The two stories in the past week couldn't be more different. A silly young man, Korotangi Paki, son of Maori King Tuheitia Paki, getting into strife. And the other, former New Zealand test cricketer Lou Vincent telling of his experience as a match-fixer and cheat.

As parents we hope our children will listen, learn and grow up to do the right thing. That they will not be influenced by their peers and will make choices based on good judgment and respect for others. The king's son, unfortunately like many young New Zealanders do each week, appeared in court on a number of charges. He has some growing up to do.

The judge gave him a break by discharging him without conviction and requesting that a restorative plan be put in place to get him back on the straight and narrow. That's what I call an enlightened judge.

Discharge without conviction happens every week in our courts. When it's a first offence, I particularly agree with this proactive approach for young offenders. Get in up front and as early as possible. There are more judges now who know the value of restorative processes and use it for a variety of crimes, including domestic violence offences.


It was interesting this week to hear the judges speaking at the book launch A Restorative Approach to Family Violence. In this area the use of restorative justice was never used. Resources continued to be allocated to the criminal justice system, despite its acknowledged failings.

Now there are a range of initiatives being undertaken and developed to ensure a better commitment by communities and families to eliminate and reduce offending. Restorative justice has an important part to play.

Judges appear keen to look to more creative solutions, rather than imposing sentences that have in the past made little lasting difference.

But in the case of Vincent, who told his story in the media last week, here's an adult who definitely should have known better. Win at all costs. Or loose as it happens.

This has never been what New Zealand sportsmen and sportswomen are about.

For decades they have taken to the pitch, field, court, track, ring and played fair. Hard yes, but never stooped to match-fixing and cheating. That's something that runs totally against the New Zealand psyche and sense of fair play.

We respect opponents that give us a run for our money. They meet us head on and give as good as they get. You only have to look at how we treat our Australian cousins. It's a love/hate relationship. We love to hate them on the field but we also have a grudging respect to their commitment to never give in.

With Australians it's definitely "not over till it's over".


That's why we feel let down by the cheating behaviour of Vincent.

You can bet there were other New Zealand cricketers, over the years, offered all sorts of inducements to cheat. So why didn't they?

I'm sure many of them could have done with the money. I don't know how much top cricketers get paid, those who represent New Zealand in international matches. Flying high, above the hoi polloi, costs money so they would have to earn well.

Vincent was greedy. He admits this. He took the money offered and decided it was worth the risk. I presume he didn't think about the consequences should he get caught.

He lied and cheated for five years. He's sorry now, has come clean and wants to make amends. He won't be doing that on any cricket ground in the world. He has been banned from them for life. I'm betting he won't get a warm reception either from cricket fans or from his former cricket mates. Cheating is something you just don't do.

Everyone feels dishonoured.

In both cases, Korotangi Paki and Lou Vincent, public interest has been high.

A young man's life stretches ahead of him. With good family support he will survive intact and go on to be the leader he was destined to be.

I hope Vincent is able to move forward, too. In his case, past behaviour should not define his future.

Merepeka lives in Rotorua. She writes, speaks and broadcasts to thwart the spread of political correctness.