Ngā Haerenga | Transition Journeys Longitudinal Study Phase 3

Published: October 18, 2023 · Updated: October 24, 2023

This report examines rangatahi experiences leaving the care or custody of Oranga Tamariki. It reviews key findings from 18 to 24 months after leaving across 3 years, with a focus on the final year.


Ngā Haerenga | Transition Journeys is a 3-year study of rangatahi. It follows their transition to independent living from Oranga Tamariki care and custody arrangements.

The study spans ten regions of Aotearoa . It was developed by Oranga Tamariki in partnership with three external, regional research teams.

The teams interviewed rangatahi in their respective region each year for three years. They also interviewed their whānau or support people.

The research applied several methodologies. These were used to track, understand, and give voice to rangatahi experiences and outcomes.

They included Kaupapa Māori, data gathering and sense-making methods. Kaupapa Māori is an approach that incorporates and centres Māori customs, values and philosophy.

Key findings

We found that a wide range of outcomes were reported by rangatahi who remained in the study in year 3. Most reported that overall things were going OK since leaving care. However, some rangatahi continued to struggle (for example with mental health issues).

Areas where many rangatahi reported doing well included:

  • kāinga (living in safe and stable homes)

  • mahi/akoranga (participating in employment, education or training)

  • hauora (maintaining or improving health and wellbeing)

  • ngā hononga (building and maintaining connected relationships - including with whānau/hapū/iwi and with te ao Māori)

  • hapori (participating in community/cultural activities)

  • living crime-free (although some had continued to engage in criminal activities and progressed to an adult correctional facility).

Four key āhuatanga (themes or characteristics) of the dynamics and aspects of ragatahi journeys were identified. They enabled or, in their absence, constrained successful outcomes. 

These were:

  • Hononga (connectedness with whānau, former caregivers, friends, whenua, culture, and whakapapa)

  • Haumarutanga (safety, stable and welcoming social services and community spaces)

  • Mana ake (increasing sense of self-agency, identity, and purpose)

  • Ārahitanga (guidance and support from whanau, social services kaimahi and people in the community).

The most important theme that appeared in many journeys was the importance of hononga for enabling successful outcomes.

A number of lessons from the study have helped to inform the ongoing development of the Transition Support Service at Oranga Tamariki.