A place to go and a friendly face away from the pressures that lead to crime

A place to go and a friendly face away from the pressures that lead to crime

A place to go and a friendly face away from the pressures that lead to crime

Jo  Lines-MacKenzie

Jo Lines-MacKenzie

May 19, 2023

Zarian Growe-Lolesi and Kade MacKiewhanga helped design the new fence for Kimi Manaakitanga youth hub.

There’s basketball, a zen room and pool tables, but with the addition of a listening ear from youth workers it’s hoped a new Hamilton Youth Hub will help keep teens “away from the bad track” of ramraids and other trouble.

Kimi Manaakitanga is expected to cost close to $1m, including for the specialist youth-oriented team, and is partly funded through Hamilton City Council and Government funding.

It’s the brainchild of Kirikiriroa Family Services Trust (KFST) and rangatahi helped develop the centre, which it’s hoped will help stop antisocial behaviour and vulnerable children being pushed into committing crimes such as ramraids.

Chief executive Dr Nicole Coupe said some kids didn’t return to school after Covid “and they’ve got little to nothing to do in Hamilton apart from sleep during the day and be up and about during the night with the mates they’ve found that have done exactly the same thing.”

So the youth centre had been a hard-fought dream for the trust over the past five years, and she hopes it’ll fill a “massive gap” in the trust’s services.

“There was a lot for young people under 5 years old, there were plenty of opportunities for complex kids, stuff for housing, but there wasn’t anything for our youth.”

For example, young people might be labelled mild to moderate but be slipping out of school, or anxious about going to school.

The hub has been a long-term dream for the Kirikiriroa Family Support Trust, chief executive Dr Nicole Coupe said.

Teenagers helped design the hub, which has a music room, art room, media and gaming room and a zen room, along with an outdoor basketball court featuring a fenceline decorated with graffiti art by the rangatahi.

Zarian Growe-Lolesi, 16, wants to be a tattoo artist or a super rugby player, and helped with the graffiti art on Kimi Manaakitanga’s outside wall.

”I hadn’t picked up a paint can before, and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.”

Coupe said letting youths lead the direction of the facility helped give them energy and motivation to try something different.