National | Crime

Crime rehab programme Te Pae Oranga extends to Huntly

An initiative that aims to break the cycle of reoffending for Māori is expanding further into the Waikato town of Huntly.

Te Pae Oranga was set up in 2013 to hold people accountable for their actions and help them address their problems.

Police will now be able to refer eligible participants to Waahi Paa Marae in Huntly instead of court.

Participants meet with an iwi panel to discuss their options, including support to quit drugs and alcohol, job and licence training and to learn how their actions may have impacted their victim(s).

Māori health campaigner Lady Tureiti Moxon said it was important to disrupt current processes as many Māori go from Oranga Tamariki into youth homes, prisons and then on to mental health facilities.

"It's appropriate that Te Pae Oranga is stood up on Kiingi Tūheitia's marae, which is supported wholeheartedly by the community.

Lady Tureiti Moxon. Photo: Supplied

"This pipeline has plagued Aotearoa since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and continues to this day. The referrals into Te Pou Oranga come directly from the police but far too many Māori are pipelined through the District Court and this needs to change".

She believed the justice system had traditionally been anti-Māori given the disproportionate criminal justice outcomes for Māori, who are dealt with more severely.

"We know from research that the outcome for rangatahi, Māori and non-Māori going before court for the same crime are often very different."

She advocated the solution lay within the community.

Police data showed 17,405 Te Pae Oranga referrals were made between October 2017 and April 2023. More than 500 referrals had been made to panels in Hamilton alone, since 2018.

Independent research had found the approach caused a 22.25 percent reduction in harm.

There were currently panels in 22 other locations, including Moerewa, Kaitaia, Whangārei and Kaipara; Waitematā, Auckland City, Papakura, Māngere, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Whakatane, Gisborne, Hastings, Taranaki, Palmerston North, Masterton, Porirua, Lower Hutt, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.