Community Works - February 2010
From the General Manager's Office
Becoming a sponsor for offenders serving community work sentences can be a very rewarding thing to do, as Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn discovered. He decided to sponsor a carving because he thought it was a great way for a particular offender to make reparation to the community.
As you can read on the front page of this issue of Community Works it all worked out well in Greymouth. Community work sentences can cover all kinds of activities provided those activities involve ‘giving back to the community.’ Another example is an offender who fixed toys for the library in Te Puke.
We are pleased that the Department of Conservation is providing our community work teams with so much to do. It benefits everyone; the offenders who serve their sentence time in a positive and constructive manner and undertake some very hard work that will particularly benefit schools and nature lovers.
We would like to hear from you if you know of a project where community work parties could play a part. 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).
Community Probation & Psychological Services
Carving a sentence
Greymouth High School has benefited from an offender serving his community work sentence. Out of a pohutukawa stump he has created a sculpture: a stack of books, a quill and ink.
Greymouth District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn asked to be sponsor of this project. Senior Community Work Supervisor Karen Wafer says, “Our mayor knew that the offender is a talented carver. So he thought that creating a beautiful work of art at Greymouth High School would be the perfect type of community work sentence for him. He also felt it would benefit the Greymouth community.
The pohutukawa had been cut down because the tree top was dying. It was one of 30 trees lining the main access into Greymouth. The remaining stump was still one and a half metres high so gave the offender more than enough wood to work on.
“Watching the carving unfold was exciting,” says Karen. “It’s a really good type of community work sentence as the offender got the chance to give something beautiful and everlasting back to the town! And Tony is very happy with the result.
“The carving has huge public interest,” says Tony. “recycling the stump has improved the image of the area and complements the school that is straight across the road. The carving helps beautify the environment and adds interest to the town.”
Painting the town
Corrections has received praise for painting curbs in the Pahiatua area. Feilding Senior Community Work Supervisor Barry Watson was pleased to hear from Chief Fire Officer Peter Davies that “this job has refreshed the whole town’s main strip. It is looking so much better!”
Peter’s praise follows the thanks received from Cynthia Cass from Pahiatua On Track: “We cannot stress enough that the work by your Department was superb. We would have no hesitation in using you in the future for any community work that may be required in this town.”
The community work parties have something lined up already. The playground in the back of the photo is up next for a fresh lick of paint.
In anticipation of the new community work centre later this year, Barry is already stationed in nearby Feilding. He works closely with the team in Palmerston North. Together they take care of community work projects in Palmerston North, Manawatu and the Tararua District.
54 Kimbolton Road
PO Box 248
(06) 324 0731
DOC provides positive working environment
In Tauranga about 80 offenders on community work sentences are working hard on projects for the Department of Conservation (DOC). Thanks to the efforts of 10 community work teams the Kaituna Wildlife Management Reserve will slowly turn into a native paradise again.
DOC in Tauranga is very positive about their relationship with community work teams. Ranger Steve Tempero says, “The quality of their work exceeds some of our contractors’ work. I get on very well with the supervisors and admire Community Work Supervisor Keith Silvester especially, as he has got excellent bush skills. He passes his knowledge on to the other supervisors who do projects for DOC.”
Tauranga Community Work Service Manager Mark Nijssen says, “We do a lot of projects for DOC. An example of one we have just finished is the Kaimai Summit Restoration Project. We cleared hundreds of kilometres of tracks, got rid of weeds, cut new tracks and also created some steps.
“The wetlands are another priority for DOC because only one percent of all the original Bay of Plenty wetlands is left. The Kaituna Wildlife Management Reserve suffers from invasive pest plants like the Japanese honeysuckle. The community work teams will clear these pests and we will also help to construct jetties. It will probably take us a couple of years at least to do all that.
“We love doing projects for DOC as they provide a really positive environment. The offenders get to learn lots of things they never knew before. I was talking to one of the offenders last week. He told me that seeing the results was very motivating and that it was a first for him to see something through from start to finish.”
