By kelly makiha
In the most recent of several similar incidents in New Zealand, nine youths scaled the roof of the Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice Facility on the edge of Rotorua.
Kelvin Davis, Minister of Children’s Affairs, has called the incident “unacceptable” and similar incidents.
Oranga Tamariki – the Ministry for Children – said that the incident occurred at Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Facility south of Rotorua just after 2pm Sunday, and it was handled within one hour. No one was injured and none of the young people escaped.
Rotorua Daily Post posed a number of questions to Oranga Tamariki, police and other authorities.
Mike Bush, deputy chief executive for residences and communities at Oranga Tamariki, said that nine youths climbed onto the roof.
The staff deescalated the situation within one hour.
Bush stated that the situation was contained and no young person left the premises of the facility.
In a statement, the organization said that youth justice residences can be “challenging operating environments”, and it took incidents like this “extremely serious”.
The safety of the rangatahi, staff members and wider public are paramount.
Oranga Tamariki were asked to describe the event, whether anyone was injured, and if the building was damaged. They also had to estimate the cost. The Oranga Tamariki was asked to provide details of the incident, including if any injuries occurred and if damage was done to the facility. They were also asked what was going on in terms of an investigation.
All of these questions have not been answered.
In response to Rotorua daily Post‘s request for further information, Bush responded in an updated press release that the damages were repaired the very same day and it was now safe to use the house. Bush did not reveal what damage had been done.
Bush added that police were called, but Te Maioha o Parekarangi staff resolved the issue. The response did not indicate if charges had been laid.
Oranga Tamariki was contacted by police to determine if charges had been laid. The police did not reply to any further inquiries for an answer.
In recent months, news reports have reported incidents in South Auckland and Christchurch where young people were rioting in youth facilities.
Oranga Tamariki, the staff of a South Auckland juvenile justice centre, Korowai Manaaki in July managed to get five young people down after a 30 hour standoff , with promises from KFC and McDonald’s.
NZ Herald published a report at the time that a group of young people escaped from squat and made it to the rooftop in protest. According to reports, the group made “a series of demands”.
A group of young people protested the week before on Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo’s roof, a facility for youth justice near Christchurch. They made a series of demands including being allowed to contact their girlfriends. After the protest, they were given KFC.
Davis, following the Auckland incident, called for solutions to youths’ roof access.
He said, “While it is important to keep in mind that these are not adults, the behaviour of these youths was unacceptable and could not be tolerated. There will be consequences.”
Oranga Tamariki must immediately find solutions to roof access issues. I will expect them to act quickly.
The Rotorua Daily Post questioned Davis about the Rotorua event and whether Oranga Tamariki responded to Davis’ request.
Davis called any such incident “inacceptable”
In this instance, I am pleased that the staff and the youth were not injured.
Davis stated that Bush was leading an assessment of all homes and would be reporting any necessary changes. He said that a lot of quick-fixes were also being done, including reducing roof access points.
As in the case of this incident, “I expect that incidents like these should be avoided whenever possible. But if they happen, I would want them handled safely and professionally.”
In 2021 at Rotorua, at least 14 young people were involved in an extensive riot during which they destroyed the facility. Some of them also escaped.
Oranga Tamariki told the Rotorua daily Post that the 14 young people who tried to flee the scene of the riot shortly before midnight, on the 6th November. The weapons used by nine of the youths included shanks, mops, and shovels.
Some areas had to be temporarily closed while they repaired the damage, and youths transported elsewhere.
The police confirmed that the young men managed to escape a secured area. They climbed onto a roof, and then tried to get into the “control hub”, so they could leave the facility.
The Bay of Plenty Police were contacted to control the disturbance. The riot was not violent.
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