New Zealand's Pasifika Youth Court Delegation Visits Cook Islands

Group lauds cultural approach to youth justice

By Losirene Lacanivalu

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Nov. 8, 2016) – A special sitting of the Children’s Court with Manukau District Judge Ida Malosi and her delegation of community elders from the Pasifika Youth Court from Auckland, New Zealand, was held at the Cook Islands High Court recently.

District Court Judge Ida Malosi and her delegation were accompanied by the Minister for Justice Nandi Glassie, Secretary Tingika Elikana and Senior Justice of Peace John Kenning and other justices of the peace and court registrars at a closed court session.

Minister Nandi Glassie acknowledged the visitation from the delegation and said their arrival was welcomed as they got to share ideas, views and work on building stronger relations in the future.

Judge Malosi said the delegation included elders from different Pacific Islands from the NZ Youth Court.

“We decided to visit Cook Islands as part of a retreat to work and see how the court system works here compared to New Zealand,” Malosi said.

Malosi said there are 11 of them and they have seen that the Cook Islands are in good hands with the judiciary system.

“It is our first time here as a team, and we plan to visit other Pacific Islands, but so far all I can say is that elders play a huge part in the court.”

She said young offenders often listen to their elders in court; it has been a Pacific mentality to respect and value their elders.

“In New Zealand, this model has been a good experience for me, elders play a huge part in the court, it is easily implemented in the Pacific, and they make a difference.”

She said elders may say harsh words, but it hits the offender’s mind and heart to change and elders encourage them to pursue something better in life and they work hard towards it.

She added that an elder recognises the soft spot of an offender and they know the words needed to be spoken to them and the penalties needed.

Senior JP John Kenning said the delegation’s visit was in the best interest of the court and they visited in the best traditional way to show support and love.

Meanwhile, Judge Malosi runs the only two Pasifika courts in Auckland, which are held in Pasifika churches or community centres and follow Pasifika cultural processes.

The court is designed to help young Maori and Pacific Islanders to engage in the youth justice process.

The court works within the Youth Court legal structure.

The same laws and consequences apply as they would in the NZ Youth Court.

A typical Pasifika Court hearing involves a consultation between the judge and the elders to discuss how each young person is progressing with their plan.

 Each case starts and ends with a prayer.

An elder that is from the same cultural background as the young person will talk to the young person and their family, offering encouragement and guidance.

Cook Islands News
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