From the General Manager's Office
Welcome to this second issue of Community Works for 2011. I hope you will find the array of examples of the projects involving our community work teams informative.
You may find it interesting to note that between 1 July 2010 and 31 May 2011, offenders serving community work sentences provided 3,087,987 hours of unpaid labour to the community. On average for this financial year to date, 24,073 offenders have been subject to a community work sentence at any given time.
Across the country, the most community work hours have been provided in the Waiariki (Bay of Plenty) area, with 403,000 hours of free labour provided to the community between 1 July 2010 and 31 May 2011. A significant number of hours have also been completed in the Manukau area, with approximately 369,000 hours completed by community work offenders as at 31 May.
Community work offenders have also been particularly useful in Christchurch, with over 170,000 hours of labour undertaken to help the community since the September quake. Offenders have been shovelling liquefaction at marae, schools and other public spaces – particularly in the eastern suburbs.
As you’ll appreciate, we’re always on the look-out for new and worthwhile projects, so let us know if you think we may be able to help your community. The details of your local CPS Service Centre are in the White Pages under the Department of Corrections (under the blue Government Department pages).
Community Probation Services
The calm after the storm
In early May, the tiny beach settlement of Waimarama in Hawke’s Bay was hit by a significant storm. A call for help from the Hastings District Council Civil Defence and Emergency Management group resulted in approximately 100 offenders taking part in the massive clean-up.
Community Work Supervisor Lyn Bryant was involved in taking the first team of 29 offenders over the hill to the seaside resort. “There was silence in the van as we drove closer to Waimarama. The road was down to one lane in many places and blocked by massive slips where the hillside had come crashing down; bringing trees, mud and boulders with them. The offenders were shocked at the devastation caused to a place that they come to with their families to dive, fish and swim.”
The Civil Defence team met Lyn and her team at the rural fire station. Two teams were then despatched at the local school, marae and Kohanga Reo. Duties included clearing mud off the road, digging out footpaths and even digging the Kohanga bus out of the silt!
“Not one offender complained about the tasks they were given. They saw how great the need was and they went to work without question and achieved huge amounts in a very short time.
“You could see in the offenders’ faces the emotion and the sympathy they had for the locals. They are so thankful that no lives were lost and that the buildings are salvageable. They appreciate being able to help out, and have given it their absolute commitment; with some reporting for community work more frequently in order to see the job through.”
A week after the storm, two further teams of community work offenders went to Waimarama to begin cleaning up the marae buildings. Spades were used to scrape the mud off the floors. The floors were then hosed and scrubbed with brooms repeatedly until they were clean.
A number of homes had to be evacuated and red-stickered, due to having over a metre of water through them. The small beach-side community relies on septic tanks which had also been damaged and were overflowing. Raw sewage was therefore running through some homes.
Lyn said the Waimarama community really welcomed the assistance of Community Probation Services. “The impact of the storm and clean-up work has highlighted for offenders the benefit of the work they do. Prior to the storm we had done a fair bit of work at the marae – some of the offenders have pointed out damage to things they have put work into, such as the gardens.”
Hastings District Council Emergency Manager Don Scott said, “From a Council perspective, we were thankful for their help – it was of great benefit.”
Thanks to the efforts of Senior Community Work Supervisor Stuart McKenzie; Supervisors Shane Crosswell and Peter Hinton, and Service Manager Stuart Knight who proactively identified the seriousness of the situation.
Salt Marsh Eco project
The Nukuhou Salt Marsh Care Group was declared the winner of the best Community Environment Initiative Award – with community work offenders helping along the way.
Twenty very dedicated locals have been painstakingly working on the Salt Marsh restoration since February 2003. Predator control started in May 2005 with 144 stoats, 77 weasels, 158 rats and 51 hedgehogs having been eradicated.
As a result of the group’s efforts, fernbird numbers have risen from around 20 to well over 100. And the area now has an impressive board-walk and picnic area, with a public walkway gradually being formed.
Community work offenders from Whakatane and Opotiki have provided over 2,000 hours of labour. “It’s been a real education for the offenders,” says Kelly Hughes, Community Work Supervisor. “They’re learning all about ecological issues, and the life-cycle of whitebait; it’s information that they’re also sharing with the new offenders.”
Offenders’ work has included planting and pruning trees and flax bushes, building board-walks and spreading rock on footpaths. “The offenders can really see themselves returning to catch whitebait during the season,” says Kelly.
Voting for the award was done on-line, as part of the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Campaign.
Massive murals a true inspiration
Community work groups from Manurewa have been painting kowhaiwhai or M?ori motifs on the Puna o te Ora Christian Family Care Centre in Pukekohe.
Puna o te Ora is a M?ori orientated organisation which incorporates tikanga M?ori in its management and liaison with the community and also our Department.
Before offenders commence their creative work, a karakia is conducted, and the ritual is also repeated at the end of the day. In respect of the diverse community, Puna o te Ora’s sponsors have, on many occasions, given the opportunity for the karakia to be led by offenders in their own ethnic language.
