Restorative Justice is a programme in which victims and offenders meet to discuss the offence, its repercussions and how to make amends.

"We were very apprehensive about it," said Mrs Hanson. "As a matter of fact we found it a very, very healing process and it enabled us to move on from what had been a very worrying time."

Not long after she found out that Taranaki Restorative Justice Trust was seeking more facilitators.

"We had to provide a reference," she said. "I went to Bryan and asked him to give me a reference. He said, "I want you to give me a reference because I want to become a facilitator too."'

Taranaki Restorative Justice Trust manager Rebecca Crowe explains that only guilty plea cases can go through Restorative Justice, and both parties must agree to it. "It has really positive outcomes for offenders in terms of making changes to their behaviour and the causes of their offending," she said.

"Also victims feel empowered and have the chance to tell their story, which they wouldn't necessarily get through the court system where there's a guilty plea."

Conferences are overseen by trained facilitators.

After Mr Benton's initial experience with Restorative Justice, he believed it had the power to make a difference in the community.

"I would say it's the most rewarding thing I've ever been involved in," he said.

Despite this, it can be difficult. "There's a huge amount of emotion and anger and I think you've got a good Restorative Justice conference going when that happens."

Read the full article.