The promise of fried chicken and burgers proved to be the winning negotiation chip that got five youths off the roof of an Oranga Tamariki facility in South Auckland - after a stand-off that lasted about 30 hours.
OT deputy chief executive, Tusha Penny, confirmed the situation had been resolved last night and that KFC and McDonald’s were brought in for the group after they came down.
“We did give them takeaways. So they got KFC and McDonald’s to come down. But like I said, we got them down safely after that period of time,” she told the AM Show.
Police and OT staff had been dealing with the situation since Saturday afternoon, when a group of youths escaped a unit and made their way onto the top of the building in protest.
Three of them came down about 6.30pm yesterday. The last two chose to come down about 10.30pm.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, Penny said the group made “a number of demands” in the end.
“Working together [with Police], to be honest with you, is where we got the resolution. Although it took a number of hours - and these young people were given multiple opportunities to come down.”
Asked what got them to come down, Penny acknowledged the length of time the group had been on the roof for, by that stage, as well as what she described as a mixed-model of negotiation.
“It was always going to end,” she said.
Asked specifically whether KFC or any other fast-food was offered to the youths, in order to come off the roof, Penny did not say.
“Okay, so there were a number of demands - and yes, of course, we did give them food and in some cases, we gave them a phone call.”
But after nearly 40 hours, she said, they wanted to resolve the issue.
The question about whether KFC was provided to the group comes after a group of youths who protested on the roof of Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo youth justice facility, near Christchurch, last week were given Kentucky Fried Chicken afterwards, Stuff reported.
The demands also included that they be allowed to call their girlfriends.
Those involved in the Auckland situation are now in police custody off-site.
The group spent a night on the roof of the 40-bed Korowai Manaaki facility, in Wiri, after forcing their way out of a unit on Saturday afternoon, about 12.40pm.
Fire and Emergency NZ was alerted to the situation about two hours later.
Temperatures late on Saturday night through to the early hours of yesterday dropped to about 11C and there was heavy rain in the area.
It is understood the youths were given blankets during the stand-off.
Issues around roof access need to be addressed
Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis, thanked authorities for their professional handling of the incident.
He also called for solutions, however.
“While we need to remember these were not adults, this behaviour is unacceptable, can’t be tolerated and there will be consequences for these young people,” he said.
“In the meantime, Oranga Tamariki needs to immediately look at solutions for issues around roof access and I expect this to be done with speed.”
OT chief executive Mike Bush said on Saturday that their priority was the safety of the young people involved and, as a result, were managing the situation “with extreme caution”.
“We are practising safe and reasonable negotiation tactics and working to de-escalate the situation.”
Second roof incident in a week
The incident follows a similar situation at Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo youth justice facility near Christchurch last week.
A staff member received a broken wrist and four young people spent the night in Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo’s roof cavity last Saturday.
The fifth youth who also escaped to the roof came down in the evening.
The remaining four were brought down by ladder on Sunday morning, 24 hours after the incident began, and put in police custody.