IN THIS ISSUE: SST Has Persistence | Say No! To Youth Justice | Political Parties responses | Thank You
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Newsletter DECEMBER 2016

Nothing can take the place of persistence and SST has persistence in abundance

By Garth McVicar

Garth McVicarI often get asked how we manage to keep up the passion, determination and commitment necessary to ensure that Sensible Sentencing continues to be a sensible, effective voice in what sometimes seems to be a crazy world of liberal ideologists who seem to blatantly ignore the failings of their past philosophies and theories.

A recent example of the ‘nuttiness’ that gets championed from time to time is a group of ideologists who are campaigning to raise the age of youth justice to 21! This group of liberals blatantly ignore the fact that at 16 a young person can legally have sex, give birth, drive and own a firearm, yet these liberals say they are not old enough to be held to account for criminal behaviour.

SAY-NO!Please see the enclosed petition and articles from various political correspondents on this issue. Don’t just sign the petition and send it back – photocopy it and get as many signatures as possible.

Tour-of-Duty - Over the last twelve months I have travelled extensively around the country on a ‘Tour-of-Duty’ speaking at hundreds of functions, the turn out and support has been phenomenal and I would like to say a BIG thank you to all the SENSIBLE folk who made it possible  and welcomed me so warmly.

Justice for Moko - plea bargain debacle Our campaign and petition for a review of the plea bargain debacle has now been accepted by Parliament and is now before the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.  This campaign was initiated following the horrific death of Moko and the nationwide rallies on 27th June. While it is too early to know what the outcome will be we can say the campaign has gathered significant political support. Thank you to all our SENSIBLE supporters who helped make this happen.

Child Sex Offender Register - ‘thumbs-up’ Five years ago the Director of Human Rights instigated legal action against SST after we placed a child sex-offender [paedophile] on our offender data base, that case was the catalyst for a campaign for the Government to establish a Child Sex Offender Register. We are very pleased to be able to say that register is now operational and while it is not [as yet] publicly available it is a far cry from the days where paedophiles could hide behind name suppression and anonymity bestowed on them by the Courts. Thanks again to the thousands of SENSIBLE people who helped us achieve this.

Police numbers charade V Public Safety - It doesn’t seem to matter what Party is in power they seem at some stage to forget who put them there and try to shaft the voters. Police numbers and public safety are a classic example. National got elected by promising to get tough on crime and for their first two terms did a reasonable job implementing policies such as Three-Strikes and various other policies with a focus on public safety.

But as happens with all political parties the rot set in. The Government started tinkering with police numbers and funding and manipulating crime figures but they have recently been caught out. This has led to Labour announcing it will increase Police numbers by 1000 and New Zealand First pledging an extra 1800 if in a position to do so after the next election.

Persistence pays off Fights like the above are a common occurrence to us but in our drive for public safety our persistence is paying off and once again I would like to thank the thousands of SENSIBLE supporters who have made it possible.

Thank you and I wish you all the best for a safe and prosperous 2017. Garth

Thank You

A huge thank you to all members who renewed their membership from our May newsletter. Once again the mail has been amazing. We appreciate your overwhelming support which helps us continue the fight for change on your behalf. Thank you for taking the time to read our latest newsletter.


We welcome Hayley and Liston Heke. 

Hayley becomes our Waikato Victim Advisor and Liston our Waikato Representative they can be reached on 027 3354640 or


Our spokesperson for Gangs and Child Abuse, Scott Gurthrie 

Our youth representative: Jess McVicar,

Our spokesperson for Public awareness and Education Jock Jameson

Our Victim Advisors

Leigh Woodman is our National Victim advisor. Leigh can be reached by mobile: 027 561 2119 or
Jayne Walker is our South Island Victim Adviser. Jayne can be reached by mobile: 021 881 623 or

SAY NO To increasing age of Youth Justice

The Government is contemplating increasing the age of Youth Justice, which at present is 16.  A wide variation of ages are being debated from increasing the age to 18 or 21 with some more liberal groups even suggesting it should be increased to 25.

At present a 16 year old can legally have sex, give birth, get married, drive a car and own a firearm. Yet there is an ideological belief within Government and other agencies that a young person can do all the above but is too young to be responsible and held accountable in regards to criminal offending. 

 If the current Youth Justice System, including Youth Court, diversion and various alternative actions available in the current youth system are working so well, why is the crime rate increasing? Most of today’s criminals have escalated up from the current Youth Justice System! 

