Rise issue 09 cover

Northland Regional News Article: Maximising Maytz

three teenagers

Street Maytz and Community Max are making a significant difference in the Far North community.

Although the programme is largely structured towards youth crime prevention, Street Maytz delivers a diverse range of transferable skills which ensures that the participants have the potential to become the leaders of tomorrow.

"Community Max is just wonderful," exclaims Maureen TePaa, Project Manager of Crime Prevention Kaitaia. "Without it we wouldn't have been able to employ the youth we need to deliver the Street Maytz programme."

Developed three years ago to plug a gap, Street Maytz connects young people with their community, their families and each other.

After core funding had been reduced, the not-for-profit organisation Far North Safer Community Council Maytz was short-staffed. "I was really stressing because we only had two Maytz and couldn't meet our commitments," Maureen explained.

In stepped Community Max, which provides a wage subsidy for six months for young people helping with a community-based project. This funding meant the variety of tasks that Street Maytz undertakes in the Kaitaia community, like day and night patrols aimed at reducing offending, can continue.

"Young people don't take kindly to 'uniforms' but they do respond positively to direction from their peers," Maureen says, of having a strong Street Maytz presence on the streets.

Other services include monitoring those going to and from school grounds, checking for lunch passes to reduce truancy, and the Graffiti Wipe Out programme. "We have done ourselves out of a job in the graffiti department, which is an excellent result that the whole community can see."

Staff on board

Youth candidates for Street Maytz are referred by Work and Income. Adele Tuhega, 22, had been on a benefit for three years. "I am working for my money and doing something I love, which is caring for taitamariki," Adele says with a smile.

19 year old Brayden Rule had been on a benefit for a month after returning from Australia. "I was made redundant from my job in Melbourne and couldn't find work, so decided to come home," Brayden said. "I now have an opportunity to learn new skills and be involved in the community."

Street Maytz Coordinator Kristy Windelborn is a 23 year old, born and raised in Kaitaia. "I finished my honours in psychology last year and returned to Kaitaia seeking employment. I always wanted to work with troubled youth who didn't have the same opportunities I have had." Kristy is really clear about the opportunity the young people need.

"Youth are such a driving force in our community but there isn't many resources that cater for this age group," Kristy said. "Many people think we (Street Maytz) are just security but we are so much more than that. We want to give all youth a choice and give them good incentives to make their own decisions to follow a good path."

And now, thanks to Community Max, that good work can continue.