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Whāngai is the Māori tradition of children being raised by someone other than their birth parents — usually a relative.

Whāngai usually involves a child being raised by its whānau or extended family.

Often, it means placing a child with its grandparents — but it could also be another family member, or someone unrelated. It can be a short-term, long-term or permanent arrangement.

Whāngai is informal. A whāngai placement is arranged directly between the birth parents and the mātua whāngai (the family who will raise the child). Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children do not need to be involved and the birth parents are still the child’s legal guardians.

In most cases whāngai takes place at birth, but it can also involve older children.

A whāngai child usually knows its birth parents and has an ongoing relationship with them.

Whāngai - customary fostering and adoption

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