Hamilton, May 24, 2023
A new hub is open in Hamilton central that will be an all-hours safe place for vulnerable young teenagers to get back on track.
Based on the play, stay, grow concept, the hub, called Kimi Manaakitanga, is a 24 hour drop-in centre to provide services and facilities for at-risk youth aged 12-24. The hub is an initiative of community organisation, Kirikiriroa Family Services Trust, with funding and support from both Council and the police.
Through providing safe accommodation, guidance, entertainment, mentorship and other services for youth, Kimi Manaakitanga hub is the first of 14 Council-supported programmes being rolled out in the city to prevent crime.
To identify these initiatives, Council has been working in collaboration with key agencies to play a positive role and complement the crime prevention work already underway.
It comes after a spate of ram raids in Waikato, the latest of which saw four young people arrested, aged between 14 and 18 last month. The hub includes a music room, art room, gaming room and outdoor basketball court.
Kirikiriroa Family Services Trust chief executive, Dr Nicole Coupe, said a number of youth had stopped attending school and the hub would be a place for them to belong and receive support.
Dr Coupe said, “Within our region a number of our rangatahi post-Covid have not been able to re-engage back in school which has left them quite disenfranchised within our community.”
“We have involved our tamariki and rangatahi in the design of this programme so they have a voice and can govern it as much as possible. We are just there to enable that to occur,” she said.
The kaupapa Māori service is partly funded through Hamilton City Council’s crime prevention initiatives.
Mayor Paula Southgate acknowledged that although the Council is not the primary player in crime prevention, some strong partnerships have been successful in securing Government financial support for opportunities like Kimi Manaakitanga.
Mayor Southgate said, “Crime is first and foremost a police issue, but Council is doing what we can to support a whole-of-community approach to crime prevention. The opening of Kimi Manaakitanga is the first project on our list of matched funding initiatives. I am delighted to see this facility open and begin supporting some of our city’s most vulnerable young people.”
The 14 projects include a range of other initiatives from target hardening, infrastructure such as CCTV and licence plate recognition, through to youth mentoring and support.
“I am determined to continue to work with the police and our other partners as best we can, to develop a safer city for all,” said Mayor Southgate. “We are grateful for Government support and funding to address the important issues being faced by Hamilton Kirikiriroa.”
Police Hamilton City Area Commander, Inspector Andrea McBeth, said the hub would ensure young people could feel safe and had the support they needed. “Our rangatahi will know there is a safe place for them to go anytime of the day or night, if they are facing challenging circumstances, need support or want to connect with their neighbourhoods,” she said.
Friday’s youth hub opening was attended by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, Tumuaki of the Kiingitanga, Hone Thompson, Minister Willow-Jean Prime, Minister Marama Davidson, Tama Potaka Member for Hamilton West, and Te Pāti Māori Co-Leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.
Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.