Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Oranga Tamariki Faces More Backlash As South Auckland 'youth Prison' Bid Gathers Steam

A proposed "youth prison" has drawn further backlash, with residents rubbishing the government's latest attempt to test the suburban detention centre's impact on the community.

Oranga Tamariki's Whakatakapokai site in Weymouth, South Auckland. Photo: Google Maps

Their ongoing displeasure follows claims a child escaped from the south Auckland child care and protection facility, Whakatakapokai, late last year, scaling the facility's fence into a neighbour's backyard.

The 20-bed residence, which opened in 2006, currently caters for children who are deemed high-risk due to their living situation or the threat they pose to themselves or others.

Oranga Tamariki wants to expand the Weymouth facility's operations to include youth justice services in addition to care and protection for 10- to 17-year-olds.

The youth justice arm will house young people awaiting youth court appearances or settlement of a case, placed under supervision by the court, remanded under adult jurisdiction or who are too young or vulnerable to be sent to prison.

The Environment Court in August threw out a social impact assessment (SIA) completed for the government department, criticising the work as unsatisfactory.

The updated SIA found there would be low negative impacts on neighbours' and locals' way of life.

It also found "very low negative" impacts on personal and property rights.

But Weymouth Residents Association chairman Dene Andre, one of a number of locals to speak out against the expansion, remained unhappy with the work.

"It didn't even assess an adequate number of people in our community to find out the facts," he said.

"When you don't investigate issues, of course you're not going to find problems, you're not going to find concerns."

He claimed that less than a month after the court's interim decision, a resident from Whakatakapokai was found in a neighbour's backyard.

Whakatakapokai neighbour Amber Brown previously said the child trespassing on her property was one of a string of incidents.

She was concerned about how the centre was being run.

"We had a child lose the plot and pick up a barbecue and throw it. We've had a mother jump our fence to get into the place," Brown said.

"We're not happy."

Oranga Tamariki said Brown had been assured "everything possible would be done to minimise the likelihood a young person would climb her fence in the future".

Andre, who believed the proposal would effectively create a youth prison, said Oranga Tamariki should be expanding its facility in Wiri instead as it was not in a residential area.

Whakatakapokai would become the fourth correctional facility within a four kilometre radius, with Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility, youth justice facility Korowai Manaaki and Auckland South Corrections Facility nearby.

The site was next door to the Crown's recent "flagship" community housing development and locals, according to Andre, fear the impact of potential escapees.

An Oranga Tamariki spokesman said he could not respond to Andre's concerns, given the matter remained before the court ahead of a hearing in early March.

As it stands, there are five facilities similar to Whakatakapokai throughout New Zealand.

In October 2018, Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft hit out at the facilities, calling them "relics of the past", saying they should be shut down within a year.

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Addiction To Chinese Student Fees

Last week, Australian PM Scott Morrison extended its ban on foreign visitors from or passing through from mainland China – including Chinese students - for a third week. New Zealand has dutifully followed suit, with our travel ban ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Coronavirus, And The Iowa Debacle

As Bloomberg says, the coronavirus shutdown is creating the world’s biggest work-from-home experiment. On the upside, the mortality rate with the current outbreak is lower than with SARS in 2003, but (for a number of reasons) the economic impact this time ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Dodging A Bullet Over The Transport Cost Over-Runs

As New Zealand gears up to begin its $6.8 billion programme of large scale roading projects all around the country, we should be aware of this morning’s sobering headlines from New South Wales, where the cost overruns on major transport projects ... More>>

Gordon Campbell:On Kobemania, Palestine And The Infrastructure Package

Quick quiz to end the week. What deserves the more attention – the death of a US basketball legend, or the end of Palestinian hopes for an independent state? Both died this week, but only one was met with almost total indifference by the global community. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Double Standard That’s Bound To Dominate The Election

Are National really better political managers than Labour, particularly when it comes to running the economy? For many voters – and the business community in particular - their belief in National’s inherent competence is a simple act of faith. More>>

Gordon Campbell : On Dealing With Impeccable, Impeachable Lies

By now, the end game the Republican Senate majority has in mind in their setting of the rules for the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump is pretty clear to everyone: first deny the Democrats the ability to call witnesses and offer evidence, and then derisively dismiss the charges for lack of evidence. For his part, does former security adviser John Bolton really, really want to testify against his former boss? If there was any competing faction within the Republican Party, there might be some point for Bolton in doing so – but there isn’t. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why The Dice Are Loaded Against Women..

If they enter public life, women can expect a type of intense (and contradictory) scrutiny that is rarely applied to their male counterparts... More>>