Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis says he is “deeply concerned” after a video of MMA-style fighting emerged out of an Oranga Tamariki youth justice residence.
Four staff members have been removed from the residence and a police investigation has been opened.
The filmed fight occurred last month at Korowai Manaaki in South Auckland, the same facility a 30-hour standoff occurred during the weekend after five residents escaped to the roof.
Davis said the video – first broadcast by Newshub this evening – in which two young men were pummelling each other while being encouraged by fellow residents, was “totally unacceptable”.
Oranga Tamariki deputy CEO Tusha Penny said four staff who work within the residence have been removed from any duties and interaction with young people or children in the care of Oranga Tamariki.
Penny said once Oranga Tamariki became aware of the video, immediate action was taken and a police investigation was opened.
“We have checked on the wellbeing of the young people involved and offered them further support,” Penny said.
Davis said Oranga Tamariki youth justice residences have “deep-set issues” and require addressing, which is currently under way through a rapid review process.
“[Former police commissioner] Mike Bush, as an independent DCE [deputy chief executive] is currently leading a rapid review of all residences,” Davis said
“The wide-ranging review of residences is aimed at flushing out any inappropriate behaviour, including any incidents like this.
“The young people who are in these facilities are some of the most vulnerable. That’s why it’s my expectation that Oranga Tamariki helps them to get back on the right path.”
The Oranga Tamariki youth justice residences have been in the spotlight in recent weeks after two groups of residents at separate facilities spent the night on the roof.
At both the Korowai Manaaki facility in South Auckland and the Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo youth justice facility near Christchurch, the youths were only coaxed down after the offer of fast food and they had stayed on the roof for more than 24 hours.
It was also revealed last month at least five young people had allegedly been abused by staff at Oranga Tamariki residences.
Two staff members were removed residence and police are investigating.
Rachel Maher is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. She has worked for the Herald since 2022.