We say any offender over the age of 16 knows right from wrong and should be held fully accountable and responsible for their actions. Sensible Sentencing Trust is totally opposed to the proposal to increase the age of Youth Justice.

See the graph below: The vast majority of Police and Youth Aid teams are also OPPOSED to increasing the age! The graph below was taken from the Police Association magazine and the following question asked with 2977 responses:

SAY-NO! Please CLICK HERE for the petition and read articles from various political correspondents on this issue. Don’t just sign the petition and send it back- photocopy it and get as many signatures as possible. Thank you we appreciate your help.

SST Outraged

The home Invasion and assault of elderly woman in wheel chair leads for call for fully transparent youth justice system.

The assault  and home invasion of a 92 year old wheelchair bound woman in Rotorua has led to a petition being launched calling for a review of the Youth Justice System.

Five people under the age of 17 have been arrested in Rotorua for the assault on the elderly woman which followed a police call out to an address in Elizabeth Street shortly after 2pm on Saturday.

Following calls from irate members of the public SST have decided to launch the petition calling for a fully transparent, open and honest youth justice system.

Our understanding is that three youths had escaped from Rotorua youth prison two days prior after savagely assaulting three prison guards, two of whom were knocked out.”

Apparently this is not the first time offenders have escaped from this prison. Our informants tell us that due to possible infringement of their human rights the youth prisoners are not allowed to be locked down at night.

We understand that the Prison or the Police are unable to inform the media, or indeed the public, because to do so would further breach the human rights of the youth involved.

From our perspective this is an absolute nonsense, the Youth Justice System must be fully transparent, open and honest, if that means tramping on a few so-called human rights of offenders then that is just too bad.

We realise that what we are calling for is in direct contrast to the current attempt to increase the age of youth justice but we believe that thinking is badly flawed and public safety must always be paramount.

Human Rights are for human beings, anyone who commits a home invasion and assaults an elderly, woman in a wheel chair can hardly be classified as a human being. Garth

Hendrix Hauwai was 17 years old when he brutally attacked Lucy Knight, she had come to the rescue of an older woman that Hauwai was robbing in a North Shore shopping Centre. 

Hauwai, under the proposed changes would have been tried in the Youth Court.

SST says NO!! to increasing the age of Youth Justice. Hauwai knew what he was doing he should be accountable for his actions

Tyrone John Palmer was just 16 when he attacked Mathew Coley and 17 when he went to trial. Under the new proposed law there is every possibility that Palmer would have been tried in the less formal Youth Court or in reality the charge would have been a downgraded charge to fit the Youth Court. Palmer received just 22 months for killing Mathew; the Judge is quoted as saying he had to consider Palmer’s young age!

We Say Palmer knew what he was doing and should be culpable whether 16 or 17 and the sentence much longer than the 22 months he received.

We randomly chose four political parties to answer the following question for the newsletter “What is your parties stance on raising the age of youth justice” as we went to print we received three replies:

Anne Tolley - Social Development Minister

I want to thank your organisation for asking me to contribute to your newsletter.

Garth McVicar and I go back a long way, and he is a man I respect. 

We met recently at the Beehive where we had a good discussion over the current investigation into raising the youth justice age to 18. 

This was a recommendation of the independent expert panel which advised me on the current overhaul of care and protection. 

I announced in April that Cabinet had asked me and Justice Minister Amy Adams to look at this and we will report back to Cabinet soon. 

There is certainly no suggestion that 17 year olds who carry out very serious crimes would be dealt with in the youth court. They would automatically go to the adult court.

But could 17 year olds who are charged with less serious crimes be dealt with differently, to reduce the harm caused by crime and with it the economic cost of crime?

We know that once many of these young people go to an adult prison and associate with hardened criminals and gang members the chances of them reoffending and creating more victims increases. 

The Youth Court offers an opportunity to break the cycle of reoffending but is by no means an easy option.

Young people are still held to account. Adult sentences are still an option. 

Alongside the accountability the Youth Court can provide rehabilitation and wraparound services to address the drivers of crime in a young person’s life so that they don’t continue to commit crime for years to come. And if they are not committing crimes then that means they are not creating victims.

The government has been firmly focused on reducing youth reoffending. 

The youth justice system has worked hard to reduce youth crime by 33 per cent in the past five years.  We need to keep looking at ways to reduce this number even further, because that will mean fewer victims.

Darroch Ball – New Zealand First

We have heard many times over the claim that our youth justice system is ‘world class and highly effective’.  The actual reality of it all is that our youth justice system is demonstrably failing.  

