Te Ngira: Youth justice important on the marae

This month our spotlight is on our kaumatua, who work on the Kirikiriroa Marae inputting into the youth court that operates from there.

"In the late 50s and into the 60s it sort of shifted from a horse and cart revolution to an industrial revolution and that meant people became separated from their families due to work.

Many homes became divided because people wanted to cash in - what slowly crept in was that the children became less well managed - "Hey let's work Saturday/Sunday, save money for a flash, new TV" ...

Then everybody had to shoosh to watch the television and the television became the central figure in the house.

The marae court justice is trying to recapture to restore what happened before the industrial raid on the core values - to restore the communication between the older generation and their children, where the older ones can address the needs of the children. To influence how he [sic] can behave to enable best to conduct himself ..."

Our kaumatua told me the Marae Youth Court is a good thing if it is structured correctly. The objective was always to create an opportunity for families to be involved with their youth (taiohi) and [the court] meets that objective not only with families but local kaumatua. Together, the court is involved in creating a path, providing a wide range of opportunities. But the process also allows [the taiohi] to participate in how the court works and there is potential for them to be proud to be a part of it.

In the Marae Youth Court, there are similarities to an every-day court, but the difference is that there is a recreation of an environment that is almost a restoration to what happened before the 50s and 60s and that was closeness between the adult and the young person.

The Marae Youth Court process begins with the tikanga. "First there is the karanga component. And with the karanga process it brings about not only the taiohi, there is a multitude of unseen guests, which is made up of his whakapapa ..."

"The taiohi become aware that the values of their culture are maintained in a court environment".

When the judge concludes her summing up, she asks the kaumatua if there's anything they wish to say ... "Mainly it's around family support - sometimes it's a bit of growling, but we have to give a clear statement to the court ..."

"The elder's recommendations are almost in line with the proverbial saying 'to look back, is to lose but one eye, but not to look back at all, is to lose both eyes' The elders can bring to the forefront the past, which is important to his growing up and other supports (services) can direct or point [the taiohi] to a better future ..."

'In the past, it was just an individual standing there being told they were going to jail - almost wishing that they're going to jail, but the Marae Youth court makes them think about what they're doing - rebuild their family ties ... '

- Hamilton News

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