It's hoped a new community-led initiative will reduce re-offending by addressing the causes of crime.

Te Pae Oranga programme is a restorative justice programme that brings together stakeholder agencies and individuals.   

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says it’s a landmark initiative for Māori and for New Zealand.

“Today is really significant for the police but also for the wider justice system and iwi Māori that who we partner with in terms of turning around of this over-representation of Māori in the justice system.”

Te Pae Oranga the initiative involving iwi community justice panels to solve the problem of Māori making up over 50% of the prison population despite Māori only making up 14% New Zealand's population.

“This is really in line with prevention, not prosecution and how we can help people by understanding what got them into that space and help them get out of it instead of just taking a sanction approach.”

Originally piloted in 2010 in Christchurch, eight years later seven panels have been established.

Another five panels are due to be established by 2019.

All iwi and community justice panels managed independently from the New Zealand Police.

Latest stats have shown an 11.9% reduction in reoffending for Māori youth aged 17-24.

The project is funded until the end of the financial year of June 2019 but no doubt will be renewed.