Kaupapa Māori approaches to youth offending

Published: December 12, 2019

Information about kaupapa Māori approaches that could inform the Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice work programme.


A small scale, exploratory piece of research was undertaken to inform the Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice Operational programme of work. This involved reviewing kaupapa Māori approaches that can support tamariki and rangatahi Māori in the youth justice system.

The Evidence Centre undertook an environmental scan of information about kaupapa Māori approaches used in the areas of conduct problems; reducing re-offending; remand; rehabilitation; mental health and substance abuse.

Key findings

The paper provides an overview of 22 kaupapa Māori approaches and four approaches adapted to include te ao Māori (the Māori world) perspectives.

The findings indicate that key considerations that promote a kaupapa Māori approach in the development of services are:

  • the holistic nature of the service
  • seeing the young person as part of a wider whānau
  • connecting them to their culture.

Rangatahi Māori are significantly overrepresented in the Youth Justice system. Oranga Tamariki has responsibilities under section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 to ensure its policies and practices aim to reduce disparities and improve outcomes for tamariki and rangatahi Māori who come to the attention of the Ministry.  

The paper provides informative insights for the Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice work programme, which is currently undertaking the design and implementation of evidence-based Youth Justice intervention services.