Te Kooti Rangatahi
“It is not a separate system of youth justice for Māori… The youth justice process remains the same, but part of it — the monitoring of FGC plans — takes place on the Marae, and hopefully unlocks the potential of the local marae community to work with the young offender and their whānau.” - Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft.
The marae-based youth court, Te Kooti Rangatahi, aims to use the traditional values of tikanga Māori to turn around the lives of young Māori offenders.
Te Kooti Rangatahi is a judicially-led initiative which the Ministry of Justice supports, with the intention of facilitating and reconnecting young people with their culture. In this way, the marae-based Youth Court involves the wider community – whānau, hapū and iwi, in an attempt to enhance the usual Youth Court process.
While focused on young Māori, both Māori and non-Māori are eligible for the Rangatahi court process. Young people (rangatahi) who admit the charge(s) they are facing in the regular Youth Court can choose to have their next hearing held on the marae. Their family group conference takes place there, as does further monitoring of the offender.
On the day, rangatahi come in with their families, and there are also police and Child Youth and Family and other agency staff. They have a pōhiri and speeches and then kai, so the atmosphere is totally different and much more relaxed than a normal court. It is expected that the marae setting and the scrutiny of kaumātua should make young Māori offenders more respectful and respond more positively.