Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Opening of Papatuanuku Community Project

Tony Ryall
Minister of Justice
Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand Limited

Speech Notes For:

Opening of Papatuanuku Community Project


10.30am, Wednesday,
9 September, 1999

Mr Tui Adams, Father David Bennett, Superintendent Rickards, friends and supporters of the Papatuanuku Community Project, thank you so much for asking me to be here to celebrate today with you.

I know it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, but crime is coming down in New Zealand.

In 5 to 10 years time I foresee a dramatic fall in crime.

That fall will be largely due to the work that dedicated people, like those here today, are doing to save a generation from a life of crime.

There’s a story I would like to share with you.

The story is of a young man's downward spiral into a life of the most serious adult crime.

It is a story of foster homes, sexual abuse, social welfare care, gangs, and prison sentences.

For the young man involved it ended on July 3 of last year, when he was sentenced to preventive detention with a minimum non-parole period of 22 years.

But the story goes on for his victims.

It is the brutal and tragic story of Malcolm Rewa.

Predator. Convicted serial rapist.

I can’t help wonder what a great deal of suffering and anguish could have been avoided if that young man could have been saved from a life of crime.

The Government has a four point plan to reduce crime in New Zealand:

1. Early Intervention
2. Crime Prevention
3. More Police
4. Tougher Sentences

Our best crime solution is early intervention.

Programmes just like the one we are launching here today.

Early intervention is best for those who need never grow up to be criminals.

And, it is best for those who need never become their victims.

Investing early in families under pressure is our most effective long-term tool for securing their future. It is also our best weapon against crime.

Many of the programmes the Government has put in place look nothing like crime prevention.

But, they are the things that Government can do to help the most.

The Family Start programme has brought together our health, education and social welfare services to help families under pressure get the support they need.

Our free doctors visits for under-6s is going to help identify and treat health problems that may prevent young New Zealanders from learning at school.

That’s important because recent research shows that as many as 40 percent of prison inmates never learned to read.

That's one of the reasons we are so committed to re-focusing education on the basics of reading, writing and maths.

We aim to have every child proficient in reading, writing and mathematics by age nine.

Too many New Zealand children have been falling through the cracks and ending up looking back at society from behind bars.

Working together we will stop that.

Your “Breakfast club” project – to give a healthy breakfast to primary and intermediate age children who need it – will be a great help.

We know that kids can’t learn if they are hungry at school or aren’t well because of a poor diet.

The fifty or so children expected to attend the Breakfast club need not face that prospect.

While I fully support the Breakfast club initiative, I must emphasise that it is the responsibility of every parent to care for their children, and that includes giving them a proper breakfast.

The Breakfast club is based on a very successful project run in Gisborne.

Superintendent Rickards and Sergeant Eden were involved in setting up that club also.

I think the people of the Waikato are very fortunate to have people of the calibre of Clint Rickards and Tania Eden in their community.

Because at the end of the day the most effective programmes to turn communities around are those that come from communities themselves.

That’s why I give all of you here today my total support for what you are doing.

That’s also why I am very pleased Housing New Zealand has accepted the challenge presented by your community and got itself involved in your project.

I want HNZ to continue to support communities who are committed to improving their future.

It is important that HNZ develop its role as a responsible and active member of the communities in which it owns homes.

I am pleased to say that HNZ has been enthusiastic in doing this, and that Papatuanuku is not the only project that HNZ is supporting.

HNZ has provided a number of properties around the country for community projects such as this one.

HNZ is also involved in the successful Strengthening Families initiatives and in a new project in provincial New Zealand called Great Neighbourhoods.

Great Neighbourhoods is a commitment by Housing New Zealand to encourage and support communities in provincial towns who want to rejuvenate and revitalise their communities.

In May this year I was fortunate enough to visit a community rejuvenation project supported by HNZ in the Whangarei suburb of Otangarei.

I had heard a lot of very positive things about this project.

Otangarei is a community of about 500 homes, roughly half of which are owned by HNZ

This was a suburb with serious problems.

There were drag races in the streets, graffiti, property crime, drug crimes and all the sorts of things that get people worried.

Many residents were frustrated, angry and felt no-one cared about their situation.

This small community now stands as a leading example of how caring and committed people, working in their own communities, can make a huge difference to people's lives.

The project includes "broken windows" initiatives to remove rubbish, clean graffiti, beautify walls, improve homes, fence properties, install smoke alarms and renovate disused commercial property.

It also provides a safer physical environment for Otangarei children by altering roads to make streets safer.

This community has, in just 18 months, reduced shop-lifting by 50 percent, reduced burglary and vehicle crime significantly, and seen property values lift substantially.

The project is supported by the Government through the Safer Community Council initiative, through some modest direct funding, and by Housing New Zealand.

But, it is the dedicated people leading the project and Otangarei residents themselves that are its real stars and the key to its success.

You know, what strikes me most about this project is that I don't think there is a single thing going on in Otangarei that would have been thought of by someone in an office in Wellington.

And, I think the key to your success will ultimately be that you decide for yourselves what is best for your community.

I promise you that people from Wellington will support you – but they will not tell you what to do.

This Government does not believe that suits in Wellington, and especially in Parliament, have all the answers.

That is why we will continue to support community crime prevention initiatives.

We believe in local solutions to local issues.

I wish you all the very best with your project.

I know you have taken on huge challenges and commitments.

But, I know that, ultimately, solutions to the problems faced by your community must come from within your community.

Thank you all for accepting that challenge.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Scoop 3.0: How You Can Help Scoop’s Evolution

Entering into its third decade of operation, the Scoop news ecosystem is set to undergo another phase of transformation and evolution.

We have big plans for 2018 as we look to expand our public interest journalism coverage, upgrade our publishing infrastructure and offer even more valuable business tools to commercial users of Scoop. More>>


Foreign Affairs: Patrick Gower Interviews Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says discussions have already begun on how to bring climate change refugees into New Zealand under a Pacific seasonal employment plan... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Centre Right’s Love Of ‘Nanny State’

You’d almost think it was 2005 again. That was a time when the rugged individualists of the centre-right were being beset by government regulations on the nature of light-bulbs, the size of shower heads, the junk food available at school tuck shops and other such essentials... More>>

Speaking Of Transport: Public Engagement On Wellington Scenarios

“Our work on possible solutions for Wellington’s transport future is ongoing, but has progressed to the stage where we’re ready to share our ideas with the public and seek their feedback to help guide our next steps...” More>>


Parental Leave: National's Time-Sharing Change Fails

National has proposed a change to the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill that would allow both parents to take paid parental leave at the same time, if that is what suits them best. More>>


Train Free Thursday: Workers Strike To Defend Terms Of Employment

"They signed up to these conditions a year ago when they got the contract for Wellington's rail services. Now they're trying to increase profits by squeezing frontline workers." More>>


Seclusion: Ombudsman Emphasises Importance Of Monitoring

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero says that while there have been changes to the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 to prohibit the use of seclusion, the report is an important reminder of the importance of regular monitoring of schools. More>>


United Future History: "All Good Things Must End"

'We’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved over the past 15 years, working alongside the government of the day, both National and Labour.' Mr Light told members on Monday. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The TPP Outcome, And The Hobbit Law

Somehow the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal has come lurching back from the dead – and as predicted in this column last week, the member countries gathered in Vietnam have announced a deal in broad principle, shunted aside until a later date the stuff on which they don’t agree, and declared victory. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election