Community Works - February 2009
From the General Manager's Office
In this first issue of 2009 I would like to welcome you to the New Year.
Community Probation & Psychological Services (CPPS) will continue to manage community work and give offenders the opportunity to make reparation through projects that provide a direct benefit to specific groups, such as schools and charitable organisations, and the community in general.
As we start the new year we will also continue to look for new projects. People are frequently surprised when they discover we can help them. For example West Coast Cancer Support Navigator Adam Gilshnan was surprised and delighted to hear we could help with his work in supporting people with cancer. See the story
If you know of projects in your area where community work parties could play a part, we would love to hear from you. For more information please talk to staff at your nearest Probation Service Centre. Contact details can be found here or in the White Pages under the Department of Corrections (See C under the blue government department pages).
Community Probation & Psychological Services
Helping old souls rest
When a Whangarei newspaper featured the Council’s plans to restore the historic Kioreroa Cemetery, Corrections seized the opportunity to help out.
“The council was incredibly grateful for the offer of labour from community work parties,” says Whangarei CPPS Service Manager Tony Hodgson. “But before work parties could start the clean up the site had to be blessed by a local kaumatua. Otherwise the ground would have been ‘tapu’ or sacred and prohibited for most offenders.”
Kioreroa Cemetery covers about six acres; some graves pre-date 1860. The last funeral took place around 70 years ago.
Unfortunately the site fell into disarray and the result was an overgrown and neglected cemetery subject to vandalism. It was so bad that some families even had their relatives exhumed and reburied elsewhere.
Tony says, “Falling trees have damaged many of the remaining headstones. Roots also lifted some headstones and the cemetery became so overgrown that the horse-drawn carriage lanes can no longer be seen. The lanes originally divided the graveyard into four sections: Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic and a combined area for Methodists, Baptists and non-denominational.”
At the end of November 2008 community work parties started cleaning up the heavily neglected cemetery. “First they cleared weeds, removed rubbish and graffiti from bordering properties,” says Tony. “The next step is to start restoration work on the headstones with the help of local business Robinson Memorials and to create a memorial for those graves that no longer have a headstone. Also, we will recreate the broad lanes and turning circles that were used for the carriages. When we were cleaning the place we dug up an old wagon wheel which will probably be used as a historical exhibit.”
Cemetery Manager Whangarei District Council Helen Cairns is glad the work is underway. “This is an exciting and positive project to be involved with. With the help of Corrections we can put things right after 40 years of hurt and unhappiness for so many people, and restoring the cemetery close to its former state.”
“It’s nice to get some positive feedback from the families who have visited the cemetery recently,” says Tony. “The offenders can also see the importance of this job. Working on a project like this helps reinforce good work ethic and gives them a great sense of pride when the job is complete.”
Taking on graffiti in Christchurch
Every Saturday, rain or shine, Patrick Lyons leads a work party of nine offenders through the streets of Christchurch. Armed with paint they attack graffiti, mainly in the eastern part of the city.
“We started around August last year,” says Graham Horne, Senior Community Work Supervisor at Pages Road Service Centre.
“Christchurch Area Manager Nick Scott was very keen to work with the council to remove graffiti. Despite the fact there are quite a few organisations that help fight graffiti in Christchurch, we are the first community work party to deal with this ever present problem in the region.”
Face-liftChristchurch City Council Graffiti Team Leader Claire Milne says that after initial stumbling blocks all is going well.
Claire and Graham discuss which areas need attention. “We are very pleased with the way the project is going. This community work party has completed some great clean up work in certain eastern suburbs of Christchurch such as Linwood and Bromley.”
One particular instance that Claire is especially pleased with is the clean up of an old Caltex building. The photos on this page say it all.
“The graffiti just made the building look so messy. The whole area has experienced a face-lift after the work party came round and did such a fantastic job. We have received a lot of positive feedback from the public as well. We are very happy to have developed such a good relationship with Corrections and in time would like to take it to other Christchurch Service Centres.”
