Ministers Excellence Award Winner Bevan Rodger, Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith & Acting Prison Director NRCF Mike RongoTwo of the new recruits at Northland Region Corrections Facility (NRCF), Paul Mohi and Bevan Rodger, have both been awarded a Corrections Minister’s Excellence Award acknowledging them as frontrunners in their respective cohorts. They join Corrections Officer Raniera Whiu, who earned his cohort’s excellence award in February.

The Minister’s Excellence Award was established in 2009 and recognises newly graduated corrections officers who have shown qualities of leadership, professionalism and all-round excellence.

Three of the 10 Excellence Awards given this year have been to NRCF officers and Acting Prison Director Michael Rongo says it’s an impressive feat for one facility considering there are 16 other Corrections’ prisons.

“We’re very lucky to have a number of recipients of the Minister’s Excellence Award at NRCF. It’s indicative of people re-patriating themselves to Northland,” he says.

“A lot of people born and bred in the Far North have gone away to experience life, but now they’re bringing all that experience and skills back to the North to help contribute to their community.”

The Northland community were starting to see the opportunities available through a career with Corrections and good numbers were being recruited in the region, Michael says.

Award winners Paul, Bevan and Raniera all came to Corrections from previous professions. Paul served in the Royal NZ Navy, trained as a carpenter and was a foreperson for Fulton Hogan before becoming a corrections officer. Bevan, who grew up in Orauta, recently returned to Northland after living in Sydney for 17 years. Raniera was a commercial fisher and had experience working as a cultural adviser as well as tutoring youth and adult learners before joining the Department.

Michael says previous life skills are valued as it stands new staff in good stead during their time working in prison and face-to-face with offenders every day.

“What we are seeing in the new staff joining our team is passion and motivation to help change lives, shape futures and make a difference in people. It’s more than just words; we’re seeing it in practice. Our officers are genuine, their āhua (character) and countenance shows they’re here for the right reasons.”

Bevan, who received his award at a ceremony in Wellington last week, says a career in Corrections offered him the chance to help offenders.

“I do realise this is a journey but it’s up to us to carry on as guiding lights and to be that positive change. I want to make a difference in the lives of others and in turn help my local community build better stronger families for the future.”