The youth justice residence at Whakatakapokai has been designed from a Maaori centred approach to deliver unique services within the Youth Justice residential network.


Transcript: Opening of Whakatakapokai youth justice residence.

Singing, Karanga.

Incantations from Waikato-Tainui.

(Martin Cooper | Waikato-Tainui)

So we carried out a series of incantations. A series of karakia, we call karakia waerea, which is the clearing process, to clear out the place. And provide protection over the area, as well as staff.

Incantations from Waikato-Tainui.

(Whaea Pare Ruawhero | Te Atitai Waiohua)

Back in the old days the matua whāngai used to be based here. And they were connected to the Puao te Ata tu back in those days. So I’ve learned from them, and coming forward, I was a young one then.

But today I’m here and I’ve been part of the design, I’ve been part of the kōrero, I’ve been part of – just sitting and learning as I went, as I go, as well.

(Ngaire Lyal | Kaiwhakahaere at Whakatakapokai)

It’s a much smaller residence, so we’ve got fifteen beds here. The design of the units we’ve done in conjunction with mana whenua.

So it does have a more homely or less institutionalised look. Our hope, given that we are a smaller facility is that our kaihami can do some really close and intensive support work with our rangatahi and really get to the heart of what’s really contributing to their offending.

(Anahera Pera | Kaimahi at Whakatakapokai)

We’re hoping to rehabilitate our rangatahi through whakamana tanagata, which is a process where we look at supporting healing through trauma-informed practice, discovering identity through whakapapa, giving rangatahi a place to stand, while operating under te ao Māori customs.
For our rangatahi we can’t choose or create the future that hey have, but we hope that when they leave the residence with us, that they are more informed and skilled to make positive decisions for their future.



About the residence

Whakatakapokai is situated on whenua sacred to Waikato-Tainui and the service has been co-designed in partnership with Tangata whenua. Whakatakapokai is committed to the inclusion of mana whenua in service decisions and to upholding the tikanga and kawa of Waikato-Tainui.

Whakatakapokai is joining a well-established and diverse network of residential services for young people in youth justice and offers a different approach for rangatahi and whaanau. Located in Weymouth, the team provides care and support for up to 15 rangatahi remanded or sentenced by the Youth Court, or in limited cases the adult courts. 

Whakatakapokai was officially opened on 12 April 2021 and received our first placements in July 2021.

Care Services continue to be offered from a different facility on the same site.

Whakatakapokai wraps around young people and whaanau

Whakatakapokai focusses on safe, therapeutic, and secure accommodation for rangatahi especially wahine and tane with complex needs, for example neurodisabilities or congenital conditions.

Limitations on our service

Whakatakapokai is subject to a range of conditions. The Kaiwhakahaere (Residence Manager) is responsible for annual reporting that demonstrates the residence is compliant. Failure to meet these conditions can result in our designation being withdrawn.

The decision of the environment court and related conditions can be read here:

3800 Care and Protection Centre - Upper North Whakatakapokai Conditions (aucklandcouncil.govt.nz)

Whakatakapokai Whare
The Whakatakapokai whare.

A unique service

The decision of the environment court sets out the intention of the service to be provided at Whakatakapokai. We are delivering on this in some of the following ways:

  • Services for rangatahi and whaanau that reflect the kaupapa and tikanga that underpins Whakatakapokai, including culturally appropriate reception and departure processes.
  • Spaces for whaanau engagement, hui-aa-whaanau, Family Group Conferences and Hui Whakapiri.
  • Education and health services that incorporate Matauranga Maaori and concepts of hauora, tikanga, kawa, whakapapa and mauri ora.
  • A Tangata Whenua Komiti, kaumatua, and kuia supporting operational planning, strategic planning, and community engagement.
  • Maaori-centred approaches including a Whakamana Tangata way of being developed specifically for youth justice.
  • The organisational structure supports collaborative rather than hierarchical decision making that improves access to services for rangatahi.
  • Environmental features include a whaanau welcome area, native plantings, maara kai (food gardens) and maara rongoa (medicinal gardens).
  • A bespoke assessment process that acknowledges the importance of relationships. Placement decisions are made in consultation with rangatahi, whaanau, staff and professionals involved in their care.
Whakatakapokai room
An example of a room at the Whakatakapokai residence.

Part of a thriving community

In acknowledgement of our positioning in the area, the Youth Justice team has focused on promoting positive relationships within the local Weymouth and Manurewa community.

There are several mechanisms for the local community to stay connected with the residence activities.

Neighbourhood Forum

The Neighbourhood Forum is like an ‘open day’ with the first forum held in January 2021.

The Neighbourhood Forum is not ‘membership’ based and is open for all interested residents to attend. If you wish to receive information about the Neighbourhood Forum a register is held by the Whakatakapokai Youth Justice team.

Community Liaison Committee

The Community Liaison Committee is a legal mechanism for ensuring community involvement and contribution to the operation of the site. Whakatakapokai is actively operating a Community Liaison Committee established in accordance with the Oranga Tamariki (Residential Care Regulations) 1996. A list of current members is held by the Whakatakapokai Youth Justice team. 

Notification List

The Notification List is a list of people from the local community want to be contacted in the event of an abscondence from the Youth Justice facility. The list is maintained by the Kaiwhakahaere and is updated as changes are made.

Contact the residence

The telephone number and email address for contacting the residence to report any concerns or ask questions:

Telephone: 09 917 5430

Email: enquiries_WTPYJ@ot.govt.nz  

This number is staffed between normal office hours Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. After Hours, this number is redirected to the Communications Room, which is staffed 24/7. The mailbox is monitored during normal office hours.

Note: Waikato-Tainui tikanga and kawa includes the use of double vowels in words instead of macrons.

Whakatakapokai grounds
The Whakatakapokai grounds.

Published: October 13, 2021