The kowhaiwhai started on the entrance doors to the meeting area, with the sponsors so impressed with the artistic talent of the offenders, that they requested more patterns to be designed around the building. The project has now flourished, where the offenders’ kowhaiwhai patterns and paintings are evident in the entire building from the meeting house to the wharekai and in the offices.
Manurewa Service Manager Greg Wipani says the work “has instilled the offenders with a sense of responsibility and commitment to appreciate their whakapapa and tikanga. They leave with a great sense of pride and acknowledgement of a job well done.”
Thanks to Corrections
This sensational ‘thank you’ card was sent to the team at CPS’ Manukau Service Centre. It read: “We are so grateful to your department for providing people to do maintenance tasks around our Christian Community Care centre. Our property looks so much better because of the efforts of your teams. We consider your involvement in our work a real blessing.”
When a Papakura team of community work offenders heard a faint cry for help whilst attending a project at the local RSA, they didn’t muck around. Following the voice, Community Work Supervisor Phillip Harland and two offenders found themselves in a nearby residential property. They discovered an 87-year-old lady, dazed and bewildered, having fallen in her garden. She had tripped over her concrete path and, apart from being quite distraught, suffered severe bruising of her eyes and badly cut hands and grazed knees. Phillip and his team dialled emergency services and supported the lady for the half-hour before the ambulance arrived.
A RSA welfare officer contacted the Lower Hutt Service Centre, requesting the assistance of community work offenders to get an elderly man’s garden under control. Initially, the offenders could barely find their way amongst the tall foliage: only after substantial clearing of scrub did they discover the garden shed and a trailer! The 7-10 strong work team took 5-6 days to transform the space. Service Manager Bierne Gully-Davies spoke of the “lovely letter of thanks.” The other great news is that the area had been struggling with compliance issues. However these offenders kept returning to this particular job where they could see the distinct impact their time and energy was making in the garden.
Christchurch Community pulls together
A Whanau Ora Day was held in early May 2011 – the largest gathering since the Christchurch earthquake memorial service. The day was organised to provide a family day out from the stresses caused by the earthquakes, particularly for those in the eastern suburbs. Over 1,000 members of the community were fed by nine community work offenders and three Community Work Supervisors (Reuben Gent, Haaron Christie and Tito Pelenato) who prepared a hangi, pig on a spit, BBQ (with no less than 1,600 sausages), taro, chop-suey, and more!
The nine offenders were selected for their reliability and good behaviour. They wore chef's uniforms and hats, and happily worked well in excess of their required hours to get the job done.
Tania Mataki, Manager of Te Oranga Puna and key organiser of the Whanau Ora Day, officially thanked the offenders at a special afternoon tea. She praised them for getting the job done in such a helpful and professional manner.
Other events of the day included kapa haka, live music, basketball, along with face-painting, games and activities for the children.
Much of the food for the Whanau Ora Day was kindly donated by sponsors around Christchurch, Timaru and Dunedin. Potatoes, kumara, pumpkin and cabbages were all prepared the day before at the Taumutu Gardens, the community work project we covered in the April issue of Community Works. The gardens span 3.5 acres and also supply the Christchurch City Mission and local hapu with cabbage, lettuce, celery, beetroot and broccoli. Seedlings are donated on a fortnightly basis by local firm, Oderings and the Christchurch Prison Nursery.
Community work offenders report on a daily basis, their enthusiasm growing as the gardens develop. The forthcoming plan is to dig a kumara pit: 1.5 - 2 metres deep. It will be the first for many years, explains Tom Piahana, Senior Community Work Supervisor. “We are hoping to show offenders how it used to be done,” says Tom, who is planning the planting of over 1,000 kumara plants this year.
Visitors are welcome at these peaceful gardens in Taumutu, Leeston.
Encouraging kids to learn, explore and have fun
The Kaikoura Playcentre has a new outdoor area, thanks in part, to the 700 hours’ labour from Community Probation Services, along with thousands of hours of voluntary labour from local families and the Kaikoura Lions Club.
The playcentre, a family co-operative with about 32 children enjoying weekly sessions, has spent 14 months redeveloping the site. The children can now enjoy the new outdoor area with bike track, music area and sensory garden, which will encourage the littlies to explore, learn about their surroundings and at the same time have heaps of fun!
Along with new equipment like swings, mats and climbing equipment, a new entrance has been developed and a ramp built for better access.
Trees including natives and fruits have been planted and soft-fall woodchips spread under the climbing equipment. "It's really opened up the area and there's heaps more room for the children to play," says Playcentre Co-ordinator Darlene Morgan.
Playground officer Nicola Roberts praised Community Probation Services, which organised community work offenders to put time into the project. “I would just like to thank CPS for the great assistance that they have provided our community. You have some very dedicated staff in Kaikoura.
"I would estimate that they have provided us with around 700 combined hours of labour, which would equate to an extreme amount of money that our playcentre has managed to save," she said.
Around 15 offenders have spent time working on the project and “have learnt some valuable skills, and also come away with a sense of pride in what they have helped achieve for these kids”, says Kaikoura Probation Officer Tania Poharama.