New Zealand's first female Pacific Islands judge is calling on her community to wake up to high rates of suicide and criminal behaviour among their young people.
The call follows new research which for the first time explains how violent youth offenders with a Pacific Island background differ from their Maori and European counterparts.
Psychologist Julia Iaone's three year study followed 600 Maori, European and Pacific Island violent youth offenders.
It shows first time Pacific Island youth offenders will commit the more violent crimes and usually at around age 17, putting them on the cusp of youth court jurisdiction.
"The reason why they were at school was because of their friends...and when that's gone, coupled with the fact they're not coming out with any quality education, what is then left for our Pacific Island kids?" said Iaone.
Judge Ida Malosi says from her experience there is a disappropriate number of Pacific Island youth appearing on violent charges and says learning about one's own heritage is key.
"Giving them the opportunity to be reminded and in fact learning for the first time what it is to be Samoan, what it is to be Tongan, and if you truly understand those things, then the rest of life makes sense."
Iaone also says her research shows youths generally do not offend within their own family.
"But they will quite easily offend against someone outside of their family, the common excuse will be 'well it wasn't my sister or it wasn't my mother," she says.
The research also shows a strong connection between exposure to family violence and the likelihood young people will become offenders themselves.
More than half of all violent youth offenders involved in the study, regardless of ethnicity, were exposed to family violence at some point.