By Katie Doyle of RNZ

Three young offenders at Te Maioha o Parekarangi - an Oranga Tamariki Youth ran Youth Justice residence in Rotorua - are learning how to become dairy farmers.

As part of the course, run on the neighbouring Parekarangi farm, the boys learn how to mend fences, ride motorcycles, calve and milk cows among other skills.

For one young man, who RNZ is calling James, being on the farm makes him feel free.

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"Oh well being locked up, it's hard to be being locked up behind bars and stuff, but being free, it's good to be free..."

James ended up in the youth justice system for robbing dairies and stealing cars, which he would sleep in when he got kicked out of home.

Richard Te Whare. Photo: RNZ / Katie Doyle
Richard Te Whare. Photo: RNZ / Katie Doyle

But that was his past.

In the future, James wants to pursue dairy farming because it reminds him of his dad who also worked on a dairy farm.

Getting on the farm wasn't easy for James and his peers.

Youth worker Brad Tipuna. Photo: RNZ / Katie Doyle
Youth worker Brad Tipuna. Photo: RNZ / Katie Doyle

The boys had to show they were up for the challenge by staying out of trouble inside the residence walls.

Now they are able to feed animals, build fences, dock lamb tails and milk the cows.

The boys can get up to 29 NCEA credits for working on the farm, and a further 26 are up for grabs in building and horticulture.

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