Topics: Prison, Youth

Partnership helping to lower youth offending

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Oranga Tamariki says a partnership between Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau Health, Education and Social Services and Oranga Tamariki is producing results and keeping youth offenders out of the system.

According to the agency, of the 45 youth who have been through the programme in the last year only two have reoffended.

Today these youth, aged 14 to 17, are showcasing what they have learnt to their families.

Chris Marjoribanks, CEO of Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau Education, Health and Social Services says, “We started doing the program on a voluntary basis.  We established a Tūwharetoa rangatahi advisory rōpū and then we looked at where we can take them into more extended programs and talk with Ōranga Tamariki.” 

Five youths from across the Bay of Plenty and Ōpōtiki area have spent the week on a cultural programme called 'Tikanga Wānanga'.

“They lead the program.  We are not telling them how to do it, what to do, we're trusting them that they know what they're doing and the results speak for themselves” says Shaun Brown of Oranga Tamariki.

The programme also exposes the rangatahi to new experiences.  During the week they travelled to Te Puia, Rotorua for the first time.

Tutor Matetu Mihinui says, “In this program our main focus is on their strengths and aspirations because their aspirations set the foundation for them to learn about our customs and culture.” 

The youth have been referred to the program by police.

Youth and Community Services Supervisor Sergeant Tom Brooks says, “The more we can do to prevent young people from entering the formal justice system the better.  Because once they hit that formal justice system we know that it's really hard to get them out of it.” 

This is the fifth programme held under the partnership between Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau and Oranga Tamariki.