A new youth court, Te Kooti Rangatahi ki Tūwharetoa was launched in the weekend at Rauhotu marae in Taupō. It follows the successful establishment of similar marae-based youth courts throughout Aotearoa.
Rangatira of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu says the court provides his iwi and the authorities a prime opportunity to make a difference to the lives of young people.
The very first rangatahi court was launched in Gisborne in 2008 by Youth Court Judge Hemi Taumaunu.
This initiative uses the Youth Court framework and aims to help young Māori and their whānau engage with the justice system in ways that make sense to them.
Sir Tumu says he concurs with what Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft mentioned at the ceremony in the weekend, that it was an occasion to feel both happy and sad at the same time.
“We should accept Judge Becroft’s challenge to embrace the youth court and celebrate the opportunity to have it, yet at the same time we should feel sad that there is a need for one at all.”
Sir Tumu also adds “A haerenga (journey) across our marae and to Tuwharetoa members around the country gave us a clear message to further promote our language, customs and protocols across all ages and to be rich in the knowledge of knowing who we are and where we come from.
“In response, Tuwharetoa made a comittment to facilitate and reconnect young people with their culture starting with the Marae.”
There is the hope that they use Te Kooti Rangatahi as a way of helping rangatahi to develop a sense of identity and belonging as a member of a whānau, hapū and iwi.