Hawke's Bay Prison and the Department of Corrections are proud to announce the graduation of youth prisoners from the Hawke's Bay Youth Unit’s tikanga programme. Seven prisoners graduated from the course on Saturday.
Prisoners in this course completed 100 hours of education in tikanga Maori which included kapa haka, raranga (weaving), whakairo (carving) and mau rakau (the art of Maori weaponry drills).
Their whanau joined them at the prison on Saturday to celebrate and acknowledge their achievements. The graduates were presented with a certificate.
“To graduate and achieve something like this is a first for many of these prisoners. They have worked hard alongside their tutors,” says Acting Prison Manager Yvonne Fuller.
“They were not given an easy ride, when they were interviewed and accepted for this programme they were told that if they slacked off once and missed one class they would be off the course.
“Staff have noticed a huge change in the boys that have completed the course. They are more attentive and far more enthusiastic in participating within the Youth Unit.
“The tutors have instilled a real sense of pride and discipline in these prisoners. The commitment they have shown is really positive. Most of these boys didn’t see anything through when they were in the community.”
The majority of this course was run over weekends with tutors and volunteers giving up their time to help the graduates.
The graduation also gave the Youth Unit a chance to unveil a garden that some youth prisoners have been working on. This garden has been based on a traditional Maori-style garden which coincides with much of the tikanga work the prisoners have been doing.
The garden utilised a previously neglected area of the unit. Prisoners, with the help of Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) instructors, have planted, landscaped and painted fixtures within the garden.
Prisoners working in the garden earn New Zealand Qualifications Authority Unit Standards that they can put towards a National Certificate in Horticulture Level 2.
“The garden is an ongoing project that these prisoners are participating in. It is great that they are gaining some experience and skills that can help them gain qualifications,” says Ms Fuller.
“Research has shown that prisoners who find sustainable work after release are less likely to re-offend upon release. Some of these prisoners have shown a real aptitude and desire to work in the horticulture sector upon release.
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