I’ve been driving taxis on the late shift for five years now. I love my job. I love meeting and talking to people from various walks of life. One night on the job I was assaulted, but after going through the Iwi Community Panel process, I was able to move on.
It was a busy night in Invercargill, so I was sent from Otatara to Winton to collect some passengers. It was a long wait for the man and his partner, so when I arrived I apologized profusely.
The couple were lovely. They assured me it wasn’t a problem and so we began our drive back to Invercargill. The man, who was very drunk, fell asleep.
I took the couple through the McDonalds drive-through and then I took them home. The man’s partner lifted him out of the car and they both went down in a heap so I jumped out of the car and raced around to help.
The woman went to take the McDonalds inside and the man started trying to open the car door, but I explained to him he was at home. The car wasn’t unlocked but he was too drunk to even use the door handle.
He got angry and told me to open the door and before I knew it, he had punched me in the face. My glasses pinged off and I started to panic because I can’t see without them. The man’s partner raced back outside and found them for me but they were broken and scratched.
I got in the car and left. I pulled over further down the road and reported it to the police, who came to take my statement. I wasn’t injured badly as he hadn’t hit me hard.
The police asked how I would like it to be handled and how I would feel about it being referred to an Iwi Community Panel. I wasn’t worried as long as my glasses were paid for.
Two weeks later, I was contacted by the Iwi Community Panel Co-ordinator who made the process easy and comfortable. She explained what would happen at the panel and took all of my stress away.
I attended the panel and had the opportunity to tell my story in front of the police, the panel, and the man who had assaulted me.
The panel were lovely and encouraging, and the environment was friendly and welcoming. At no point did the panel treat anyone any different. It was about trying to get to the bottom of what had happened and why. It wasn’t me vs him, it was just about us telling our stories. He apologized to me during the process and I could tell he felt bad about what he had done.
I was pleased with the outcome. I didn’t want to see him go to jail or get punished. He brought money with him to the panel and handed it to me to pay for my glasses.
I left the panel feeling ready to go back to my day, to go back to work. I had no angst, no anxiety. It felt like Mum and Dad have got a handle on this, you don’t need to worry. I was able to put a full stop on it and move on.
I hope the Iwi Community Panel continues to help more people.
Iwi Community Panels (ICP) are an alternative resolution process for low-level offenders focusing on education, prevention and accountability. The service is provided by Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust in partnership with police, local iwi and the wider community.
Police can refer a participant to the ICP if they are aged 18 years or over and the participant accepts the Police summary of facts. https://nkmp.maori.nz/service/iwi-community-panels/