Colourful baskets and mats, woven by prisoners from Spring Hill Corrections Facility’s Pacific Focus Unit (Vaka Fa’aola), are now on display to the public at Parliament’s Bowen House.

Under the guidance of leading tivaevae (Cook Islands quilting) artist Mary Ama, the prisoners have been using recycled materials to weave their intricate creations.

The men in the Unit take part in ‘Saili Matagi’, a group-based programme which teaches a range of skills so that participants can change attitudes and behaviours and reduce the likelihood of re-offending. The programme involves family and community groups in the prisoners’ rehabilitation and reintegration and connects back to their Pacific identity.

Each Saturday morning they work on arts and crafts, including traditional weaving, with Mary Ama and the Pacifica Mamas. The Pacifica Mamas are a group that come together to exchange stories and their skills of Weaving, Leimaking, and Tapa Making.

As well as learning new skills, using recycled materials teaches the men about the importance of protecting the environment and employment opportunities.  The brightly coloured plastic strapping, packing tape and raffia used in the weaving is readily available and donated by Auckland factories.

VakaFa'aola – Polynesian  Creations is open to the public three days a week (Wednesday-Friday), 10am to 3pm, from 26 March until 2 May.

Bags woven from recycled materials.

Skirts made from recycled materials.