Former robber ashamed of past, but sees a bright future ahead

A Napier teenager who started robbing dairies at the age of 12 says he's ashamed and sorry for the years he spent terrorising innocent people.

Rage Minhinnick told Newshub he's determined to change his ways, and has some advice for other troubled young people.

As a 12-year-old, the former offender was motivated by two things - money and drugs. To get them he and his friends resorted to thieving and thuggery.

"There is one thing you know that I just can't keep out of my mind, and that was taking a poor old lady's grocery money," he said.

He'd rob people waiting at bus stops and attack strangers walking through schools during the day or at night - it didn't really matter.

"Stealing from dairies, after hours, stealing from clothes shops... Anything that could get me money, I was stealing it."

But now Rage is ashamed of what he's done.

At home, he received regular beatings as a youngster - violence that ultimately motivated him to run away, before a childhood of crime began.

He says he was more comfortable on the streets than being around his own home, and he sometimes took his feelings out on others.

"I was young as, I didn't like being hit. My feelings were getting real twisted, you know. I was turning up at school and lashing out at other kids."

Rage has been in and out of various care facilities, with one of the more recent being a Child, Youth and Family residence in Manurewa, south Auckland.

It was there that he decided he needed to change, or the next step would be jail.

Since then, Rage has been doing a lot of what he calls self-repairing, discovering passions he never knew existed.

"I grew up not even knowing what I liked - it took me till last month just to find out I liked drums and art," he said.

He says part of what helped him was having advice from a trusted family friend.

"It's all I really needed was a little bit of support, a little bit of you know, 'You can do it, you've got potential, you're not hopeless'."

Community advocate Denis O'Reilly says Rage confided in him, telling him he was "going to do something stupid".

"I didn't know what that meant. Did it mean suicide, did it mean he was going to rob a shop?" he said.

"We don't need corporal punishment, we don't need more youth lock-up facilities, we don't need harsher penalties. We need people to help."

Rage has advice for other wayward youth: "Take the time to look at yourself and why you need to be doing those things, and can you be doing something else."

He's now considering a career in youth work so one day he can help young people just like him.