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Anderton: Youth Justice South Opening

Hon Jim Anderton Caretaker - Associate Minister of Health

Opening of Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo, Youth Justice South

3pm 4 October 2005 Runners Road Rolleston Canterbury

Acknowledgements: Theo Marama, Manager of Rolleston Community Centre My Parliamentary Colleague, Ruth Dyson Mayor Michael McEvedy Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becfroft Paula Tyler Shirley Johnson, Site Manager Te Puna Wai

In almost every community in New Zealand there are young people who need more than just a bit of help to stay on track.

There are numerous reasons - emotional or personality difficulties, problems at home, bad behaviour that has become habitual, peer group influences etc

But whatever the reasons are - there are even more reasons why we, as a New Zealand community, should provide that help.

We need to inspire them to change their path and take on a new and more positive challenge.

You will know that that task is, of course, easier said than done.

In every community there is also a range of people who don't want to have these young people living next door - the 'not in my backyard' syndrome.

Sadly, when I became involved in helping sort out a site for those youth who need help in Canterbury, two communities had already raised loud and, in my view, irrational objections to having the centre in their backyard.

It would not be helpful to name those communities here today.

Instead, I'd like to applaud the Rolleston community for having the insight and courage to accept this centre into your area with open arms.

It is often a hard job to bring everyone on board in a project like this.

But providing secure youth justice facilities, that will genuinely offer these youth the opportunity to change their lives, is such an important job that it had to be done.

It took some time to bring people together, to get them the facts and persuade them.

It also took some meeting of minds - as these things often do - but we got there in the end.

The positive support of Mayor McEvedy and his council, and particularly councillor Jens Christiansen who was critical and I pay a special tribute to both men as well as their council colleagues.

Everyone here will know how important it can be to have family and friends accessible when you are trying to get young people to make a positive change in their lives.

This specialised youth justice residence will provide an environment where we can work in a positive and therapeutic way with some of our country's most troubled and vulnerable young people.

For many of the kids who come to youth justice residences it's the last stop and their last chance before adult imprisonment.

Te Puna Wai is a brand-new, purpose-built facility that will play a constructive part in lifting the outlook of these young people, and give them a real opportunity to turn their lives around.

It will also give staff a more positive environment in which to work, one that is more conducive to creating real change in the lives of these young people.

So I congratulate everyone involved in making Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo a reality and wish you all well for the important journey on which you are setting out today.


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