A new era in policing was officially launched in Kaitaia on Monday. And no one was prouder to welcome Whiria te Muka (Weaving the Strands) than district commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou.
"Personally, this initiative is about a commitment I made to a mother following the death of her daughter at the hands of her former partner," he said.
"I promised her we would be better, we would be different, and we would commit to not letting anyone else down.
"As police we talk about turning the tide and being victim-focused. Whiria te Muka is our community response so we see fewer victims of whanau harm and a reduction in harm as a result of whanau violence."
A police spokesman described Whiria te Muka as a new approach that began to help whanau build a pathway of increased wellness. It was a unique, Kaitaia-based solution focused on preventing and reducing the family harm experienced by Te Hiku whanau, hapu, iwi and communities.
Aligned to the Te Hiku Social and Wellbeing Accord, that solution had been co-designed by Te Hiku iwi leaders (Ngati Takoto, Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri and Te Rarawa) and the police over the past two years.
Its single role would be to empower the aspirations of Te Hiku whanau, offering practical solutions and improved delivery of whanau services to support those who were in most need and required immediate support.
"Whiria te Muka is about enabling a space of advocacy and systemic change, cloaked in the narratives of Te Hiku," he said.
Te Hiku iwi spokesman Harry Burkhardt said the new approach symbolised the high degree of trust and collaboration that had developed between the partners as a result of honest and real partnership.
"While it may be a lean start-up, it is an example of social innovation and investment, and a positive beginning," he said.
"These challenges in our whanau are not unique; they are being replicated in every country in the world. But our approach to be the liferaft that keeps them afloat is unique.
The kuaka flock has arisen." (Te kuaka marangaranga, kotahi manu i tau ki te tahuna: tau atu, tau ra. The kuaka flock has arisen. One bird has come to rest on the beach, others will follow).
Superintendent Le Prou said Whiria te Muka is "our community response," so we see fewer victims of whanau harm and a reduction in harm as a result of whanau violence.
The Whiria te Muka team will review family harm incidents reported to the police with other agencies, which will collectively share knowledge, provide cultural intelligence, whakapapa, and employ a whanau approach to be best connected with that whanau.
The first response will be to ensure the immediate safety of whanau, particularly tamariki, the next step a sustainable plan to maintain that safety and support continual behaviour change by addressing the underlying stresses on the whanau.
Whiria te Muka is the third such initiative involving the police, iwi and community working in partnership to address family harm. Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke has been in place in Tairawhiti since February, and in Counties Manukau since April.
The Whiria te Muka team of 10 staff (iwi and police employees) will operate from Te Aupouri House in Kaitaia.