July 12, 2023
Ngapuhi eyes Oranga Tamariki alternative
A Te Tai Tokerau social worker says the Government should support the expansion of successful youth rehabilitation programs run by iwi providers rather than rely so heavily on Oranga Tamariki and its remand facilities.
Allegations of staff misconduct at the child protection agency’s residential units, including inappropriate sexual action and filming fights between residents, are being investigated.
Ngapuhi Iwi Social Services team leader Sharon Armstrong says her organisation’s Mahuru youth offender programme in Kaikohe has proved it is a viable alternative
“We always have two sets of eyes on the taitamariki. That means 2 mentors work with one young person when they’re with us Monday to Friday. That’s because these young people are on remand, and as such they’re not free to go wherever they wish. We do move around in the community though – and I think that’s really important – in terms of moving forwards for their integration back to their whanaus and the communities they’ve come from,” she says.
Ms Armstrong says despite chronic under-resourcing, Mahuru works because it refuses to institutionalise the rangatahi, treats them with respect, and tries to find genuine solutions to turn their lives around.