Funding for at-risk Auckland youth

SIMON DAY
Last updated 17:16 12/08/2014

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The Government has announced a $200,000 investment towards preventing anti-social behaviour in West Auckland young people.

After a string of violent deaths in the last three months in West Auckland, local MP and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett revealed new funding for Zeal Education Trust to support its work with at-risk young people in the area.

A Youth Host scheme will be established in Henderson with trained youth workers patrolling local 'hot spots' and connecting with young people to prevent anti-social behaviour.

"Youth Hosts will be a positive presence on Henderson streets. They will have the skills and training to connect with young people to assess how things are going for them and give support when it is needed," Bennett said.

The Youth Host initiative was piloted by Zeal last year and feedback from young people showed it had a good effect, giving them someone to talk when they were reluctant to talk to police or other adults, according to Bennett.

"We're seeing youth crime rates dropping across the board. In the Waitemata District there's been a 34 per cent reduction in the number of 10 to 13-year-olds picked up by police since 2009, compared to a 30 per cent drop nationwide," she said.

Zeal will operate the scheme out of its Youth Centre with support from police, council and other community organisations.

The investment comes after six violent deaths in under three months.

"With the recent tragic events in West Auckland it is timely that Zeal has developed a community-based initiative that provides practical support for our youth while having more eyes and ears on our streets," Bennett said.

Connor Morris, boyfriend of Millie Elder-Holmes, was killed early on the morning of 3 August following a fight in Massey, West Auckland.

Farhat Malik and her daughter Sidra Malik were stabbed to death in their home in Ranui on May 20.

Two days later 23-year-old Josh Roach was shot and killed and another man was injured in the same Ranui neighbourhood.

On June 10, dairy owner Arun Kumar was killed at his shop in Henderson. A truant 13-year-old was arrested and charged with his murder.

And on June 20 police found a man's body inside a burning West Auckland house after going to help an injured woman at a neighbouring property in what was believed to be a domestic dispute.

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