The Ministry of Justice says Marae/Iwi Justice Panels are one element of a wider justice sector programme aimed at trialling different methods to reduce offending and victimisation in communities.
According to the Ministry there are three Marae/Iwi Justice Panels operating throughout the country in Manukau, Tairawhiti, and Waiwhetu as part of a trial.
The Ministry also says funding for the Marae/Iwi Justice Panels costs $265,000, split across the three locations according to volumes agreed in their contracts.
"At this stage, referrals to the panels have been lower than expected, meaning that MUMA has not met its contracted volumes. We are investigating the possibility of extending their timeframes and payment schedules to make the funding available until the end of the calendar year (31 December 2015) to allow them to meet these volumes."
The Manukau Urban Māori Authority say their Marae Justice panel is a pilot-programme funded by the Ministry of Justice till the end of June and do not know whether they will have a roll-over in funding.
MUMA say there are only two types of iwi panels set up in the country and their South Auckland based Marae-Justice programme is one of them.
MUMA run their Marae Justice panels weekly at Ngā Whare Wātea Marae and Papakura Marae and they are not restricted to Māori alone but are open to all ethnicities.
Kaiarataki or MUMA facilitator Kaleilehua Suganuma says “In this process it doesn’t just address what the person has done but it is definitely addressed in the process but also what kind of support is given to these rangatira really.”
Papakura Marae justice panelist Brian Joyce says rather than sending a case to Court they give the person charged with an offence the opportunity to attend a Marae Justice Community Panel.
He says “It is here that we discuss the facts and impacts and between us all we look for a suitable remedy. We report back to the police once he has completed all the agreed outcomes and that will be the end of the matter. If on the other hand he did not fulfil the agreement the police will refer the case to Court."
Corrections spokesperson for Labour Kelvin Davis on the other hand wants an extension of the Rangatahi Court system.
He says the sooner a supportive intervention can be applied for a young person and the greater the support a rangatahi receives the less likelihood of that young person reoffending.
“Many rangatahi arrive at Courthouses without a single whanau member in support. Shifting the court process to the marae and involving the wider whanau in the court process, decision making and monitoring of the young person’s consequences is a sensible step,” says Davis.
“There are a dozen or so rangatahi court throughout the country and the Labour Party supports an increase in Rangatahi Courts. There is capacity for maybe another 6-8 Rangatahi Courts. When it costs about $105,000 per annum to imprison one person, it makes economic sense to reduce that figure by investing prevention,” says Davis.
Next week the Government is set to release its Budget and it is there that the likes of the Marae justice panel and Rangatahi Court systems will know whether they’ve been given more or less funding.
Senior reporter Heeni Brown will have more on this story on Te Kāea News 5:30pm.