Photo: Whaea Michelle

Frame: The life-changing work of Whaea Michelle

Michelle Kidd defines her role at Auckland’s specialist family violence court as te kaiwhakatere – the navigator. It’s a one-of-a-kind job, helping guide defendants through the court system. And there’s no one better suited to it than Whaea Michelle.

Whaea Michelle is part of Frame, a series of short documentaries produced by Wrestler for The Spinoff.

“If we fix families,” says Michelle Kidd, “then the rest of the courts will be redundant. Our mokopuna will be safer, our grandparents will be safer – we will all be safer.”

The woman the call “Whaea Michelle” describes her unique role at Auckland’s specialist Family Violence court as te kaiwhakatere – the navigator. “My main objective within the family violence court is to make people feel comfortable coming to court,” she explains. With her support they can then begin the hard work of rehabilitation with the family violence court’s judge, Judge Fraser.

“The family violence court was established as a recognition of a need to do the work differently,” says Judge Fraser. He and Kidd have kept countless defendants out of the prison system and helped them turn their lives around since the specialist court was established in 2007 to offer families a more constructive and therapeutic way of working through the justice system.

Kidd’s small office on the third floor of the Auckland District Court building is full of artwork and gifts made for her by people she’s helped over the years. It’s clear she’s had a profound impact on each of their lives just as they’ve had on hers.

Frame is a series of short, standalone documentaries produced by Wrestler for The Spinoff. Watch more here.

Made with support from NZ On Air.




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