Puawaitahi – child protection multi-agency centre

Puawaitahi brings specialist child abuse investigators from several agencies together under one roof. They work closely with each other to streamline their processes and reduce delays for clients. As well as investigation services, Puawaitahi ensures that victims of abuse, and their families, can easily access the best possible services to help with treatment after abuse.

Puawaitahi was established at 99 Grafton Road, in the Auckland City Police District, in November 2002. Police, Starship National Children's Hospital and the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki (formerly Child Youth and Family) worked closely with the Auckland District Health Board, Starship Foundation and the wider Auckland community to develop Puawaitahi. Young people were involved in its establishment through the Young People's Voices advisory group.

What Puawaitahi does

Puawaitahi's key components are:

  • specialist child assessment and investigation services of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki (formerly Child Youth and Family)
  • health
  • police
  • mental health and therapeutic services
  • prosecution. 

As a result of bringing these components together, Puawaitahi:

  • provides a 'one stop shop' for assessing and treating children and young people who are thought to have experienced abuse or neglect
  • provides coordinated case management and reduces the risk that children and young people will 'fall through the gaps'
  • improves inter-sectoral communication and cooperation
  • reduces inefficiencies, duplications and omissions in service provision for abused and neglected children and young people
  • improves links to community providers of therapeutic services. 

Assessment and intervention

Five main strands of assessment and intervention are available at Puawaitahi for children and young people with concerns about abuse:

  • assessment and management of their health needs by staff of Te Puaruruhau (an Auckland District Health Board health service for children)
  • formal evidential video interviews conducted by Police and the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki (formerly Child Youth and Family) interviewers in the joint Evidential Video Unit
  • police investigation and possible prosecution conducted by the Auckland City District Police Child Protection Team
  • detailed 'diagnostic assessment' or 'therapeutic needs assessment' conducted by the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki's Specialist Services staff
  • assessment of mental health, limited crisis support and links back to appropriate community services for support and therapy.