Ō tātou mate tūātini, i takoto mai ai i runga i ō tātou marae maha, i runga i ō tātou papa kāinga, i roto i ō tātou whare, kua uhia rātou ki ngā taumata kōrero e tika ana hei poroporoaki i a rātou. Nā reira, me kī pēnei ake te kōrero, tukuna rātou kia okioki i runga i te moenga roa. Āpiti hono, tātai hono, ko te akaaka o te rangi ki a rātou; āpiti hono tātai hono, ko te akaaka o te whenua ki a tātou te hunga ora.
We remember those who have passed on, those who have been mourned, acknowledged, and bid farewell on our many marae and throughout the many districts of our country. Therefore, it is customary to say, release those who have been joined in the long sleep of death, let them remain together, and those of us who remain, let us remain together in the world of the living.
On 30 May 2008, the first Rangatahi Court was convened at Te Poho o Rāwiri Marae in Gisborne. It was a watershed in youth justice in Aotearoa.
Youth Court judges led the initiative to offer rangatahi and their whānau, hapū and iwi a restorative option that integrates tikanga Māori into the court process, in a marae setting.
Scroll forward 10 years to February 2018 and a 15th Rangatahi Court opened at Terenga Paraoa marae in Whangarei. In the intervening years, the concept of Ngā Kōti Rangatahi – Rangatahi Courts has flourished. Māori communities have generously embraced the opportunity to contribute to holding their rangatahi to account, and to guide them in drawing strength from their culture to turn away from a path of crime.
Rangatahi Courts also operate at three marae around the Auckland region and in Hamilton, Huntly, Rotorua, Taupo, Whakatāne,
Tauranga, Gisborne, New Plymouth and Christchurch. Two Pasifika Courts have adapted the model for Pasifika communities in Auckland.
The kaupapa of the court is derived from the traditional whakataukī (proverb):
Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi – the old net is cast aside, the new net goes fishing. In this proverb, “rangatahi” means both “the new net” and also, “the youth”, reflecting the ability of young people to redeem themselves from past behaviours and turn to healthier futures.
“The rule of law will be enhanced if the same law is applied but it speaks in the language of the Māori people it serves and it acts in accordance with their protocols”
A key aim is to connect young offenders to a better sense of who they are and where they are from. In turn, this encourages greater respect for themselves, their heritage, and for others in the community.
Kaumātua and kuia are closely involved in the court’s monitoring of a young person’s Family Group Conference plan to address the rangatahi’s offending. They sit alongside the judge to provide cultural insight and advice to young people and their whānau. While the focus is on young Māori who have offended, the opportunity of referral to the court is open to non-Māori.