High praise for support at South Canterbury Agility Show
“Having reliable help from community work at our last Triple Championship Agility Show was just great,” says Jenny D’Arcy, vice-president of the South Canterbury Dog Show.
In November 2008 the Timaru Service Centre helped the Dog Training Club. Senior Community Work Supervisor Mary Livingston heard a friend talk about the show and immediately thought it would be a good opportunity for community work.
“The president thought it was a brilliant idea and welcomed the help of two offenders at the November Triple Championship Agility Show,” says Mary. “I selected two offenders who I thought were reliable and punctual. One owns a dog, the other is doing a course in outdoor recreation so that fitted quite well too.”
“The South Canterbury Dog Training Club holds five championships a year. Around 55 dogs of all breeds run at each event,” says Jenny. “Agility is a growing sport in which the dogs jump over a series of obstacles and run through tunnels. The handlers run alongside them.
“The two people doing community work helped ensure the day ran smoothly. They maintained the course and completed many tasks behind the scenes. We are grateful to Corrections for their assistance.”
Helping at a senior kaumatua's tangi
Twenty offenders in Hamilton helped out at the tangi of the well-known and respected kaumatua Hare Puke.
The offenders spent five days at the Hukanui Marae. The Hamilton Service Centre was one of many organisations asked to help out at the tangi. Schools, other marae and government organisations also assisted. They all looked after about 2,000 guests, among whom some very distinguished.
Taking good care of the guests appears to have brought out the best in the offenders, according to the whanau of Hare Puke.
“The 20 offenders we selected for the job not only had to have tikanga Maori experience but also had to be familiar with the Hukanui Marae,” says Senior Community Work Supervisor Storm Powell.
“We requested a readiness to abide to the even stricter code of conduct at the tangi as well as their full commitment to see the event through.”
Hare Puke’s whanau asked for assistance from the community work centre. Storm says, “Hare was one of the first people we spoke with about nine years ago when the idea to do community work on and around this Waikato marae first arose, starting the first pa harakeke (flax plantation) in 100 years.”
The help the community work offenders and all the other helpers provided at the tangi lightened the load of the Puke whanau.
Hare was highly respected which meant that many guests across the country were expected to arrive for the duration of the tangi. Not knowing exactly when the guests were going to arrive added to the complications of the whanau.
The community work offenders and many other helpers provided refreshments and snacks to guests waiting to be called onto the marae. Sheer numbers meant many waited outside for two hours, often after spending hours travelling to the Waikato.
Once guests were welcomed, the offenders assisted with feeding them. They helped prepare kai, clear tables and reset them again for the next group. These catering tasks earned the offenders and their supervisors Wayne Tukiri and Warren Smith the name of ringa wera, or hot hands.
All the efforts of the offenders were greatly appreciated by the Puke whanau. ”They were fantastic,” says Kirika Proffit, Hare’s niece and one of the tangi organisers.
“My uncle had specifically asked for the support of the community work offenders. I know most of them as they have done a lot of work around the marae. So I thought it was a great idea to involve them in the tangi.
“The offenders and supervisors also joined the male guests in performing the haka for Hare when he left the marae for Taupiri Maunga. It was an impressive farewell…”
A great deal of community work projects are taking place on the West Coast including the building of walking tracks and mountain bike trails. However, the most impressive could be giving support to cancer patients.
“A huge weight is off my mind,” says Kathy Johnstone of Hokitika. Because of problems with her immune system Kathy can’t be around chemicals.
“I used to be a very independent woman,” Kathy says. “But weed spraying is just out of the question. So I was relieved when Corrections offered to come to my rescue. They not only got rid of the weeds but also removed two large trailer loads of rubbish and fixed some guttering among other things.”
Never imaginedThe person who sought community work assistance for Kathy and two other cancer patients on the West Coast is Adam Gilshnan. He is Cancer Support Navigator for the West Coast Primary Health Organisation (PHO).
