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Dramatic drop in car crime

In a positive turn of events, police are reporting that the region’s vehicle crime incidents have recently dropped by half, partly due to placing youth offenders in a 12-week mentoring program.

The Times-Age recently reported on a noticeable increase in vehicle crime in Wairarapa this year, with 62 vehicles in July either stolen or broken into.

The latest statistics show that only 30 cases of vehicle-related crime were reported to police in the past six weeks.

Masterton had the highest number of incidents at 22, with Carterton and Martinborough both reporting four.

Residents in Greytown and Featherston can now apparently park without fear, with both townships reporting a grand total of zero incidents.

Wairarapa area commander Sergeant Scott Miller said there are several reasons for the drop in offending, which represents a 50 per cent decrease.

“We’ve done a lot of work around our identified youth in that space, and vehicle crime has dropped off dramatically in the past two months,” Miller said.

This work involved identifying some high-risk youth offenders and placing them in a local mentorship and support programme run by Kaitiaki Services.

Miller said he was able to organise the programme to run locally by applying for the Children’s Flexi Fund, a branch of government funding that police are able to access.

He noted those behind vehicle crimes are often young and repeat offenders, so proactively addressing the issue means looking at what they need. 

“It’s basically about getting young people back into a form of education, giving them a purpose and life experience. Things that they don’t get at home or in their current environment,” Miller said.

“You could say the ones who were successful in those programmes haven’t come to our attention recently.”

Youth mentor Willy Hammond ran the pilot programme in Wairarapa and said it focused on Te Whare Tapa Whā [cornerstones of Māori health and wellbeing].

“First four weeks, we focus on tinana, which is physical wellbeing. Then hinengaro, which is emotional and mental wellbeing aspects, with group discussions,” Hammond said.

“Then we look at whānau, through doing our pepeha [a form of introduction that establishes identity and heritage] and whānau structure.

“Part of that is gathering kai and being able to provide food for the whānau on graduation day, including crayfish, paua, and kina.”

The five students who completed the course were aged between 12 and 16 years old.

The programme has a significant focus on group discussions, and Hammond said these serve as a place where those participating can open up about any issues.

“It’s a place to talk and release that instead of holding it in and letting it all build up.”

Hammond also noted the practical nature of the participants’ learning, as opposed to traditional theory-based education that hasn’t previously engaged the students.

“The good thing about this programme is it doesn’t set the kids up to fail,” he said.

“These kids, they don’t like bookwork. We only spend 30 minutes in the morning doing our bookwork, then the rest is all hands-on.”

Since graduating, two of the students are now engaged in work, Hammond said, and the three younger students are being provided with ongoing support so they can see what type of work could be on the table in the future.

“We’re looking at taking them to worksites, so they can actually see what jobs are out there and they know within themselves if they can do that,” he said.

“If they read it on paper, they’re not quite sure, or they don’t have the confidence to actually apply for those sorts of roles.”

When it comes to why youth offend and take part in crime, Hammond said it often reflects boredom or an at-risk home environment.

“For one young fella, he had nothing to do. He was stealing cars on the daily, and now he’s actually engaged in something that he loves,” Hammond said.

“For some, money’s the issue. There’s not enough money in the house, and they’re not getting what other kids get.” identifying some high-risk youth offenders and placing them in a local mentorship and support programme run by Kaitiaki Services.

Miller said he was able to organise the programme to run locally by applying for the Children’s Flexi Fund, a branch of government funding that police are able to access.

He noted those behind vehicle crimes are often young and repeat offenders, so proactively addressing the issue means looking at what they need.

“It’s basically about getting young people back into a form of education, giving them a purpose and life experience. Things that they don’t get at home or in their current environment,” Miller said.

“You could say the ones who were successful in those programmes haven’t come to our attention recently.”

Youth mentor Willy Hammond ran the pilot programme in Wairarapa and said it focused on Te Whare Tapa Whā [cornerstones of Māori health and wellbeing].

“First four weeks, we focus on tinana, which is physical wellbeing. Then hinengaro, which is emotional and mental wellbeing aspects, with group discussions,” Hammond said.

“Then we look at whānau, through doing our pepeha [a form of introduction that establishes identity and heritage] and whānau structure.

“Part of that is gathering kai and being able to provide food for the whānau on graduation day, including crayfish, paua, and kina.”

The five students who completed the course were aged between 12 and 16 years old.

The programme has a significant focus on group discussions, and Hammond said these serve as a place where those participating can open up about any issues.

“It’s a place to talk and release that instead of holding it in and letting it all build up.”

Hammond also noted the practical nature of the participants’ learning, as opposed to traditional theory-based education that hasn’t previously engaged the students.

“The good thing about this programme is it doesn’t set the kids up to fail,” he said.

“These kids, they don’t like bookwork. We only spend 30 minutes in the morning doing our bookwork, then the rest is all hands-on.”

Since graduating, two of the students are now engaged in work, Hammond said, and the three younger students are being provided with ongoing support so they can see what type of work could be on the table in the future.

“We’re looking at taking them to worksites, so they can actually see what jobs are out there and they know within themselves if they can do that,” he said.

“If they read it on paper, they’re not quite sure, or they don’t have the confidence to actually apply for those sorts of roles.”

When it comes to why youth offend and take part in crime, Hammond said it often reflects boredom or an at-risk home environment.

“For one young fella, he had nothing to do. He was stealing cars on the daily, and now he’s actually engaged in something that he loves,” Hammond said.

“For some, money’s the issue. There’s not enough money in the house, and they’re not getting what other kids get.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Are we talking about parents failing their children 🤔. The education system is not fit for purpose 🤔. Why has society changed so much 🤔. Must be the government policy has changed direction instead of creating a great 👍 society they have created a bad 👎 society. Please can we get 🙏 this great country working as one and stop ✋ the destruction of democracy, divided we fail united we win 🏆.

Comments are closed.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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