New kaupapa Māori approach for high-risk youth offenders

By Jessica Tyson

The Children's Commissioner is looking to change the way New Zealand cares for high-risk youth offenders by phasing the closure of current protection residences and replacing them with community group homes.

In a new report Maiea Te Tūruapō, Fulfilling the Vision by the office, Commissioner Andrew Becroft argues for the new homes to run in partnership with iwi and Māori organisations and follow a kaupapa Māori approach.

Becroft says almost two-thirds of the 6,300 children and young people in state care identify as Māori.

"The revised Oranga Tamariki Act is very clear that these tamariki Māori have the right to access care services designed specifically for them," he says.

"Iwi and Māori organisations should be fully resourced to respond to the needs of their own children and young people, to develop what is best for them, drawing on Oranga Tamariki's advice and support when required.”

The report, which is part of the Commissioner’s State of Care series, says more community group homes will mean the present care and protection custodial residences can be phased out over time.

It also suggests there will be less pressure on the four youth justice residences for remand purposes.

The report identifies and teases out 21 experiences young people with offending or at-risk behaviour, who are in care, will benefit from.