While handing out invites for the
Men’s Health Day in Greymouth, Adam walked into the local CPPS Service Centre and had a chat with Service Manager
Kelly Hill. “I was just blown away after talking to her,” says Adam. “Never had I imagined the kind of support we could have been getting from community work parties.”
Mowing the lawn, tidying up the yard and painting the house are just a few tasks work parties can do for non-profit agencies.
“For the not so well-off cancer patients, a delivery of firewood is also possible and can be appreciated greatly,” says Kelly. “Needless to say we choose the offenders very carefully for this kind of work and they are always supervised.”
Kathy is certainly appreciating the support she is receiving from the work parties. “I am gob smacked. It didn’t worry me at all to have offenders doing work around the house in the first place because I believe everyone deserves a second chance. But I didn’t expect them to be as polite and courteous as they have been.”
Adam hopes it is just the beginning of the partnership. “We have great plans for helping more cancer patients in even more ways. We are already thinking about creating vegetable gardens for them. Kelly and I have discussed how helpful that would be – especially for cancer patients who are struggling to make ends meet. Also, I am going to spread the word to my colleagues. Like me before, most have no idea of the possibility that community work could be helping people with cancer.”
New service centre in Central Otago
Central Otago will have their first community work centre at the end of February when the new Service Centre in Alexandra opens.
Up until now the community work in the Alexandra area was outsourced to agencies such as sports clubs. With the opening of the new centre even more jobs can be taken on.
Rick Mogensen will be the new Senior Community Works Supervisor. Some of the projects the council hopes to get help in include work at the airport, bush clearing and tidying up parks.
Standing tall again
The Jim Barnett Reserve at Waotu is alive and flourishing. About 15 years of community work has been a significant factor in its survival.
Gordon Stephenson is Chair of the Jim Barnett Reserve Committee. “The original name of the bush at the reserve is He Waotu Tahi Nga Rakau. It means the tall forest that stood by itself. It refers to the bush that was protected by a hill so it survived the big volcanic eruption of 186 AD.”
Hoping to improveThe reserve is a 20 minute drive from Tokoroa in South Waikato. It is over 16ha plus 7ha of private forest included within the fences. Extensive logging took place from the late 1890s to around 1920 and many high quality matai, rimu and totara were extracted. However a forest dominated by tawa survived.
When the council bought the land from the Barnett family in 1992 it was all set for rapid recovery. To the casual observer the tall mature forest shows few signs of earlier logging, except for the occasional old stump and the evidence of the tramway once used for taking the logs out.
“Since 1993 we have planted thousands of native trees,” says Gordon. “There has been a huge input by volunteers from Forest & Bird, among others. We are pleased to say we now have fantastic bird life here with many kereru, tui and bell birds. For some strange reason the North Island robins we reintroduced in 2001 didn’t want to settle down here but we are hoping to improve this with the help of the nearby Maungatautari Ecological Reserve.”
Community work parties have played a large part in the conservation of the Jim Barnett Reserve from the start. “Over time the offenders have completed a fence surrounding the area,” says Gordon. “A lot of heavy work has been completed, including putting up fences to progressively enclose new tree plantings. They have also cut through bush to make tracks. We have a toilet at each end of the reserve and water laid on. It is now a quality public recreational asset.”
Service Manager Dave Rennie says: ”For many years the Jim Barnett Reserve was the pet project of long serving Community Work Supervisor the late Doug Gooding. He was a keen conservationist and lover of the great outdoors. Doug ensured the Reserve maintained its place near the top of Tokoroa Community Work Centre’s ‘priority jobs list’. Since Doug’s passing in 2007 enthusiasm for this project has been staunchly maintained by Community Work Supervisor John Shannon.”
“The community work parties have done really well,” says Gordon. “They are very much into it. They call it ‘our’ project – that says something about their level of commitment. Over the years I have certainly noticed more and more visitors enjoying the reserve. I don’t think this would have been possible without the support of the work parties.”