On Monday 14 April a stirring powhiri welcomed manuhiri (visitors) into Te Whare Whaanui for the launch of Te Tirohanga.  National Commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot, iwi representatives, regional and national office staff, CareNZ representatives and five prisoners from Tongariro/Rangipo Prison (Te Hikoinga) all attended the event.

Te Tirohanga is a national programme that has been operating at whare in Waikeria, Tongariro/Rangipo and Hawke’s Bay prisons since October and since January in Rimutaka Prison.

While the Department has a goal of reducing re-offending by 25% by 2017 – the Te Tirohanga programme is aiming higher by supporting a reduction in re-offending by 30%.

The programme is based on a kaupapa Maori approach where prisoners enter the programme in groups of 10 on a quarterly basis. Groups progress through the six phases, each of 3 months' duration, with a total programme duration of 18 months.

Each phase meets prisoners' rehabilitation and reintegration needs including literacy and numeracy, career pathways, alcohol and drug treatment, restorative justice and skills to enhance the wellbeing of their whanau. In particular, Te Tirohanga will offer a range of training options and opportunities for employment. The programme will also make sure the men and their whanau are prepared for their release into the community.

The launch of the programme at Whanganui Prison also signified the first intake for the CareNZ drug and alcohol treatment programme as phase three of Te Tirohanga. The five prisoners from Tongariro/Rangip? Prison who transferred to the unit for phase 3 of the programme were also welcomed on to the site as part of the formal launch.

Te Tirohanga means “the focus”. It also refers to the last point from which a person can turn to look back on their old life, before turning to the new.

It’s an appropriate name for the programme and for what it offers participants and the outcomes the Department is hoping to achieve.