First Oranga Rangatahi initiative to kerb Huntly youth offending

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Oranga Rangatahi is a new voluntary initiative based in Huntly, aimed at preventing it’s at risk young people from offending and lead positive successful lives. 

This is a new multi-agency youth programme with a punch.

One 15-year-old male participant told Te Kāea, "It's cool as. It's keeping us off the streets and that." 

"It keeps me out of trouble, because before I was doing this I was a trouble-maker and stuff," said a female 15-year-old participant.

Within Waikato over 220 youth were under the youth justice system last year. Oranga Rangatahi focuses on reducing truancy, providing mentoring, cultural and vocational activities as positive future options. 

"We hope to stop, prevent the people that come into our programme from going on to offend," said Waikato-Bay of Plenty Youth Justice regional manager, Shawn Brown. 

He also said, "We want to take at risk youth and give them a different pathway."

It's a joined-up approach between the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, Huntly College, Police, Ministry of Education, Waikato DHB and Waahi Whānui.

"A lot of the time we're operating inside of a reactive process, that we wait for people to offend and then we put supports around that," said Waikato Police Iwi Liaison officer, Destry Murphy.

He also said, "There's an opportunity here for where those young people don't have to fall into the youth justice system." 

The programme can take up to 20 young people at a time and will ensure young people's voices and also their best interests are front and centre. 

The 15-year-old female participant hopes the programme will help her to stay out of trouble and make her way to university after school and the 15-year old male said he wants to become a police officer.

Support and parenting tools are also available for whānau to help change behaviours such as anger, violence and substance abuse.