Community-based remand homes

Published: December 8, 2022

A recommendation from the Expert Advisory Panel was that smaller community-based settings would better support rangatahi while they are on remand and awaiting charges to come before the courts. Following this, a small number of community-based remand homes were established in 2017 and 2018.

Background

As a long-term solution, it was proposed that community-based youth justice placements that are therapeutic and enable local tikanga to be practised be developed to meet the need for culturally appropriate services.

In Budget 19, Treasury awarded funding for the New Builds programme initiative to establish community-based youth justice placements. The New Builds programme aspires to help young people build lasting connections to whānau, hapū and local community, as well as engage young people in education/training and culturally appropriate services that meet their needs. The long-term aim is to reduce the severity and frequency of re-offending, reduce Māori disparities, and improve wellbeing.

How they operate

Community-based remand homes intend to support the needs of rangatahi / young people remanded into youth justice custodial care for up to six weeks, by providing a safe, nurturing environment close to whānau and the community. Oranga Tamariki is focused on developing culturally appropriate environments for rangatahi, based on tikanga Māori, but also tailored to Pasifika. Peau Folau is an example of a remand home working towards operating within both Māori and Pacific frameworks, drawing on core elements common to all Pasifika ethnicities: family, language, tapu (spirituality) and Va (relational space).

During 2021-2022, there were 16 such homes operating across the motu, with operational data showing 551 admissions of rangatahi, who were cared for on remand (480), bail (60) or under Supervision with Activity (11) orders during those 12 months. 

The majority of young people placed in these homes for remand or bail purposes are aged 15-16 (73%), with males accounting for 90% of remand/bail entries in the 2022 financial year. Rangatahi Māori on remand/bail are over-represented in the homes, with 2022 figures showing that 75% identified as Māori, with NZ European the next largest ethnic group at 11%. The average number of days per stay was 15, but a small proportion (8%) stayed for over 50 days.

The evaluation

Kaupapa Māori methodology guided the evaluation by drawing on ngā ura (values), tikanga (practices), te reo Māori and Māori practice models.

Success case study was the primary method of data collection, with complementary document and administrative data review. Between September and December 2021 the evaluation team interviewed 41 people face-to-face or by Zoom from four remand homes with diverse approaches and offering unique opportunities and experiences for young people. The remand homes are:

  • Mahuru Youth Services, Kaikohe – operated by Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services (NISS), delivers programmes, offers advice and support embedded in mātauranga-a-Ngāpuhi.
  • Aufua le Taeao, Auckland – operated by Emerge Aotearoa (EA), a national charitable trust with a long history of providing health and social services throughout Aotearoa.
  • Will Street, Dunedin – initially established in 2017 and operated by Oranga Tamariki. Since 2017 it has undergone a few changes, including a recent reset of practices, policies, and staffing.
  • Whare Tuhua, Tauranga – operated by Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust, a kaupapa Māori-based organisation committed to weaving whānau and the wider community together.

Key findings

Remand homes are working well to meet the needs of rangatahi and their whānau, encouraging rangatahi to look positively towards their future and pursue their dreams. Within these whanau-centric environments, rangatahi are supported to consider their previous actions and make positive changes.

The way current remand homes operate is significantly different to ‘traditional’ state care where adults typically hold power over rangatahi. The degree to which the remand homes are steeped in te ao Māori varies among the whare. In cases where homes practice as explicitly Māori, we are seeing strengthened connection to self, whānau and community for rangatahi. An exemplar remand home which is achieving such outcomes is Mahuru, delivered by Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services.  

The evaluation recommends that Oranga Tamariki further explore procurement, contracting and support processes to transition all remand homes towards culturally appropriate community-based youth justice placements that are therapeutic and enable local tikanga to be practised.

Next steps

We will work to address the evaluation report’s recommendations. An immediate priority is transitioning operation of Oranga Tamariki-run remand homes to mana whenua or iwi-mandated kaupapa Māori social services.