Hapu¯ ‘takes ownership’ of youth after series of crimes
Projects organised to keep young people busy, teach them new skills
"We’ve got to tidy up our own backyard before we can talk to other people about their kids." Hapu¯ member Steve Tau
ANorthland hapu¯ rocked by a series of high-profile crimes is stepping up and taking responsibility for its youth and the area.
The bashing of an 82-year-old Kerikeri man in September by hitchhikers who stole his car, and the armed robbery of Waipapa Superette last month both involved young men from Rahiri Settlement, off State Highway 1 near Okaihau, and Nga¯ti Toro hapu¯.
The incidents have prompted hapu¯ members to pull together and organise a series of projects to keep their young people occupied and teach them new skills.
Their first project was a cleanup of a popular picnic and swimming spot called Forest Pools, where the ground had been churned up by hoons, the grass was overgrown and strewn with bottles, and someone had dumped a car and set it alight.
More than 20 hapu¯ members, plus a local farmer, turned out yesterday to remove the wreck, mow the grass, collect litter and cut weeds.
Nichole Tau, 22, wanted to prove it was possible to come together as a community and get things done.
“We’re trying to show youth you don’t need to go in to a dairy and steal . . . you can use your hands in other ways, and make our area look beautiful.”
Hapu¯ member Steve Tau said yesterday’s clean-up would be part of an ongoing effort to look after the well-used swimming spot.
The next steps would include levelling the picnic area to make it suitable for a ride-on mower, erecting bollards to “stop idiots doing wheelies on the grass”, installing concrete picnic tables, and replacing a muddy path to the river with steps.
It was easy to sit around and criticise the Department of Conservation or other people for not doing the job, but the hapu¯ was taking ownership and doing it themselves.
“The motivation is to keep the young generation together and get them into some mahi. This is only a stepping stone to getting them into work,” Tau said.
“We’ve got to tidy up our own backyard before we can talk to other people about their kids.”
Tau said older wha¯nau members were getting the project started but the intention was to hand it over to the younger generation.
Mita Harris, another hapu¯ member, said those involved in the project hoped to lead by example.
“A few of us came together after a series of crimes and said, ‘ We need to do something or this is going to get worse’. We formed a Nga¯ti Toro Tribal Committee, threw some ideas around, now we’re standing up and taking ownership of these kids and their actions. We want a brighter future for our youth.”
Future projects could include training youth in pest control and a bike route linking with the Twin Coast Cycle Trail.
■ The Forest Pools upgrade is an unfunded volunteer effort. Call Steve Tau on 021 082 59298 if you can help by donating materials.
Tani Mane, 17, lends a hand during the Forest Pools clean-up.
Amy Tau, 17, and Mita Harris dig glass out of a bank where a car was dumped and set alight.