A new police/community initiative aimed at reducing family harm in the Far North has been formally presented to the Police Executive at Police National Headquarters in Wellington.
Whiria Te Muka, the first partnership generated by the Te Hiku Social Accord with Te Hiku iwi, weaves support around communities to better engage whanau and make a real difference in their lives.
Te Hiku iwi leader Haami Piripi (Te Rarawa) said the simple mission of Whiria te Muka was to save lives.
"I see it, everyone sees it. There is real danger for some of our whanau," he said.
"Historically it has been clear that we weren't working effectively enough to fix the underlying reasons for the violence that was occurring. Everyone — police, iwi, agencies and communities — has a responsibility to work together in ways that can build whanau trust so they can get the help they need."
Northland District Police Commander, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, said the initiative had enabled a new focus on doing the right thing at the right time for whanau, and to ensure that support was available in the background whenever the police were involved.
"It is about putting the whanau voice at the centre of our collective response, and ensuring that their wellbeing is the top priority," he said.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said at the presentation that for most of his 40-year career there had been a feeling that family harm was just part of life that the police could not really do anything about it.
"We can't accept that. We don't accept that. We must do something to make a difference," he said.
"Our job is to enable good people to go out there and make a massive difference where they can.
"For our National Executive, the question now is how can we support the Te Hiku team to do that work, for our young people and for future generations? We owe it to future generations to change things for the better."
Mr Piripi said that supporting the initiative had been a challenge and a brave step for police and iwi.
"We have built a very significant relationship through this process," he said.
"Whiria has been co-designed around our iwi paradigms and cultural perspectives, to ensure we build enough trust and acceptance from whanau to get them the support they need. The underpinning principle of Whiria te Muka, 'Ruia, Ruia,' means that the last footprint for whanau is always a Maori one, otherwise we're not doing it right."
"When we enter Maori homes, we can now bring these partnerships with us, which provides greater acceptance from whanau and a willingness to engage.
Staff are buoyant and enthusiastic about these relationships and the new way forward," Superintendent Le Prou said. "Iwi have taught us a lot about how we can do our jobs better, which has changed mindsets about the way we police in our communities.
I believe Whiria te Muka has role-modelled a real and genuine treaty partnership, and provided a blue print for the future of policing in Northland.
"We've seen a 16.9 per cent drop in serious violence in Northland recently, and Whiria te Muka will contribute to these positive outcomes for whanau in Te Hiku."