How a rangatahi in youth justice turned a page

Published: March 7, 2024

"To say we are proud is an understatement and even more so we are super proud of the kaimahi who supported them".

Te Puna Wai
Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo is one of Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice Residences in Ōtautahi.

VJ Lavender, Residence Manager of Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo, in Ōtautahi Christchurch says kaimahi, partners and the community do all they can to support young people in their rehabilitation and ensure positive outcomes are achieved. 

Young people have access to personal and professional development

VJ shared the story of how a young person was able to turn their life around through the sites rehabilitation programme and their willingness to change. Youth Justice residences provide a safe, secure and supportive environment where rangatahi can get their lives back on track and improve their prospects for the future.

The environment allowed the young person to reflect on their actions and behaviour and realise their mistakes and turn it around and focus on forging a positive future for themselves. 
VJ says the young person was very active and engaged in the rehabilitation and development programmes offered at Te Puna Wai, including cooking, getting involved in the agriculture programme and given the opportunity to learn new skills in fencing, using tools and animal care and to gain a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work.  

Te Puna Wai, with the support of providers, offers a driving school programme once a week and provides individualised driving lessons in a simulator with an experienced NZTA qualified instructor. Young people can then practice the skills needed to attain their Drivers Licences.

VJ said “all of the kaimahi at Te Puna Wai had noticed a change in the young person over the past months and had matured and grown up”.  

Turning point for young person

An Oranga Tamariki case worker and employment coordinator worked alongside the young person in preparation for their next steps. Due to the young person’s offending, the Court would determine the way forward.  
VJ says ‘when probation wrote the sentencing report for the Court they recommended imprisonment for the young person‘.  
The young person’s employment coordinator and case manager worked with a case manager from Ministry of Social Development (MSD) provided a report for the court. It included the rehabilitation work and progress the young person had made during their time at Te Puna Wai. In response to the reports, the probation officer amended their recommendation to allow the young person to continue their rehabilitation and progress on home detention. 
VJ said, “I spoke to the young person later that night after Court and they said the Judge commented on the mahi they had been doing”. 

“To say we are proud is an understatement”

Before the young person was discharged from Te Puna Wai, the young person’s employment coordinator and the case manager had secured them an interview at a local business making fence posts and other building equipment.   
VJ says “we found out not long ago that they attended the interview and has been offered a job there. 

To say we are proud is an understatement and even more so we are super proud of the kaimahi here who supported the young person. Especially the employment coordinator and case manager who went the extra mile and went into bat for him to ensure the young person has the best chance of success”.