A report released today on the effectiveness of the Rangatahi Court (te Kooti Rangatahi) shows positive early results for the programme, says Courts Minister Chester Borrows.
The report was released at Hoani Waititi Marae today by Mr Borrows, along with Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples, Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft and Youth Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu.
The report is a qualitative assessment, surveying those involved with the Rangatahi Court on their experiences with the Court. It showed the Rangatahi Courts helped young Maori connect with their cultural identity, engage with their local marae community and find positive role models, which in turn encouraged positive behaviour such as active engagement with the court process.
“Arrests of young Māori have fallen almost 15 per cent over the last five years but they remain badly overrepresented in youth offending statistics, being arrested at more than three times the rate of Pacific or New Zealand European young people,” says Mr Borrows.
“Rangatahi Courts use a Māori specific environment to try and help young Māori and their whānau engage with the justice system in ways that make sense to them to hold them accountable for their offending and drive a long term reduction in reoffending.”
The Rangatahi Court is not a separate system of justice. It works within the existing legal framework but uses tikanga Maori and a marae as a venue. It is open to young people appearing in the regular Youth Court and allows those who admit the charges they are facing to have their Family Group Conference plan monitored on a marae.
“The research we are releasing today shows the courts successfully bring whānau, hapū and iwi together with young offenders to address the underlying causes of criminal offending, which is what will make a long-term difference for these young people,” Mr Borrows says.
“Further research is needed into the effect on reoffending rates, which I hope to see next year. For now though, the report I’m releasing today shows some encouraging early results.”
“Once we have more information, we will be able to make decisions on the future of the Rangatahi Court. I look forward to further results next year.”
The report, Evaluation of the Early Outcomes of Ngā Kooti Rangatahi, is available from www.justice.govt.nz