The Pasifika court is designed to help young Maori and Pacific Islanders to engage in the youth justice process.
The court works within the Youth Court legal structure and the same laws and consequences apply as they would in the New Zealand Youth Court.
A typical Pasifika Court hearing involves consultation between the judge and elders to discuss how each young person is progressing with their plan.
Each case starts and ends with a prayer and an elder from the same cultural background as the young person will talk to the accused and their family, offering encouragement and guidance.
Nine (9) News Australia says the Kiwi model emphasises a child-centered and culturally-informed system that focuses on family group conferencing, particularly in Maori and Pacific Island communities.
The Pasifika Youth Court has been in place for six years and is aimed at young offenders from independent island countries such as the Cook Islands, Tonga and Samoa.
Co-commissioners Mick Gooda and Margaret White toured New Zealand this week to research alternative approaches to youth protection and detention.
The examination statement said the room was decorated with island artworks and floral cloth, the floor is covered with a 'tapa' - a traditional mat that now bears the signatures of children who have completed their plan successfully.
During a visit from members of the New Zealand Pasifika Youth Court to the Cook Islands late last year, Manukau District and Pasifika Youth district Judge Ida Malosi said young offenders often listened to their elders in court. She said there was a Pacific mentality of respecting and valuing elders.
“In New Zealand, this model has been a good experience for me; elders play a huge part in the court, it is easily implemented in the Pacific, and they make a difference.”
She said elders might say harsh words, but those words often hit the offender’s mind and heart to change. Elders encouraged young offenders to pursue something better in life and offenders often worked hard towards doing that.
She said an elder frequently recognised an offender’s “soft spot” and knew the words that needed to be spoken to them and the most suitable penalities .
Judge Malosi runs the only two Pasifika courts in Auckland, which are held in Pasifika churches or community centres and follow Pasifika cultural processes.
New Zealand has 249 specialist police youth officers who work with low level youth offenders and provide diversionary options for police and the courts, which has led to the decriminalisation of thousands of children.
The Royal Commission is now reviewing best-practice models in other jurisdictions as it prepares to release an interim report on March 31 and its final report on August 1. - LL
PM guest speaker at NZ economic summit
Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna will be a guest speaker at the Taniwha Dragon Economic Summit to be hosted by New Zealand’s Ngati Kahungunu Iwi in Hastings next week.
The high profile event will be co-hosted by Chairman Chan of Lei Garden, a chain of 26 restaurants. He plans to procure Hawke's Bay produce for a planned chain of 200 to 300 bistro restaurants in Asia.
The summit, which will also be attended by Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao, aims to highlight successful relationships with Asia, while also providing an opportunity for new relationships to be formed.
The format will be a café type conference “conversation” with 250 people, including some of New Zealand’s top businesspeople.
“We will be bringing together Maori, Hawkes Bay businesses and their Chinese partners to discuss growing relationships, confidence in the markets and the social spin offs that accrue through these evolving partnerships,” a spokesman for the organisers said.
The meeting will be held from Sunday to Monday of next week (CI time) and will showcase Chinese, Maori, New Zealand and Pacific relationships across a wide variety of business arrangements and joint ventures. This would give confidence to Maori organisations to do more business with Asia, the spokesman said.
“We have a list of high profile, highly innovative speakers who will be able to share and inspire across the various sector groups including businesspeople from Shanghai Cred, Shanghai Pengxin and the Hansen group.”
Keynote speakers on day one include Trade minister Todd McClay and Tina Porou of Contact Energy. New Zealand prime minister Bill English will join the gathering in the evening, speaking at a dinner at a local winery.
The dinner will also be attended by former deputy prime minister, former Commonwealth Secretary General and chairman of the New Zealand-China Council, Sir Don McKinnon.
On day two, there will be another keynote speech by a New Zealand politician: Simon Bridges, the Economic Development minister. Puna will deliver his address mid-morning. He is expected to make a rapid return to Rarotonga to host an expected visit from New Zealand Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully.
The East Coast Bays MP is about to retire from politics, and is visiting the Cook Islands to inspect several projects that have involved New Zealand aid.
A spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister said more details of the McCully visit would be known soon.