Justice Minister Simon Power has called for an urgent report from officials on a top judge's suggestion that programmes to stop domestic violence should be redesigned for one-off offenders and for Maori and Asian men.
Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier said on Monday that the current standard group programmes for men whose partners were granted protection orders against them did not suit all offenders.
"I believe we should screen in order to determine whether attendance is likely to be effective," he said.
He suggested different approaches for "one-off acts of violence" and for Maori and Asian men, noting that almost a quarter of protection orders were granted against Maori respondents even though Maori made up only 14.6 per cent of the population.
Mr Power said he rang Judge Boshier yesterday and was keen to meet him to discuss his ideas.
He has also asked Ministry of Justice officials for written advice on the issue.
Agencies running anti-violence programmes yesterday generally agreed with Judge Boshier's comments, but said they would need more resources.
"What is needed is more funding to explore that," said the director of Friendship House in Manukau, the Rev Vicki Sykes.
She said her agency already ran a Samoan-language programme but it did not get any Government funding to set it up.
"It took three years to get that programme approved. Once we got it approved, now we are training up more facilitators who can speak Samoan so we can increase our capacity, and we are close to being able to open up a second group," she said.
"We are also working with Indian community groups to support them in the development of their programmes and training some of their facilitators with our team." She said Maori agencies in Otahuhu and Mangere also ran separate programmes for Maori offenders.
The men's programme co-ordin-ator at Preventing Violence in the Home, Aaron Steed-man, said he already directed men who were either deaf, extremely angry or who spoke little English into one-to-one counselling instead of group sessions.
"I've had a Burmese man who had an interpreter with him and we spent 13 sessions together," he said. "A lot of it is just explaining the differences in the law between the two countries. They just served this piece of paper on him, he didn't know what it was."
Mr Steedman said court bailiffs who served protection orders should try to make sure the respondents understood what they meant.
Meanwhile, Mr Power said he planned a second bill on domestic violence.
He introduced a bill before Christmas which would allow police to issue on-the-spot safety orders ordering offenders to leave their homes for up to five days.