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Students take the New Zealand Justice System to the stage

Students take the New Zealand Justice System to the stage

Just weeks before Cabinet makes a decision about whether or not to raise the age of youth justice, students from Massey University in Wellington are collaborating with JustSpeak to take the New Zealand criminal justice system to the stage on June 1, 3 and 9.

JustUs is the story of two brothers aged 16 and 17 who commit an offence together. In our current justice system you are classed as an adult from your 17th birthday. This means that while the 16- year-old goes through the youth justice system, his 17-year-old brother goes through the adult District Court. This play looks at what it really means to put a child through the adult criminal justice system, using live theatre, film and authentic verbatim stories. As part of their curriculum, students from the Creativity in the Community paper at Massey’s School of English and Media Studies get to work with a local community group to promote their objectives through expressive arts. This year the chosen community group is JustSpeak.

JustSpeak empowers young people to speak out for change on criminal justice, informed by experience and evidence.

JustSpeak Director Katie Bruce suggests that there is a lack of empathy in the community, which leads to public calls for tougher sentencing without really understanding the root causes.

“New Zealand has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the Western world. Prison is not a solution. We need to counter public disengagement, and theatre is a great way to start,” says Katie Bruce.

Creativity in the Community students hope their production will create more awareness of what young people experience in both the youth and adult New Zealand justice systems, and encourage public engagement on the decision about whether to include 17-year-olds in the youth justice system.

The JustUs production will have three shows only:

June 1, Room 5D14, 12.30pm-1.30pm: Massey University Wellington Campus,
Entry by Koha where all proceeds will go towards Wesley Community Action group.

June 3, Room 5D14, 7.00pm – 8.30pm: Massey University Wellington campus.
Entry is Free.

June 9, Memorial Theatre, 6.30pm – 8.30pm: Whitireia Performance Centre, 25 Vivian Street. Koha for JustSpeak is welcome for the final show, which will be followed by a speaker panel and community forum. Panelists include Dr Nessa Lynch, Victoria University and Professor Chris Gallavin, Massey University.


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