From the General Manager's Office
Most people will know of community work projects being carried out in their neighbourhood. Every day offenders are making reparation by doing something worthwhile: cleaning up graffiti, creating walking tracks, keeping parks and gardens beautiful.
We are pleased to receive many thank you letters from schools as it means that the contribution community work offenders make is acknowledged. For many offenders this is often one of the few times they have been able to demonstrate having a positive effect in their community and in the process getting some thanks for doing so.
Rapaura School in Blenheim appreciated community work offenders keeping their grounds neat, tidy and safe. Gisborne’s Elgin School was pleased to gain a vegetable garden through the efforts of offenders on community work. Hornby High in Christchurch wrote to say they were grateful that offenders continue to help out on Saturdays and on weekdays during the school holidays.
We receive letters of thanks from other organisations as well. Marae, district councils, kindergartens, bowling clubs, dog clubs, festivals, playcentres, cancer societies, the Department of Conservation, Riding for the Disabled are recent examples.
If the list above makes you think of a project where community work parties could play a part, we would appreciate hearing from you. For more information please talk to staff at your nearest Probation Service Centre. Contact details can be found in the White Pages under the Department of Corrections (See C under the blue government department pages).
& Psychological Services
Masterton Service Centre provides community work services for the whole of the Wairarapa. This makes it both a town and a rural-oriented service centre. Many activities take place, from creating and maintaining tracks to helping out at the city’s Salvation Army.
Service Manager Siobhan Garlick says that the key for success is the great relationship they have with other organisations in the Wairarapa. “We work closely with Police, local iwi and organisations for anger management, alcohol and drug treatment. We have to work together because the Wairarapa is so vast and by co-operating we can improve our community work service,” says Siobhan.
Working together is second nature for Senior Community Work Supervisor Rob Monson and Masterton District Council Parks and Recreation Officer Rosanne Heyes. In September they both inspected the newly created tracks in the Lansdowne Reserve. Thanks to community work this relatively new neighbourhood now has a park with walkways on its doorstep.
As Rob and Rosanne admire a recently placed picnic table, a jogger eases her way downhill. “It’s great to see these tracks being used,” says Rosanne. “We are planning on linking up all the tracks to Henley Lake in the centre of Masterton with lots of loops so it will provide a lot of variety.”
“Our community work teams lined the paths with the help of a digger,” says Rob. “They also did quite a bit of tree planting. We keep the parks clean as well; cut the grass and trim the side of the tracks.”
Further out to the southwest, Mt Holdsworth provides a popular walking spot in the Tararuas. About a year ago community work parties helped to paint the Holdsworth Lodge. “Your team has put in a fantastic effort to manage this alteration. We are receiving great feedback from the visitors to the area,” Chris Lester from the Department of Conservation Wairarapa Area Office writes in a thank you letter.
Chris also mentions in the letter that he would especially like to acknowledge the excellent effort of the supervisors. “Their superb supervision and communication with my team means that work is of top standard and quickly completed which we are very grateful for.”
Back in town the Salvation Army provides work for three offenders on community work. Dave Walker is their Senior Community Work Supervisor. He has only been in the job for about a year. It’s totally different from the freezing industry where he previously worked for more than 30 years.
“I just love being a community work supervisor,” he says. “For me it’s people like Sheila* who make it worthwhile. Sheila has been a volunteer at the Salvation Army after completing her community work sentence. She has turned over a new leaf.”
Manager of the Masterton Salvation Army Sandi Toki is very pleased with Sheila’s work. “Customers love her. She started as a volunteer in October 2008 but she is on maternity leave at the moment. We are hoping to see her smiling face back soon. She is such a bubbly personality, very friendly – nothing’s too much trouble. That’s why we put her behind the front counter.”
This is a privilege Sheila gained after completing her sentence. Offenders aren’t allowed to handle any money at all at the Salvation Army.
Sandi is very happy with the working relationship she has with Dave. “He is one of the best supervisors I have ever worked with. Dave has an eye for which offenders will do well here. He always calls me to ask which days will suit me before an offender starts here. I see him at least once a week and if I don’t know why an offender hasn’t turned up, he chases them for me. And when Dave told me that agencies can get funding for some equipment if they need to, I immediately applied for some price taggers – they have come in very handy!
*fictional name to protect her privacy
The 133 year-old Inglewood Railway Station – the oldest still on its original site in New Zealand – received national recognition in September. Corrections played a major part in this as offenders on community work helped bring the historic landmark back to its former glory.
