NZ Maori Council comes out swinging and calls for the Government to clean up the youth detention & justice system: failing our kids
The New Zealand Maori Council has called on the Government to step in and ensure the recommendations made by the
Children’s Commissioner in respect of youth detention facilities be implemented without delay. The Report released to
the previous Government carried a series of recommendations that are still sitting on the shelf. New Zealand Maori
Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, also bought into question as to whether or not the failure to implement the
recommendations was tantamount to a breach of the rights of the child under international conventions New Zealand was a
“80 percent of young people detained in secure youth justice facilities were on remand while awaiting the end of their
court case and that is nowhere near good enough. Something has fundamentally broken down in not only the child care
protection system but the youth justice system more generally. The fact is about 80% of those children are Maori and we
want them out of those facilities without any further delays.” Tukaki said.
“These recommendations have been sitting on the shelf for more than two years now and while the previous Government
needs to be held to account the reality is the Agency is charge with their implementation. Quite frankly their
non-performance is beginning to undermine the excellent work the Minister, Tracey Martin, is doing.” Tukaki said.
“As much as we push forward it appears we are being pushed two steps back. Its also recognition of the fact that we have
too many hands in the pot with this one – and our children and young people are suffering as a result. We also need to
ask the question about just how many conventions New Zealand is a part of that we are possibly in contravention of. And
then there is the Treaty breach – we need to look at whether or not the failure of this youth detention model is a
breach of the Treaty and if so what do we need to do in partnership with the Crown to fix it.
The recommendations contained within the report are as follows:
• Recommendation 1: Oranga Tamariki articulates a clear vision for the purpose of both youth justice and care and
protection residences, supported by a national strategy for their operation that is consistently implemented across all
residences Residences should be transformational for children and young people who reside in them. We have provided 18
actions that could form the basis of the national strategy for residences (see page 41). The design of future residences
should build in the enablers listed in Figure 1 (Page 40).
• Recommendation 2: Oranga Tamariki develops and implements a clear national strategy for meeting the needs of
mokopuna Māori, and ensures that all residences have easy access to cultural advice and support The new Section 7A of
the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill puts new requirements on the Chief
Executive of Oranga Tamariki to improve outcomes for Māori. For real shifts to be made in this area, Oranga Tamariki
must have a clear, proactive national strategy to address the needs of mokopuna Māori in effective, culturally
appropriate ways. This will involve strengthening partnerships with iwi and Māori organisations and ensuring residences
have ready access to ongoing cultural advice and support.
• Recommendation 3: The Government commits to increased independent monitoring of Oranga Tamariki residences,
particularly during this period of change Conditions within a residence can change quickly, especially from the
perspective of a child or young person. We believe that residences should be independently monitored more frequently –
at least once every six months, with the flexibility to monitor more frequently if necessary. The majority of the
residence monitoring should be ‘unannounced’ random visits. Experience overseas is clear that more realistic information
and assessments arise from these inspections rather than prearranged ‘announced’ visits. Increased funding will be
required to do this. Current funding does not allow monitoring that is sufficiently regular or detailed.
• Recommendation 4: Oranga Tamariki creates an external, independent Advisory/Reference Group to provide advice on
best practice in residences There needs to be regular consultation with a group of experts regarding best practice in
both youth justice and care and protection residences. Custodial care, therapeutic care, and trauma informed practice
are specialised areas which require ongoing input from an independent expert group at least twice a year. The Advisory
Group should be put together as soon as possible to guide national office in their design of future residential