New Zealand's 15th Kōti Rangatahi, Rangatahi Court, will open at a ceremony in Whangārei on 24 February 2018.
Rangatahi Courts aim to provide the best possible rehabilitative care for young offenders by reconnecting them with their cultural identity, and meaningfully involving local Māori in the process. The Whangārei court will be hosted by Terenga Parāoa Marae.
The courts are judicially-led initiatives and the first was established in Gisborne in 2008. The courts operate within the Youth Court jurisdiction and are not separate courts. They are an option for those who have admitted to their offending or had charges proved in the Youth Court and choose to undergo monitoring of their family group conference plans in a marae setting.
In Northland in the year to 30 June 2017, 134 young people appeared in Youth Court, with just over half of those in Whangārei. More than 80% of those young people were Māori.
Principal Youth Court Judge John Walker says providing culturally responsive justice is vital when two-thirds of those appearing in the Youth Court are Māori.
"This is a significant addition to the approaches available to the Youth Court in Whangārei for delivering effective interventions to address the underlying causes of offending," he says.
"Whangārei Terenga Parāoa Marae is part of an inclusive marae complex that allows Māori of the district to come together, and we hope that a Rangatahi Court there will provide an alternative for young people and their whānau, hapū and iwi."