Rotorua Children's Team

Rotorua Children's Team illustration "I want to acknowledge the whānau/families who have engaged with the Rotorua Children’s Team as part of their commitment to their children. For these families, coming on board working in this new way is a step towards achieving the aspirations and dreams they have for their children" – Mahalia Paewai, Rotorua Children’s Team Director

Launched on 29 July 2013, the Rotorua Children’s Team was the first Children’s Team in the country.

Rotorua was chosen as the first Children’s Team site because there was strong support in the community for working in this coordinated way with vulnerable families. Rotorua was also considered a ‘high needs’ location.

Refer a child

If you are concerned about a child (unborn to 18) you can refer them to the Children’s Team. Referrals to the Children’s Team can be made by agencies, practitioners (e.g. teachers and nurses), friends or the families themselves. We do not accept anonymous referrals and the family must verbally consent to the referral being completed. Read more about referring to Children's Teams here.

To refer a child to the Rotorua Children’s Team download and complete the referral form [DOCX, 282 KB]. Then drop the completed form off to our office.

Alternatively, you can also email us at: or call (07) 347 5012 for a member of our team to come and collect it. The forms should be in a sealed envelope, addressed to the Children’s Team and marked ‘Private and Confidential’.

Please do not email the referral form with any personal information about the child or family/whānau.

The Rotorua Children’s Team covers the area of the Rotorua district Territorial Local Authority boundary.View a map of the Children's Team Boundary.

Read the Rotorua Children's Team Child Protection Policy. [PDF, 324 KB]

Meet the Rotorua Children’s Team

Rotorua Children’s Team Director, Mahalia Paewai

Mahalia Paewai has been involved with the Rotorua Children’s Team since the beginning.

Mahalia is a clinical psychologist whose career has seen her work across the education and health sectors.

Her previous roles include Acting District Manager, for Special Education Services across the west Bay of Plenty for the Ministry of Education.

She has also worked with Kaupapa Māori mental health, and has been a clinical manager with an iwi provider delivering health and social services. 

Rotorua Children’s Team Local Government Group Chair and Lakes District Health Board CEO, Ron Dunham, says Mahalia and her team have been at the vanguard of introducing a new way of working.

“The Team places each vulnerable child right at the very heart of what we do,” Mr Dunham says.

To contact Mahalia, email:

Rotorua Children’s Team

The Rotorua Children’s Team celebrating their second anniversary in July 2015

The other members of the Rotorua Children’s Team are Children’s Team Coordinator Claire Taipari and Children’s Team Administrator Horiana Curtis.

To contact the team email:

Rotorua Local Governance Group

The Rotorua Children’s Team’s Local Governance Group is comprised of key representatives from the local community, government agencies, non-government organisations and iwi.  This group of community leaders ensures the Children’s Team Director has the resources necessary to address the needs of the vulnerable children and their family/whānau across the local community.

Rotorua Local Governance Group members are:

  • Mahalia Paewai – Children’s Team Director
  • Ron Dunham – Chief Executive, Lakes District Health Board
  • Ezra Schuster – Director of Education, Ministry of Education
  • Sue Critchley – Regional Director, Child, Youth and Family
  • Peter Waru – Regional Manager, Community Investment, Ministry of Social Development
  • Bruce Horne – District Commander, Police
  • Pare Aratema – Chair, Te Arawa Whanau Ora Collective
  • Rachel Jones – Waikato/Waiariki Region Te Puni Kōkiri
  • Dan O’Brien – Service Delivery Manager Central North Island, Justice

Rotorua Children’s Team panel

The Rotorua Children’s Team panel is made up of a range of sector experts and practitioners who are responsible for reviewing referrals, assigning a Lead Professional to coordinate work with the child and their family, and approving and monitoring the progress against the Child’s Plan.

The Rotorua Children’s Team panel members are:

  • Mahalia Paewai – Children’s Team Director
  • Sonia Hawkins  - Clinic Manager Intregrated Services, Manakai Ora Trust-Tipu Ora
  • Johan Morreau – Paediatrician, Lakes District Health Board
  • Mala Grant –Project Manager, Te Arawa Whanau Ora 
  • Leigh Alaeinia – Youth Development, Police
  • Bernice Breen – Hospital Liaison, Child, Youth and Family
  • Mona Roper – Psychologist, Ministry of Education