A Ministry of Justice initiative to help youths move away from crime has been extended to Northland a decade after it first started.

The 15th Rangatahi Court will be launched at Terenga Paraoa Marae on Porowini Ave in Whangarei tomorrow to provide an option for youths to undergo monitoring of their family group conference in a marae setting.

Rangatahi courts are part of the Youth Court, which deals with people up to the age of 16 charged with serious offences other than murder, manslaughter, aggravated robbery and arson.

Those who admit their offending and agree to a family group conference will be referred to the Tangatahi Court in Whangarei and marae social services, kaumatua and kuia will help in rehabilitating them.

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The monitoring of family group conference plans is culturally adapted for the marae but the Rangatahi Court will apply the same sentencing options available to the Youth Court.

Offenders will be expected to take part in a powhiri and whakawhanaungatanga, a process for establishing relationships.

Whangarei District Court Judge Greg Davis and Hamilton-based Judge Denise Clark, who is from Kohukohu, have led the development of the Rangatahi Court in Whangarei.

Judge Clark will be the presiding judge in the new court in the initial months before Judge Greg Davis takes over later this year.

By July next year the Youth Court jurisdiction will be extended to include most 17-year-old offenders.

Five Rangatahi courts are operating in Auckland, and one each in Gisborne, New Plymouth, Hamilton, Whakatane, Rotorua, Huntly, Tauranga, Taupo and Christchurch.

Rangatahi Court is based on the Koori Court model in Perth and Victoria in Australia where the court processes are adjusted to cater for Aboriginal youth offenders.

Almost two out of three young people who appear in the Youth Court are Maori.