The Te Piriti Special Treatment Unit for child sex offenders at Auckland Prison was set up in 1994. It is closely modelled on the Kia Marama programme at Rolleston Prison in Christchurch however includes a far stronger Māori content with specific focus on promoting a therapeutic environment within a tikanga Māori framework. A recently completed evaluation study (Nathan, Wilson & Hillman, 2003) compared Te Piriti graduates with the same control group as used in the previously reported Kia Marama evaluation. Results from this study are promising, with a sexual recidivism rate for Te Piriti graduates (Māori and non-Māori combined) of 5.47% as compared to the control sample sexual recidivism rate of 22%. This result is obtained after 2 1/2 to 4 years follow-up post release from prison. Of perhaps most significance however is that when recidivism rates are analysed separately for ethnicity, Māori men do better at Te Piriti, with its marriage of tikanga Māori and Western psychology, than they do at Kia Marama, with its predominantly Western psychological approach. For example, the sexual re-offending rate for Māori graduates from Te Piriti was 4.41% (N=68) compared to 13.58% for Māori graduates from Kia Marama. (N=81). Preliminary results therefore suggest that the Te Piriti programme is at least as successful in reducing sexual recidivism amongst child sex offenders as the Kia Marama programme, and for Māori offenders, maybe even more successful. This obviously represents a strong case supporting the principle of responsivity, in that greater reductions in recidivism are obtained when the programme style and delivery is matched to the ethnicity of offenders. The findings from Nathan et al. (2003) add considerable knowledge to our understanding of the role that tikanaga Māori processes play in the effective treatment of both Māori and non-Māori offenders.
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