Hinewirangi Morgan in class with Te Waharoa participants.

Fifty-eight prisoners have begun a personal journey towards a real educational qualification thanks to Corrections’ new partnership with Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Te Waharoa, a Level 2 National Certificate in Maori, was developed as the key learning component of the national rehabilitation programme Te Tirohanga. It’s being delivered to prisoners in five whare (units) at Waikeria, Tongariro/Rangipo, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, and Rimutaka Prisons.

Barney Tihema, Corrections Manager Maori Services says while most of the men in the units identify as Maori, they have little connection with their iwi, the Maori language or values. “We aim to change this.”

Te Wananga’s Project Sponsor Tony Dowling says Maori in prisons are one group that can benefit from a targeted approach to education. “The majority of prisoners in Te Tirohanga are under 25 years, have no secondary or tertiary qualifications, and low literacy and numeracy.”

At Waikeria prison’s Te Ao Marama unit, 13 men are working through Te Waharoa, which covers te reo M?ori, haka, waiata, colonisation of Aotearoa, the Declaration of Independence, Treaty of Waitangi, and New Zealand Land Wars – as well as lessons to improve literacy and numeracy.

Kaiako (tutor) Hinewirangi Morgan says it’s been hard for some of the tane to spend six and a half hours ‘in class’ five days a week.

The key has been to make the learning fun and relevant. “You make it more meaningful by making them study their own hapu, iwi.”

“They’re creating a scrapbook of themselves from mai ra ano (times gone by), to where they are at this moment in time. It’s opened up huge doors for them.”

“One tane said to me, what has this got to do with my offending? I said, it’s not about your offending, it’s about you as a person.”

Those who complete Te Waharoa will receive an NZQA approved National Certificate in Maori and completed requirements for NCEA Level 2.

For many it will be the first educational qualification they have achieved.

Corrections’ Director Maori Neil Campbell says Te Waharoa shows Corrections’ commitment to offering prisoners the best support possible to ensure successful reintegration and contribute to the goal of reducing re-offending by 30% among men who complete Te Tirohanga.