A recommendation from the Expert Advisory Panel was that smaller community-based settings would better support rangatahi while they are on remand and awaiting charges to come before the courts. Following this, a small number of community-based remand homes were established in 2017 and 2018.
As a long-term solution, it was proposed that community-based youth justice placements that are therapeutic and enable local tikanga to be practised be developed to meet the need for culturally appropriate services.
Oranga Tamariki aims to continue its investment in community-based placements, including the investment in the New Builds project. An essential step in developing the New Builds is to understand how well the current community-based youth justice remand homes are working to achieve the outcomes, particularly for rangatahi Māori and their whānau. The New Builds reflect the intent of section 7AA (s7AA) within the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, to improve
outcomes and reduce disparities for tamariki/rangatahi Māori and their whānau, and implement policies and practices that reflect te ao Māori, including mana tamaiti, whakapapa, and whanaungatanga responsibilities.
While various models of community-based placements are being run in Aotearoa, there is little information on how these models are being implemented. Although too early to assess the longer-term outcomes, the evaluation will describe the remand homes' practices.
Broadly, the evaluation aims to:
- provide learning to inform the development of the New Builds
- explore what is working well in the existing suite of community-based remand homes, including those operated by iwi and non-iwi community partners
- highlight opportunities for improvements for the remand homes to achieve desired outcomes and inform new investments to align with the Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice’s future direction.
Kaupapa Māori methodology guided the evaluation by drawing on ngā ura (values), tikanga (practices), te reo Māori and Māori practice models.
Success case study was the primary method of data collection, with complementary document and administrative data review. Between September and December 2021 the evaluation team interviewed 41 people face-to-face or by Zoom from four remand homes with diverse approaches and offering unique opportunities and experiences for young people. The remand homes are:
- Mahuru Youth Services, Kaikohe – operated by Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services (NISS), delivers programmes, offers advice and support embedded in mātauranga-a-Ngāpuhi.
- Aufua le Taeao, Auckland – operated by Emerge Aotearoa (EA), a national charitable trust with a long history of providing health and social services throughout Aotearoa.
- Will Street, Dunedin – initially established in 2017 and operated by Oranga Tamariki. Since 2017 it has undergone a few changes, including a recent reset of practices, policies, and staffing.
- Whare Tuhua, Tauranga – operated by Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust, a kaupapa Māori-based organisation committed to weaving whānau and the wider community together.
Remand homes are working well to meet the needs of rangatahi and their whānau, encouraging rangatahi to look positively towards their future and pursue their dreams. Within these whanau-centric environments, rangatahi are supported to consider their previous actions and make positive changes.
The way current remand homes operate is significantly different to ‘traditional’ state care where adults typically hold power over rangatahi. The degree to which the remand homes are steeped in te ao Māori varies among the whare. In cases where homes practice as explicitly Māori, we are seeing strengthened connection to self, whānau and community for rangatahi. An exemplar remand home which is achieving such outcomes is Mahuru, delivered by Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services.
The evaluation recommends that Oranga Tamariki further explore procurement, contracting and support processes to transition all remand homes towards culturally appropriate community-based youth justice placements that are therapeutic and enable local tikanga to be practised.