By: Anne Hobby, Tumuaki
Te Piki Oranga, in partnership with Tasman Police launched Te Pae Oranga: Iwi Community Panels for the Tasman district at Whakatū Marae 16 May 2018. This follows successful pilot programmes in Lower Hutt, Gisborne, and Counties Manukau in recent years. Effective interventions at the interface between the criminal justice system and health systems have the potential to make a significant impact on Hauora Māori. There is poorer health among those people who are unsafe, insecure, unemployed or in low-control and poorly paid jobs (Shaw et al 1999). This includes the justice system where high arrest and conviction rates contribute to Maori unemployment (Hunter 2005).
Te Pae Oranga see justice sector agencies and the community working together to reduce reoffending, by offering alternate solutions to address lower-level offending other than going directly into the court system. Te Piki Oranga will facilitate the panel and support services. Iwi of the rohe and community groups have been invited to put forward people who are well connected to their community and have the skills to participate on the panel. Police are providing training to panel members.
People facing low-level offences such as shoplifting or disorder which would have a penalty of less than six months in prison could be referred to the panel by a police officer. The panel would then look at ensuring the participant was accountable for their actions, but importantly that any underlying causes of the behaviours are addressed to help rehabilitation, prevent future offending and support that person to become a productive member of the community. For example there is good evidence for alternative approaches to reduce recidivism for people with underlying alcohol and drug issues and those involved in less serious crime (Ministry of Health 2007). Victims also are an important part of the process.