“Our community work supervisors are all very inspiring people so it’s no surprise that they can help turn peoples’ lives around and gain respect for nature. They have a great affiliation for the bush and that helps too,” says Mark.
Each week Ranger Steve works with at least 40 offenders on community work sentences. “Sometimes I feel like I work for Corrections and at other times I feel like I’m a social worker,” he says. “What I’ve noticed in the two years I have been doing this, is that it’s very important to talk to the offenders so that you can give them an understanding and a goal. Every morning I talk about how what we do is about giving something back to the community and is also helping new generations get an understanding of nature. Once you’ve created a bond with them, I find they work really hard and even do more hours than they have to.
“Most offenders have never been in the bush or had a regular job. They start to feel good after a hard days work and after I train them to use small machinery they have got a sense of achievement and are quite proud of themselves. Quite a few guys are looking at training courses on how to become a ranger, which is brilliant!”
Toys and bubbles
Waiting for council consent to paint a mural outside the Toy Library in Te Puke has proved lucrative for the library. In the meantime they were able to ask an offender on a community work sentence to fix the library’s old and broken toys.
Senior Community Work Supervisor Matt MacMillan says that his main focus was on the outside of the library when he asked Te Puke Toy Library if they wanted a community work team to do some work. “The wall was covered with grey paint. We were asked to improve this with some kind of mural, so it won’t look so much like a blank canvas waiting for taggers. We will probably paint two or three colourful bubbles on them - something that appeals to children.”
Toy Librarian Evelyn Te Ngahue is pleased with the offender’s work: “He fixed a couple of ride on cars such as the fire engine, which was just standing in a corner going nowhere. It’s great to see the kids use them again. This helped us save the library money and my time to get those toys fixed.”
Sponsors can be sponsored too
If you are a community group that uses bush-clearing equipment or other tools, don’t let the cost of equipment stand in the way of becoming a community work agency. If you are willing to provide supervision and suitable work for a community work offender, you may be eligible for special funding for the equipment or other support you need to get your agency placement off the ground.
For more information contact your nearest CPPS service centre under Corrections in the blue section of the White Pages.
Digging up the past
Saving a historic orchard in Otago not only provided a good opportunity for community work teams to get their teeth into, it also helped the Gibbston Community Association win the 2009 New Zealand Archaeological Association Public Award.
Chair Susan Stevens says that as the Public Archaeological Award is only presented every two years, it was quite exciting to come up number one. “It is a good project. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised as it is pretty special to restore a pre-1900 orchard with heritage fruit trees,” says Susan. “We not only worked together with Corrections Central Otago Community Probation Service but also with the Department of Conservation and NZ Historic Places Trust to rescue the trees and stone structures at the site. The orchard and early gold-mining settlement along the Gibbston River Trail had been covered with invading plants.”
In November 2009 the community work team finished clearing all of the briar, broom, sycamores and other vegetation. This took about a year. “Hopefully the orchard of plums, cherries, almonds, pears and hazelnuts will start to thrive again,” says Susan. “Some trees were lost before we could get to them and others had nearly surrendered to the invading plants but hopefully with a bit of some further TLC we can help the trees rejuvenate.
When the area was cleared, community work parties continued to be involved in composting the orchard trees and sowing grass seeds. They even cleared gorse to reveal an old flying fox.
“This work ensures that the heritage values are preserved for the future. When we’ve finished raising the necessary funds, people will be able to read about the site and its value on a sign in the orchard. Picnic tables will provide seating so that people do not have to sit on the stone ruins and cause further damage to the structures.”
“The site is currently used by local rafting companies, independent kayakers, campers and day visitors,” says Susan. “Some have been coming for years. Now the orchard’s done up. we expect even more people will visit it, especially as it’s along the Gibbston River Trail which has also been developed with the help of community work teams. They have been doing some great work here!