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 part of a well-established and diverse network of residential services for rangatahi 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 who are before the Youth Court, or in limited cases the adult courts.

Whakatakapokai was officially opened on 12 Āperira 2021, and received its first placements in Hurae 2021.

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

Whakatakapokai wraps around rangatahi and whaanau

Whakatakapokai focusses on safe, therapeutic, and secure accommodation for rangatahi especially waahine (wāhine) and taane (tāne) with complex needs, for example neurodisabilities or congenital conditions.

Limitations on our service

Whakatakapokai is subject to a range of conditions under the Resource Management Act designation for the site. The kaiwhakahaere (Residence Manager) and Manager of Care Services are responsible for annual reporting that demonstrates the residence is compliant with certain requirements.

The designation for the site can be viewed here:

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

Whakatakapokai Whare
The Whakatakapokai whare.

A unique service

We are delivering on the intention to provide a different kind of service at Whakatakapokai in the following ways:

  • Services for rangatahi and whaanau reflect the kaupapa and tikanga that underpin Whakatakapokai, including culturally appropriate reception and departure processes and a greater level of community and whaanau engagement.
  • Appropriate spaces for whaanau engagement, hui-a-whaanau, Family Group Conferences and Hui Whakapiri.
  • Education and health services incorporate mātauranga Maaori and concepts of hauora, tikanga, kawa, whakapapa and mauri ora.
  • A Tangata Whenua Komiti and kaumaatua support operational planning, strategic planning, and community engagement.
  • Maaori-centred approaches including Whakamana Tangata, a relational way of being developed specifically for youth justice residences.
  • The organisational structure supports collaborative rather than hierarchical decision making that improves access to services for rangatahi.
  • Environmental features include a whaanau 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, kaimahi 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 location within a residential 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 a way for us to better connect with our community. This forum provides opportunities for local residents to be better informed on the activities of the site and to provide comments and feedback to us. These Forum can be different events, like ‘open days’, or other events that the community tell us they would like to hold. The first Neighbourhood Forum event was held in Hanuere 2021.

The Neighbourhood Forum is not ‘membership’ based and is open for all interested residents to be part of. If you wish to receive information about the Neighbourhood Forum a register is held by the Whakatakapokai Youth Justice team. Please contact them directly to be added to the register.

Community Liaison Committee

The Community Liaison Committee is another 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 tāngata from the local community who want to be contacted in the event of an abscondence from the Youth Justice facility. The list is maintained by the kaiwhakahaere.

Contact the residence

The waea 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 email address is monitored during normal office hours.

Feedback and complaints

Members of the community who wish to raise a concern about the operation of the residence are encouraged do so directly with the team, through the Community Liaison Committee or at a Neighbourhood Forum event. However, you may also:

  • Phone the Oranga Tamariki National Contact Centre on (free phone) 0508 326 459 (available 24/7)
  • Log a complaint using our Feedback form online
  • Write to us at Oranga Tamariki National Office, PO Box 546, Wellington.

There are distinct internal processes that apply to complaints made by tamariki and rangatahi admitted to Whakatakapokai and their whānau as well as other professionals. If you are a rangatahi or whaanau member (or professional) who wants to make a complaint about your care or the care of someone else you should have already received information about this process. If you have not received this information please contact the Whakatakapokai team directly at enquiries_WTPYJ@ot.govt.nz.  


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

Whakatakapokai grounds
The Whakatakapokai grounds.

Published: November 14, 2023