A partnership between Te Hiku iwi and police has impressed the Minister of Social Development, who visited Kaitaia earlier this month.
Carmel Sepuloni visited Te Hiku Development Trust and Waitomo Papakainga Trust, to learn how initiatives from Te Hiku Social Accord were progressing. One is Whiria Te Muka, a partnership between the police and iwi designed to reduce and prevent whanau harm.
The innovative approach, launched in January, weaves a team of iwi kaimahi and police officers who work with whanau and support providers to find solutions to reduce domestic violence.
Far North police area commander Inspector Riki Whiu, the governance lead of Whiria Te Muka, told Ms Sepuloni that lessons from the initiative so far had been invaluable.
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Whiria Te Muka is part of the major police whanau harm initiative Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke. In Te Hiku, the partnership is mandated under the Te Hiku Social Accord, and contributes to the priority of seeing whanau living and thriving in safety.
Whiria Te Muka kaimahi, who have been exploring how to work with whanau to safeguard their mana, shared learning around how the approach wasmaking positive change with the Minister. Examples included a man who stopped himself from assaulting his partner by leaving the home to cool off. One woman told one of the Whiria Te Muka police officers that she didn't usually like police, but saw that he was different.
Ms Sepuloni said the Whiria Te Muka partnership had set a benchmark, including around the discussion of what was mana-enhancing for whanau.
"You're speaking life or death into that person's situation, and it's so important that we're speaking life, regardless of how they present, because we don't know what they're coming through the door with," she said.
Ms Sepuloni, whose visit followed the Te Hiku o Te Ika-Crown Taumata Rangatira hui in Wellington in June, said she would be returning to challenge her ministerial colleagues involved in the Te Hiku Social Accord to come North before the hui re-convenes in October.