Māori designed, developed and delivered initiatives to reduce Māori offending and re-offending

Māori designed, developed and delivered initiatives to reduce Māori offending and re-offending


Ben Ngaia, supported by Te Puni Kōkiri staff, welcomed and acknowledged all those present.


The purpose of the wānanga was outlined by Harry Tam, Policy Manager at Te Puni Kōkiri. Primarily, the wānanga was an opportunity to share the learning from Māori designed, developed and delivered initiatives with policy analysts and others working to address the drivers of crime and with an interest in reducing the over-representation of Māori in the criminal justice system.

Harry explained that the impetus for this work began three or four years ago when the former government was concerned about high rates of Māori imprisonment. It became clear that Māori wanted an opportunity to design, develop and deliver initiatives themselves to address the problems leading to high levels of imprisonment.

The way policy development works is premised on research evidence but there is little evidence-based information on what works for Māori. Most of the evidence that informs what is designed for Government is from overseas and not based on actual Māori experience.

It is important to look at how Māori see the world and the solutions that Māori design for their communities. Māori tend to develop initiatives based on hypotheses, but do not have the resources to research them or fully evaluate them. They then find that government funders say that there is no evidence to support the initiatives. However, in practice there is much to be learnt from Māori designed, developed and delivered initiatives and early evaluations have shown promising results.

The format planned for the day was for the providers of justice-related initiatives, funded by Te Puni Kōkiri, to highlight the key elements of their service model and share key messages to the government policy analysts present. The idea of bringing the providers together to share their experience and provide opportunity for policy learning came initially from Trish Joseph who was working at Te Puni Kōkiri on the contracts and evaluation of the first six initiatives. It was a good idea and exciting to be able to have time together to learn from each other.

The initiatives presenting:

  • Kia Whakakotahi – The Taita Project - Kim Workman
  • Te Whakaruruhau Women’s Refuge – Ruahine Albert and Ariana Simpson
  • Te Whare Ruruhau o Meri – Hera Clark
  • Hard to Reach Youth Project – CART – Denis O'Reilly, Roy Dunn, Edge Te Whaiti and Laurence O'Reilly
  • Puawaitanga – Kevin Tamati
  • Taonga Education Centre – Anne Candy and Georgina Kupa.
  • Maatangireia Trust – Roberta Karangaroa.

Mention was also made of Māori designed, developed, delivered initiatives supported by Te Puni Kōkiri but unable to attend as presenters to the wānanga: Mana Social Service’s Awhi Whānau programme, the Rangatahi Court at Poho-o-Rawiri in Gisborne and a reintegration initiative led by Aroha Terry.

The time has come to research Māori designed, developed and delivered initiatives, to evaluate them, to accumulate and establish empirical evidence about what works for Māori, what does not and why.

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