approach provided the impetus for creating an appropriate authorising environment, which ensures support and buy-in from key people, and that legislation and organisational structures empower the process to achieve its objectives.

Māori perspectives DE report

This report provides Māori perspectives on 3 foundational and integrated aspects to Intensive Response:

  • Developing partnerships with iwi, Māori, and Pacific organisations to design, develop and implement intensive support for tamariki and their whānau.
  • Developing and strengthening the relationships of local Oranga Tamariki offices with local Māori, Pacific, and community agencies.
  • Supporting locally-led solutions that reflect the needs and contexts of local whānau, hapū, iwi and community.

It notes that Intensive Response has provided an opportunity to bring together government and iwi or mana whenua and community partners to support whānau and tamariki and embrace Te Ao Māori worldviews.

The intent is for Oranga Tamariki as a government agency to work in partnership with iwi and community groups to better meet Crown obligations to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and enabling whānau ora for whānau and tamariki Māori (as well as non-Māori).

The Māori perspectives provided for this research were that Intensive Response ‘as Māori’ is about working within a continuum of Māori-centred, whānau-centred, and Te Ao Māori ways within the contexts and organisations that one works.

Ōtautahi Intensive Response DE report

This report focuses on understanding the experiences and insights of key stakeholders participating in a collaborative design process to establish Intensive Response in Ōtautahi (Christchurch East). The four main activities for the co-design process in Ōtautahi were whānau and provider voices, engagement with providers and community groups, co-design hui, and community walk-throughs.

The partnership between the Christchurch East Oranga Tamariki site and Ngāi Tahu Iwi was seen to be operating well and strengthened by working together. Key partnership insights include the need to:

  • build capability in Oranga Tamariki to partner with Iwi
  • increase Oranga Tamariki capability to support better and sustainable outcomes for Māori as well as developing Oranga Tamariki cultural capability
  • grow capacity in Iwi and mana whenua to partner
  • work within and understand different philosophies.

Intensive Response DE synthesis report (‘year 1’)

Developing partnerships as platforms for change between government agencies, iwi, and community organisations is highly complex work. It takes time and has many ups and downs. There are historical legacies and multiple layers to partnering work (strategic, local, as well as internal layers and relationships). And all need explicit recognition and more attention if Intensive Response is to succeed. This includes more dedicated capacity (people and resources) and ongoing support for the development of new capabilities across the diverse partners engaged in this work.

Page last modified: 24 Nov 2023