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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/assessment-and-planning/assessments/specialist-topics/concerning-fire-related-behaviour/
Printed: 14/06/2024
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Last updated: 20/12/2023

Concerning fire-related behaviour

Concerning fire-related behaviour poses significant risks to te tamaiti or rangatahi and others, and can have serious immediate, short-term and long-term impacts on oranga. Serious underlying issues may contribute to concerning fire-related behaviour.

Building our understanding and getting supports and services for te tamaiti or rangatahi and people impacted by the behaviour

Concerning fire-related behaviour is not a common presenting problem. Kaimahi and supervisors may have limited or no experience working with tamariki and rangatahi who are engaging in concerning fire-related behaviour. 

We work in a relational, inclusive and restorative way with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family and others to build our understanding of fire-related behaviour, its underlying causes and its impact, and to support the oranga of tamariki or rangatahi and their whānau or family.

We work with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family, caregivers and others to:

  • build our mātauranga so we can understand the behaviour and its impacts
  • identify and address underlying issues
  • identify and minimise risk
  • create plans that address immediate and sustained future safety and oranga, and any court directives and explore opportunities for reparation and restoration.

What we have learned from working with tamariki and rangatahi with concerning fire-related behaviour

In the past, kaimahi in Oranga Tamariki have worked with tamariki and rangatahi whose fire-related behaviour has caused damage to property and land of cultural significance.

When this happens, it is important that we work with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family and others to look for ways to restore and put right the damage that has been caused, but also to find a way to acknowledge the hurt, move forward and restore wairua and support the mana of those involved.

For example, where land of cultural significance has been damaged, kaimahi have worked closely with local iwi and te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family to understand the impact of the behaviour and significance of their actions and how this can be put right and the hurt be addressed. This has significantly helped to connect te tamaiti or rangatahi to their community and strengthen whakapapa and whanaungatanga relationships.

Addressing concerning fire-related behaviour requires specialist skills and assessment. We:

  • explore gaps in our knowledge and practice in working with tamariki and rangatahi and their whānau or family where fire-related behaviour is an issue
  • seek coaching and supervisory support to plan mahi and look reflexively at our practice
  • seek specialist advice from experienced kaimahi and specialists from within Oranga Tamariki and outside of the organisation to:
    • understand the issues
    • understand effective and safe ways to work with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family and others that will address the behaviour and its underlying causes
    • address the behaviour and the oranga of those involved
    • help te tamaiti or rangatahi understand how they can make reparation or work towards some form of restoration for themselves and others impacted by the behaviour.

We consult with:

  • Oranga Tamariki Specialist Services about accessing a specialist assessment for te tamaiti or rangatahi and creating a safety plan
  • the High Needs services in the Care Support team about the support they can give if there are problems finding appropriate out-of-home care, when required.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Whakaratonga Iwi has developed the Ahikura Whānau-Centred Fire Education programme. Trained Ahikura practitioners work one-to-one with tamariki and rangatahi aged 5 to 17 years to help them and their whānau or family understand and address a range of fire-related behaviours. Referrals, including the consent of a parent or caregiver, are required for this programme. If we are unsure if Ahikura is the right fit, we get in touch with one of the Ahikura teams across the country who we can talk with about fire-related behaviour in tamariki and rangatahi. Email Ahikura@fireandemergency.nz for more information about the programme in local areas.

Ahikura | Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Specialist placements for children and young people with high needs

High and Complex Needs Unit | Te Pae

Specialist teams | Te Pae

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki and rangatahi

Policy: Caregiver support

Cultural considerations and wairuatanga

In many cultures, fire has a traditional association with oranga through supporting basic needs around warmth, safety and food. Fire and smoke also have more spiritual associations and are embedded in practices, dance and ceremonies for many cultures. 

In Te Ao Māori, ahi has traditionally held an important place in all aspects of life, including tikanga, kawa and navigation. How ahi was brought to the world is conveyed through the legend of Māui and Mahuika.

Understanding beliefs and practices associated with fire can help us to:

  • build our understanding of te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family and the behaviour that has occurred
  • work with tamariki or rangatahi and their whānau or family in the context of their cultural beliefs to address fire-related behaviour that is concerning
  • look for ways that we can support and strengthen whakapapa and whanaungatanga ties and networks.

How Māui brought fire to the world | Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI)

Te Ahi i Te Ao Māori: Māori use of fire | National Library

Using the practice framework

We use our practice framework to plan and guide how we work with tamariki and rangatahi with concerning fire-related behaviour:

  • Ngākau whakairo: how will we advocate for the rights, safety, supports and services for te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family, caregivers, victims of youth offending and those impacted by the concerning fire-related behaviour?
  • Whai mātauranga: how will we work together with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family and others to:
    • build understanding about what has happened
    • understand who we need to be partnering with
    • identify and understand any underlying issues that may be contributing to the behaviour
    • understand the impact the behaviour has had on the oranga of everyone involved and how this might be addressed
    • identify and understand any ongoing risks and how these can be addressed through a plan?
  • Whai oranga: how can whakapapa and whanaungatanga connections and networks be used to support, strengthen and restore oranga for te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family and other people impacted by the behaviour? How do I build deeper understanding of the behaviour and its impacts through the cultural worldwide view of te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family?
  • Whai pūkenga and whai ākona: what gaps in knowledge, understanding or practice skills do I have around working with tamariki and rangatahi with concerning fire-related behaviour and how will I address these?

Practice framework

Using the practice prompts