'Pleasing' first review of Maori youth courts

Updated at 7:21 pm on 19 December 2012

The first report on Maori youth courts has been released, showing what are being described as favourable results.

Rangatahi Courts are held on a marae, with Maori tikanga or protocol in the court process.

Nga Kooti Rangatahi was the brainchild of Youth Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu, who introduced the concept on Te Poho o Rawiri marae in Gisborne in 2008.

Since then 585 youth offenders have gone through 10 Rangatahi Courts in the North Island.

The report is a qualitative reflection of the courts' performance over the last four years and was released on Wednesday at Hoani Waititi marae in the Auckland suburb of Glen Eden.

Associate Minister of Justice Chester Burrows says the review is pleasing and he hopes the courts will be extended to the rest of the country.

He says Maori youth appearing in the courts recognise they need to treat people with respect, and are also treated with more respect there themselves, which they respond well to.

Mr Borrows says the report doesn't focus on re-offending rates, and he hopes a more robust review will be released soon.

Rangatahi Courts on track - Sharples

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says the evaluation of the early outcomes of the marae based court system for young Maori, shows the rangatahi courts are on track.

Dr Sharples says the report found the 10 courts in operation, are facilitating a process for youth to not only be held accountable for their actions, but to connect with their cultural identity.

He says making sure rangatahi have a strong connection with their identity and whanau, alongside developing adequate support structures within the whanau and the community, are critical to reducing re-offending rates.

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