The one-year programme works with people coming through the police Family Harm system, where offending has gone on between men and women, and families.
Patrick says while everyone on the course has an individual programme, the group meet once a week for a day of togetherness.
“Hāpai Huānga is a new initiative being run this year through Rotorua Police as a pilot scheme, but if it works, they’ll run it through other police stations throughout New Zealand. While it’s a lot of pressure, it’s an awesome thing to be involved in, especially because we can develop it through a Māori worldview. Most of the people we’re dealing with are our own, so we have a strong focus on cultural identity.
“We do wānanga-type mahi around whatever is happening at that time of the year, depending on the season. It could be food orientated, rongoa, waka haurua, i.e. sailing vessels and star navigation – anything that gets them in contact with their culture. We visit these places and talk to experts in the field, and the following day we put together a plan.
“There’s a need in our community for a programme like this, where everything is based around whānau because the stats related to family harm are huge. It’s not just about the husbands and wives – it’s about the flow-on affect to the children, their schools, and their educational needs.
Patrick says while the programme has only been going a short period of time, the interaction they’ve already had has been wonderful.
“People are taking the time to care about what’s going on. We’ve been able to utilise the police station cells – and as you can imagine, everyone wants to do anything to get out of the cells. If we can get them out of the cells and on board with us, it’s not long until they buy in to it. You’ll get people not engaging and then suddenly something will click for them. And that’s what we want to see.”