Eighteen months ago a pair of St John's College students snuck out of school with a cage to launch a silent protest at the Hastings Clock Tower that ended up capturing nationwide attention.
Eighteen months later, the seeds of activism have borne fruit in the form of a Labour Party policy that could change the way Hawke's Bay deals with drug offenders.
St John's College students James Barr and Ishan Parmar, who protested over prison conditions on that day, have since focused and refined that activism in conjunction with their peers.
At the start of this year, a group of St John's students launched a Youth Enterprise programme with the aim of setting up an alcohol and drug court in Hawke's Bay.
Policy Light House was an advocacy group of nine Year 10 and 11 students from the school in Hastings who made submissions to select committees on bills and act on social issues.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern on Friday announced that if elected, a Labour Government will introduce an Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court in Hawke's Bay, which will cost $11 million over four years, aiming to tackle the drivers of crime - alcohol, drug use and addiction - and reduce reoffending.
The announcement forms part of the party's long-term project to reduce offending and improve rehabilitation, which will involve an additional $59m investment over four years if it is re-elected to govern.
St John's College head of commerce and director of social enterprise and special projects David Ivory said while the topic is "not a glamour issue", students conducted research entirely outside of school hours.
Ivory said students spent months engaging with police, IT – Whatever It Takes, mayors, MPs Lawrence Yule and Stuart Nash, and district health boards.
"Students prepared evidence-based arguments on how a drug court approach would make both a financial and societal difference," he said.
"The college provides a supportive environment to allow advocacy and social justice action to flourish."
Labour candidate for Tukituki, Anna Lorck, said the announcement highlighted the significant positive action of the students.
"The leadership and awareness of young people to advocate for Hawke's Bay to have the investment in this service will have a real and positive impact, and we can all be very proud of their role in raising support for this with minister Andrew Little," she said.
Minister of Justice Andrew Little said New Zealand must "break the cycle of reoffending".
"Thirty years of locking more people up for longer has not made communities safe and has resulted in a reoffending rate of 61 per cent," he said.
"Victims still struggle to have their voice heard in the criminal justice system and we will work to strengthen their place and ensure their voices are heard."
Within two years, Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court participants are 23 per cent less likely to reoffend for any offence, 35 per cent less likely to reoffend for a serious offence and 25 per cent less likely to be imprisoned.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the "old ways" have failed New Zealand over decades.
"We will continue the work started this parliamentary term to reduce offending, reduce victimisation, tackle the root causes of crime and enhance community safety and wellbeing," she said.
The new Labour reforms also include the rollout of a meth treatment programme to 4000 more people, an expansion of Māori Pathways prison rehabilitation programme to wāhine Māori, and a strengthening of the Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services Group within police.
The ratio of police to population improved from one full-time officer per 541 people on June 30, 2017, to one to 496 in February 2020.
Napier MP Stuart Nash said the Government has been able to "go hard against gangs and organised crime networks" thanks to record growth in police numbers across the previous three years.
"Enforcement agencies are disrupting meth supply chains and seizing the proceeds of crime. We will keep up the momentum of growth in police numbers to match population growth.
"Enhanced diversity also enables police to better support communities through the work of specialist liaison officers," he said.