The New Zealand Historic Places Trust gave the station Category I status. This is the highest ranking reserved for places with special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value.
Inglewood lies 16km southeast of New Plymouth. The New Plymouth Service Centre was pleased to help paint the station when they were asked by Inglewood Councillor Marie Pearce. It took the offenders on community work ten weeks to do.
Taking on Lake Taupo
Taupo Harbour Master Philip King has discovered the benefits of using offenders on community work. About six months ago he approached a community work centre and talked to the people there. Since then they have been doing all kinds of work around the landing reserve.
“The jewel in Taupo’s crown is the historical Harbour Master’s Residence, which was built in 1928,” says Philip. “It all started with this project. The residence on Taupo Boat Harbour had fallen into disarray and we didn’t have the money or people to do anything about it. It has been eight years since anyone had lived in it. So I was delighted when Corrections offered to help out and gave the residence an amazing facelift.”
Senior Community Work Supervisor Russell Wineera says it’s such a good project to have completed because of its visibility. “Most of what we do outside is just keeping things tidy. People take it for granted – it just looks the same as always. But after six weeks of working around and on the house, you could see the difference with this one.”
Philip says, “The residence was completely surrounded by scrub, gorse and blackberry. Now that this is cleared, the native trees stand out once again. We are getting lots of positive feedback from the ‘boaties’, Taupo residents and visitors alike. People had forgotten the house was there.”
The residence itself looks stunning as well. Russell says, “We water-blasted it. We’re just waiting for better weather to start painting. The best sort of feedback Philip could give us is more work. And he’s done that. We have cleared up other areas around the lake already.”
Philip says, “It’s been marvellous. Russell’s teams have been most helpful and I hope to continue this partnership for a long time.”
Minister's prayers answered
Rosebank Peninsular Church in West Auckland faced closure until the minister Rev Vaituulala Ngahe (Vai) found some innovative ways to keep the church open to the community it had served for more than 100 years.
Fund-raising helped raise the money to meet the material costs of the much needed renovations. But unfortunately the cost of the labour was beyond the budget. Vai says that this is where the community mucked in. “The most unexpected contribution came from community work parties from the Community Probation & Psychological Services at New Lynn.”
The project took almost six months to complete and offenders on community work provided regular assistance to the project. The work party was headed by Community Work Supervisor Pole Tuuhoko.
Pole explained that when he saw the project he knew it was achievable. “It was a big job though. The greatest challenge was to match the right people to the tasks at hand. Fortunately we had an abundance of skills and expertise within the work party, including painters, carpenters, and two professional sanders.”
The sanders returned the 100 year old church floor to its former splendour. For Pole the highlight of the project was seeing the end result, “It’s very different now, it’s beautiful,” Pole says. Reverend Vai is quick to point out that the benefit of community work involvement has not stopped just because the project is complete. Speaking of the offenders who carried out the community work sentence, the minister says, “I got to know them and now that some have completed their time and no longer have to assist us, they still return and help.”
The church is once again able to play a central role in the community. Now that the renovations are complete Vai reports that people are starting to use the church for other activities. “We have turned the old church into a community centre from which we can offer pastoral care and educational and outreach programmes.”
Helping Yaldhurst Museum accelerate
The racing cars in Christchurch’s Yaldhurst Museum can’t wait to move into their special Race Car Room. This job required high-quality skills and although it was difficult to find the right people, Corrections pulled through.
The offenders started with upgrading the museum’s entrance. They helped build and set up displays and also repaired brickwork on an old fire station located on the site.
“Without the input of the offenders it would have taken us much longer to upgrade the Museum,” says Yaldhurst Museum Director Grant Cooper. “We may never even have been able to do it at all...”
Yaldhurst Museum has a large classic car collection of about 160 cars. It was established by Alfred Cooper who purchased his ancestral home in 1963 to build the museum. Alfred had begun to collect old vehicles in the 1950s. He managed to include some rare cars in the museum collection such as a replica of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Christchurch CPPS Area Manager Nick Scott says Corrections has been involved with the museum for several years and the relationship has proven positive for both groups. “It’s been rewarding seeing the improvements made to the museum,” says Nick.
“Offenders also benefited from the work in the museum. They got the chance to acquire work experience and some good work habits. Both can be of great help when they look for employment after they have completed their sentence.”
Grant Cooper says three offenders helped with building, plastering and painting a new display known as the Race Car Room. This will display racing cars and motorbikes from the 1940s and 1950s.