It is widely acknowledged that family group conferencing originated in Aotearoa New Zealand with the introduction of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 and its creation of the family group conference. However, says Marie Connolly, what gave rise and shape to this development is a far more complex question. It is that question she explores in this paper. Toward that end, she looks at cultural issues at the heart of practice changes in Aotearoa New Zealand. Specifically, she discusses the place of the child in Maori society and the child’s relationship to familial kinship structures in Maori culture, and the ways in which New Zealand child welfare legislation and policy before the 1989 Act misunderstood or ignored that place and that relationship.