Here are just some of the undeniable facts that shine some much needed light on the failing system:

  1. There is a 68% reoffending rate for those who go through the youth justice system.
  2. 75% of all young offenders are not prosecuted for their crimes and do not step foot in a court.
  3. 30% of those young offenders who are given diversion have previously offended three or more times already. 
  4. 80% of all youth court orders are ‘Family Group Conference Plans’ – they are told to go on a tramp and write a letter.
  5. Of the 17,000 proceedings for young offenders last year just 26 cases were deemed ‘serious enough’ to be transferred for sentencing in district court. A third of those cases are simply dismissed.
  6. By the time a young offender gets a Supervision Order it’s too little too late.  By then they will have an 80-90% reoffending rate.
  7. 75% of all front-line police and 55% of youth aid officers do not want an increase to the youth justice age.  The main reason they give - lack of accountability. 
  8. Just under half of all current adult prisoners have had a previous proceeding in the youth justice system.  If the youth justice system worked then we wouldn’t have just needed to spend $1billion on new prison beds.

Clearly there is a need to be flexible for first time young offenders who make those stupid mistakes.  But there must be accountability for those who continue to flip the bird at the police, the courts and the community.  

People use UNCROC as a main reason to extend the age limit (which by the way New Zealand signed with reservations specifically around our youth justice system), but the reality is we cannot in good conscience extend a demonstrably failing system before we fix it first.

The Maori Party

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the founding document of our modern nation reflecting the partnership between Māori as tāngata whenua and the Crown. The government in exercising its kāwanatanga or governance has an obligation to also honour and support the partnership and ensure that Māori retain rangatiratanga or self-determination. 

The Māori Party advocates for a restorative justice system based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi which is whānau-centred and free of discrimination. 

We aim to:

  • Review the entire Justice System to ensure it is aligned with tikanga Māori and a focus on eliminating institutional racism
  • Introduce Whānau Facilitators to ensure whānau are informed and are able to discuss all their choices and the consequences (legal and non-legal) in any court system.

The Māori Party believes in a justice system that works with whānau to solve problems. We absolutely support the call to raise the Youth Age Court as we know too well Māori representation particularly amongst Rangatahi is high. We also see a high proportion of these rangatahi displaying a variety of learning difficulties and differences. Our approaches are holistic and we believe that the future of our families lies in our hands – that’s Whānau Ora. 

Media contact: Erena Richards 021 859 773


On Monday 27th June, I joined the March for Moko rally outside the Napier courthouse 

The Napier march was one of a series of nationwide events organised by the Sensible Sentencing Trust as a peaceful protest of the Crown withdrawing a charge of murder against David William Haerawa and Tania Shailer for the death of three year old Moko and replacing it with a manslaughter charge. Moko was found to have died as the result of ‘multiple blunt force traumas’ inflicted by the pair, who were his caregivers at the time. 

During the march, the facts and statistics that I heard had a profound impact on me. In the past 25 years abuse, neglect and maltreatment has claimed more than 200 children and last year was one of the worst on record. I felt I needed to do something to help to support these innocent victims and all victims of violent abuse. Partnering with the Sensible Sentencing Trust through Tremains Team Up is my way of helping to support these victims and their families. To date, I am proud to have raised $1500 for the Sensible Sentencing Trust and I hope to donate many more critical funds. 

You can help me do this! Please refer me to your friends, family and networks and for every property I List and Sell, I will donate $500 to the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

Sensible Sentencing Trust would like to say a huge thank you to Jen and the Tremain Team

It is amazingly generous and we feel very humble.
In closing this article our justice for Moko petition came before parliament today and will go straight to select committee. This is good news as it gives the community another chance to have their say. THANK YOU JEN


The Sensible Sentencing Trust relies solely on the generosity of the community to fund our work. 

At times it’s a struggle and recently we have been looking at ways of fundraising.  Our Christchurch Victim advisor Jayne is looking at setting up a fundraising committee to help with this.  Thank you Jayne. 

If you are interested in joining her team please email Jayne or phone 021 881 623 she will be glad of the help.

SST appreciates our members taking the time to write to us, your support is what keeps us going.

“We have admired your work and dedication to improving justice in New Zealand. We wish you and the trust every success in the future”. Manawatu

“I thank you for the work your Trust does on our behalf, keep up the good work.” Christchurch

Thank You Onga Onga

SST would like to thank Marcus and Onga Onga Motors for their recent generous donation in supplying Garth’s vehicle with new tyres and service, we appreciate your generosity.

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