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Chester Borrows

26 November, 2012

Working with Māori key to reducing youth crime

Expanding relationships with Māori and iwi youth service providers is an important tool in addressing Māori over-representation in youth crime, says Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows.

“Young Māori are significantly over-represented in youth offending statistics, with an apprehension rate of more than three times that of Pacific or New Zealand European young people,” says Mr Borrows.

“While it is encouraging that apprehensions of young Māori have fallen almost 15 per cent over the last five years, they remain badly overrepresented in our crime statistics, showing there is more work to be done here.”

Mr Borrows today visited Ngapuhi Iwi Social Services in Kaikohe, accompanied by Northland MP Mike Sabin, to discuss effective responses to offending by Māori youth with staff and young people there.

“We’ve looked at ‘what works’ and evidence suggests that providing programmes with Māori specific content, in a Māori specific environment (such as a Marae), using Māori specific teaching and learning techniques gets better outcomes for children and young people of Māori descent.”

Ngapuhi who recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Child, Youth and Family, is one of many contracted community based Iwi/Māori social services, providing youth justice services by Māori, for Māori.  This includes Community Youth Development programmes, Supported Bail, Supervision with Activity orders and parenting education under Fresh Start

“Providing these programmes in a culturally appropriate way helps to bring these at-risk young people close to their roots, their history and culture, instilling pride and belief in their future.

“That’s why I’ve been so interested to talk to Ngapuhi today, to get their insights on what works and what does not work for young Māori,” says Mr Borrows.

“I want to congratulate Ngapuhi on being willing to stand up and take responsibility for their rangatahi.  It is only when we commit to working together that Fresh Start will deliver the best results for young Māori.”

The Fresh Start reforms were introduced in October 2010.  They include a range of policy changes to provide more effective interventions for young offenders, as well as an investment of $84 million over three years in further programmes such as parenting education.  More information on Fresh Start can be found at www.beehive.govt.nz or www.cyf.govt.nz.