21 Jun 2013

Cook Islands looks to NZ for youth rehabilitation programme

5:18 pm on 21 June 2013

The Cook Islands police commissioner is expecting a scoping team from New Zealand to help establish a youth rehabilitation programme.

It comes as petty crime has soared on Rarotonga.

The Commissioner, Ma'ara Tetava, told Don Wiseman what they want to achieve.

MA'ARA TETAVA: It's kind of a rehabilitation programme. It's similar to what's run in New Zealand now, I think, by the Ministry of Social Welfare, together with Defence, New Zealand Police and New Zealand Blue Light. It's more a leadership development programme [with] I think a bit of bootcamp-style training built into it. It's that programme that we're looking at at the moment to see if we can have not so much the cut-and-paste job, not so much bringing the whole programme here, more trying to see if we can adapt that programme to suit us here in Rarotonga.

DON WISEMAN: So this would work like a diversion programme? Once some child commits some minor misdemeanour they'd go into this, or would you try and get them earlier?

MT: Preferably, we'd like to get them earlier. We've got Blue Light used here already and we're trying to enhance the programme some more. And that is actually targetting the young kids who are not yet in trouble and trying to keep them on track. The programme that I'm looking at at the moment is more addressing those who have gone over the borderline, but can still be worked on to get them back on the right track.

DW: What's the nature of the criminality that's happening?

MT: It's usually petty thieving and burglaries. Those are the main crimes of concern for us at the moment, and we are doing our very best to address that.

DW: It has been getting worse?

MT: Well, it's high. I guess, looking back at stats, it's quite high for this month, really, or for the last six months. And our aim is to cut that right down as quickly as we can, and we're working on that.

DW: So you're talking with people in New Zealand about how they've done it?

MT: Yes, yes. In fact, I'm hoping to get a scoping team down from wellington, hopefully next month or the month after, so we can do some scoping, do some talking, and see what can be done to introduce the programme. The issue that we have here is we don't have much rehabilitation programme here for young juvenile kids. And hopefully this programme will be the first step, with the support of the New Zealand High Commissioner. There's also another programme running at the moment, which we are very supportive of, of directing kids who are in trouble into agriculture. And that is, I'd say, a home-grown Cook Islands programme. It's these kind of programmes that we're looking at that will divert kids into, and hopefully develop them into, better kids and better leaders in the Cook Islands in the future.