Whānau manaaki plan helps a tāne open up to his whānau

15 June 2021

At a pre-sentencing whānau hui Māori Pathways Case Manager Dean Dawson shared a tāne’s whānau manaaki plan with his whānau, and it became one of the most emotional hui he had ever been to.

“The tāne teared up having his whānau hear what he needed help with. He had never talked to them about his issues before and I think it was a relief for him,” says Dean.

The whānau manaaki plan was then included as part of the man’s Provision of Advice to Courts (PAC) report that provides information to the Court to help inform the judge’s decision. At the tāne’s sentencing hearing this month he received a community sentence of two years intensive supervision, and will be managed in the community with his whānau and Māori Pathways staff helping him work towards his goals for wellbeing.

Whānau manaaki plans are a tool at the heart of the Māori Pathways in Hawke’s Bay.  While men work with a case manager to develop them, self-determination is an integral part of the process.

“It showed the power and value of a whānau manaaki plan,” says Dean.

“This is a man who is very much loved by his whanau, but a few years ago, he developed significant issues around drug abuse and anger.

“In his whānau manaaki plan, he acknowledged those issues and what he needed to do to resolve them. At our hui, his whānau were able to talk about what they could do to support him.”

Māori Pathways Probation Officer Kristy-May Ropitini-Joe is overwhelmed by the result.

“The judge said in Court that it is the longest intensive supervision sentence he has handed down in his entire career. He said that the cultural report, that was submitted with the PAC, broadened his thinking.

“He acknowledged the whanau support and invited them to speak, and they asked me to speak, which in itself was a privilege. I was very nervous though.”

Kristy-May is one of four Probation Officers working with men on Māori Pathways.  The tāne who was sentenced this week, was the first she had done a pre-sentence report for in her new role.

She is full of praise for the new way of working that is the Māori Pathways approach.

“Meeting with the whānau, and the whānau manaaki plan made doing the PAC report so much easier.  It opened up a lot of different conversations earlier, and I can see how it increased his intrinsic motivation. I can see he really wants to heal, and that is strengthened by the way we were able to walk alongside his whānau.”

Both Dean and Kristy-May are excited by the difference that working together achieved and have ideas on how they can be even more effective.

For Kristy-May, that started the day after the man was sentenced. Instead of giving the tāne 72 hours to report-in to her, she arranged a whānau home visit the following day.

“Normally, I would just meet with the man by himself. But this is a whānau-centred approach and the whānau want and need to be involved. They need to have a clear understanding of his conditions and the consequences of breaching them. They need to know how they can support him as much as possible, and what they can do if they are worried about him.

“I can’t wait to be able to use all the channels that Māori Pathways encourages us to use.  I have already made contact with the Ministry of Social Development people. It is such a positive change in the way we are able to help men become positive members of the community.”