Rūnanga programme helps turn youth away from crime

By Ripeka Timutimu
  • Wellington

The life of a Wellington teenager has been turned around after help from a local iwi steered him away from a life of trouble. Crewz Stone-Nepia is one of 80 who have gone through a crime-prevention scheme run by Te Rūnanganui o Taranaki Whānui ki Te Ūpoko o Te Ika a Māui, and one of the country's top police officers wants the same scheme rolled out across the country.

A few months ago, Crewz Stone-Nepia was on a pathway of crime, but today, he's back on track.

The youth recalls an incident just a few months ago which saw him drinking with friends and then participating in the theft of a car.

Crewz and his friends were eventually caught, and he was referred to a crime prevention scheme at Te Rünanga o Taranaki Whänui.

Programme advocate Neville Baker says they looked into what Crewz wanted to do with his life which was farm work so connectons were established with Rūnanga networks and the youngster was taken up the Whanganui river for an environmental experience. As a result the young man has found alternative and positive ways to occupy his time.

Baker says, the program allows Māori to find their own solutions to their problems and the Rūnanga uses it’s own Māori resources and networks and calls upon Māori as a whole in the area to find solutions for youth at risk.

Police Superintendent Wally Haumaha supports the development of this program for Rūnanga across the country.

There's no doubt that Crewz is lucky to be back on the right track, and not being led off course. Hopefully, others like him can also be helped in the years to come.