After the Hikoi – Where to from here?
It’s hard to believe that we are over six weeks on from the “Enough is Enough” Hikoi led by Henare O’Keefe. There is no doubt that the Hikoi created a major outpour from the community keen to put a stop to the senseless violence invading our streets. But six weeks on a number of people are starting to ask questions: What was it all for? What has come of it? Where to from here?
Fact of the matter is that the Hikoi indicated that the Flaxmere community were sick and tired of the violence. It was an outcry by a community prepared to consider some change. The problem is that unless there is pretty clear leadership following a rally such as this people who were willing to consider alternatives all too readily slip back into habits learnt over a lifetime.
As a result, a meeting has been called for Wednesday night the 20th of August, 7:00pm, at the Flaxmere Community Marae. The meeting has been called “After the Hikoi – Where to from here?”
The hui has resulted from a number of meetings that Craig Foss and I have held with Henare O’Keefe and police, since the Hikoi. The aim is to assist the community to consider options going forward. I mean it’s all very well to join in a march to say “Enough is Enough” but at the end of the day you actually need to do more than march. The community actually needs to change some things otherwise the words and speeches are just hollow.
Henare O’Keefe understands this loud and clear and he more than anyone wants to change some things. As a result we’ve been working on a plan for the community based around the Marae as the cornerstone. And there are some great ideas already planned to discuss on the 20th.
Like “Kaumatua Rocket Reading”… an initiative aimed at turning Flaxmere kids into some of the Bay’s best readers. This single initiative involves a book drive to establish a library on the Marae, a partnership with local schools, volunteer “Kaumatua” and one-on-one reading with children after school. Another initiative involves working with Police on a reinvigorated “Flaxmere Style” Neighbourhood Watch program where the community gets to know each other in small clusters and begins to look after each other on a more personal level.
The plan is very much a draft at this stage. It tries to put Henare’s vision on paper so that he is in a position to approach various Government and Community organisations to assist him in his mission. These initiatives will be presented at the meeting on the 20th. The aim is to give the community the opportunity to critique and add to these initial proposals. It’s also an opportunity to come up with additional initiatives which can be added to the plan either up front or over time.
There is also a further idea that will be introduced and canvassed on the night. And it’s this idea which I would now like to focus on and which I would value your input.
“Flaxmere Sunday School”
Discussions with Henare, the police, and youth workers indicate that they believe there is a real need for an immediate response or consequence which helps to deal with the rising tide of youth offending. The concern is that the lack of an immediate consequence increases the chance that young ‘experimental’ offenders of today will too easily become the hardened criminals of tomorrow.
There are some solutions available through various legislation, but often the consequences are so far removed from the offence that children have difficulty making a connection between their actions and the consequence. Additional to this, the solutions often don’t lead to change in the child. What is being proposed here is an immediate consequence which seeks to impact in a positive way upon the offender.
The idea is called the “Flaxmere Sunday School” (FSS). Effectively it is a “Flaxmere Community Work Order”, worked at the Community Marae, which can be issued by both Flaxmere Community Police and Flaxmere Principals.
The Flaxmere Sunday School (FSS) would be similar to a speeding ticket with no conviction and no need to go to court.
The FSS is an order to serve a day’s community work or to attend a day’s community programme to be held at the Marae either on a Sunday or during school holidays. The focus would be on returning some value to the community for the offence committed.
The Orders would be issued under the auspices of a Flaxmere Community Board. This would consist of up to six people including a City Council representative, a Police representative, a Flaxmere Principal, plus three community representatives.
Young people in our community can drift into unacceptable behaviour. The FSS work order is designed to give 12 to 16 year olds a short, sharp, shock about their behaviour, without imposing a criminal record, but making sure their unacceptable actions have consequences.
Unacceptable behaviour would be defined by the Community Board, and could include: vandalism, shoplifting, fighting, tagging, truancy, etc. The Board’s role would also be to work closely with the Marae to ensure the “Sunday School” was delivered in a professional manner.
The Board would also decide the basic expectations from the Flaxmere Sunday School. Would the full day’s activity include healthy meals cooked by the attendees? Would it include a period of spiritual activities such as prayer/karakia/song and values? What work would be expected to be completed? What value would be returned to the community? Would there be a degree of challenge? Could some weekends include quite alternative programs like a hard walk to Sunrise Hut at the top of the Ruahines?
Ultimately an initiative such as this may require changes to Legislation to allow it to happen. However we believe it could be trialed in Flaxmere as long as there was total buy-in from parents, schools and police.
The Flaxmere Sunday School could provide a tool for nipping youth offending in the bud. It won’t provide a ‘magic bullet’ solution for those determined to become career criminals, but with some luck it could help turn youth crime experimenters from this path.
But there are a many steps to take before this idea could become a reality. In the first instance it would require community buy-in to the idea. Ultimately it may require a change to legislation.
Firstly though, I would like to seek the opinion of our Hawke’s Bay community. Do you think this is a good idea? Can you see any pitfalls we would need to negotiate?
The fastest and easiest way to respond is to complete this online survey we’ve prepared for you. Feel free to write in your own ideas and comments there as well.
Or, you can simply write to me care of: BayBuzz, PO Box 8322, Havelock North 4157.
Craig, Henare, Wayne Bradshaw and I will receive all responses. We’re interested in what you think about the idea of the “Flaxmere Sunday School.” So please let us hear from you.