Te Pae Oranga Iwi Community Panels

Te Pae Oranga Iwi Community Panels are a way that Police and iwi/Māori partners deal with crime and prevent reoffending.

It’s an approach that holds offenders accountable while also helping them address problems they’re facing.

Te Pae Oranga is mainly for people who have underlying issues and need help to get their lives back on track. This includes helping them overcome problems like addiction, abuse, financial stress and difficulties getting employment or education.

It’s available to people of all ethnicities, from all walks of life. Victims are encouraged to take part too.

How it works

Te Pae Oranga means to talk, listen and become well. It uses tikanga and kaupapa Māori and restorative justice practices.

A key feature is the panels of local community leaders who have valuable knowledge and experience. They support participants (people who’ve offended) to make a plan to put things right. Those plans include actions that participants must complete and conditions they must follow.

As well as looking at what happened when someone offended, Te Pae Oranga looks at the reasons why, and what’s going on in people’s lives. That way, the panel can connect them to the right kind of services and support.

Steps in the Te Pae Oranga process

When someone commits an offence, Police consider if Te Pae Oranga is a good option.

If someone is eligible, Police refer them to a local service agency that runs the programme.

The participant meets with the Te Pae Oranga panel. If there was a victim, they’re encouraged to take part too. Anyone who attends can bring support people.

The panel helps to make a plan to put things right and help everyone who takes part. The participant’s plan can include actions such as:

  • getting support to quit drugs and alcohol
  • getting a driver licence, a job or training
  • doing an anger management course
  • paying for damage (reparation)
  • hearing how victims were affected and apologising to them.

The provider stays in touch as the participant works through their plan. They tell Police if the person completes it. If they do, Police take no further action. Details about what happened stays on Police records, but note the participant successfully completed Te Pae Oranga.

If someone doesn’t meet the panel or complete their plan, Police consider whether to charge them. If so, they might have to go to court.

How it helps

Te Pae Oranga is good for the people who take part, their whānau, communities and the justice and social sectors.

It acts like a “jump start” to help people make positive changes in their lives.

Te Pae Oranga can be more effective than prosecuting someone, as more serious options can do more harm than good:

  • the person may not get help to deal with problems they’re facing
  • having a criminal conviction can have long-lasting consequences. It makes it difficult for someone to get their life back on track and stay that way.
  • taking cases to court can sometimes be hard on victims.

Te Pae Oranga is a good option for people who make a mistake, find themselves in difficulty or need help to deal with underlying issues.

Te Pae Oranga is not a soft option. Sitting before a panel can be a confronting experience. You have to accept responsibility, be open about your faults and problems, and ask for help from people in your community.

Data shows the approach works. An evaluation published in 2019 showed Te Pae Oranga reduced harm from reoffending by 22 percent.

The history of Te Pae Oranga

Te Pae Oranga began in 2013, when panels were established in the Hutt Valley, Gisborne and Manukau.

They applied a more Māori framework to the community justice panel approach piloted in Christchurch from 2010.

The panels were previously known as Iwi Community Panels or Community Justice Panels, before being gifted the name Te Pae Oranga in 2018.

The initiative is widely supported by Māori leaders across Aotearoa, including the Māori King, Te Arikinui Kingi Tūheitia, who is the programme’s patron.

There are currently panels in 17 locations: Moerewa, Waitematā, Auckland City, Papakura, Māngere, Hamilton, Rotorua, Whakatane, Gisborne, Hastings, Taranaki, Masterton, Lower Hutt, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.