Community Works - May/June 2010
From the General Manager
If you are involved with a community project and you would like the help of one or more offenders serving community work sentences, it might be a good idea to become an agency. The agencies we work with are valued community partners who supervise offenders working alongside their organisation. If your project is in a rural area, far from one of our service centres, this might be a good way to get some help. And it would give offenders who live in your area the chance to make reparation in their own community.
We’ve recently increased the funding available to agencies to help cover the cost of providing community work placements from $500 to $1,000. This money can be used to buy the necessary equipment for the project such as overalls, cleaning supplies, tools, equipment and other items used by offenders working for the agency. An agency may also apply for funding towards a special project, or hire equipment that can be used by offenders during their work placement.
As you can read in this issue of Community Works Te Hana Te Ao Marama has just signed up as an approved community work agency. This means that carefully selected offenders will be sent out to help create a Mäori village under supervision of the Trust.
Please come and talk to us if you are thinking of becoming an agency. Our staff will be pleased to discuss the options with you. The details of the nearest CPS Service Centre can be found in the White Pages under the Department of Corrections (See C under the blue government department pages).
Community Probation Services
Bob Murray’s a winner!
Bob Murray of the Nelson Rail Society received the Nelson Community Spirit Award on Thursday 6 May.
Senior Community Work Supervisor Janine van Diepen nominated Bob for the award and she was very pleased to see him win. “Bob has been sponsoring community work teams for the last 10 years. Every week he supervises a team of about 10 offenders and he always makes sure there is enough for them to do.
“Bob never fails to have a range of jobs for the offenders such as ground maintenance, building, restoring old trains and track maintenance. These tasks help improve their work skills and attitude. Bob has certainly helped hundreds of offenders get themselves back on track... He is such a community spirit for us, he totally deserved to win!”
Giving Whangarei a paint-over
Whangarei hopes to be clear of most graffiti in the not too distant future. And community work teams are playing a major part in this. Not only are they helping to paint the district brand new, they will also check the cleaned areas to make sure Whangarei stays beautiful.
“We have seven community work teams out on the streets, that’s one each day,” says Service Manager Community Work Barbara Bailey of the Whangarei Service Centre. “Two supervisors go out with the offenders; one of them used to be a painter. The council has provided overalls for the offenders, T-shirts for the staff and paint. Initially it’s the same team going out every day but I hope to have an additional team after a while to keep the district graffiti-free.”
Barbara says that she has talked to the supervisors from the very start of the project. “It’s really important to have their input, especially in selecting the offenders who will be in the eye of the public as it has been in the news that our work parties are out there.”
Whangarei Community Safety Officer Dave Palmer of the Whangarei District Council says the partnership with Corrections is promising. “Up until May the graffiti was tackled by the D’Tag Team, which is part of Te Ora Hou youth services. But it has become too much for them to do alone. As graffiti is a community problem, I think it is fitting that Corrections took to the idea of working together. D’Tag will be clearing the graffiti, after which the offenders on community work start painting to make it look brand new again.”
Barbara says it also works in other ways. “If offenders have been taggers themselves, they might learn something from it too. When we get more teams going, we would like to send them to their own neighbourhoods so they develop a sense of pride.If they help make the area look new again, they might want it to stay clean.”
Dave explains that they are starting with places that attract tourists. “The first area to be cleared of graffiti is Tikipunga, home of the Whangarei Falls. Schools around the area have been asked to take pictures of the location before, during and after the cleaning as part of their photography project-work. That helps us update our council database so we will also be able to work together with the Police on tackling graffiti.”
In the August issue Community Works will report on how the project is going.
A mudhouse saved from cow licks!
Offenders on community work sentences in Blenheim have been helping restore a historic mudhouse that was built around 1860.
The mudhouse stands isolated on a farm in Bartlett’s Creek, just out of Blenheim. “My great-great-grandpa built it with the help of miners when they came to live in the area,” says Justice of the Peace Brian Powell who looks after this building for the Historic Places Trust. “For the last 60 years it has been empty but before that my family used to live in it. I can remember eating scones from the colonial oven,” Brian says.
Restoration of the mudhouse is well underway. “There used to be seven other mudhouses around here but they have all gone. Although this one did deteriorate, it didn’t fall down, probably because we fenced it off from the cows. The cows like to lick the salty walls, which completely destroys the house.”
Brian has taken it on himself to bring the mudhouse back to its former glory. And to help him get there, he asked skilled tradesmen on community work sentences to help out with building activities such as plastering, plumbing and painting. “This saves the Trust a lot of money and also gives offenders from around here the chance to make a difference to their community.”
Community Work Supervisor Brendan Aston used to live near the mudhouse and he kept an eye on the property. “After I moved away there was no one to look after the place and it fell apart. So I was happy to hear that offenders on community work sentences could help with the restoration. It’s great that community work teams are involved because it gives the offenders with skills a chance to make a contribution to a worthwhile project. And we get a lot of positive feedback from the public who visit the house.”
Gisborne community work parties have helped National Arboretum Eastwoodhill reach its centennial. For the last 20 years they have been creating and maintaining walking tracks throughout 135 hectares of park.
In 1910 Douglas Cook created the arboretum that is home to about 4,000 exotic and native trees, shrubs and climbing plants. Located 35 kilometres northwest of Gisborne, the park attracts about 10,000 visitors a year.
Visitors can walk through the whole area of Eastwoodhill. The tracks cater for all levels and are kept in good order by offenders serving community work sentences. Gisborne Service Manager Tim Marshall says that a team goes out there each week to maintain tracks and drains, cut wood and clear up. “In the weeks leading up to Easter we worked even harder than usual to tidy up Eastwoodhill for all the centennial festivities that were held that weekend.”
Seeing the wood through the trees
Earlier this year Eastwoodhill Arboretum Manager Maurice Hall paid tribute to the efforts of the community work supervisors and their teams at a morning tea hosted by the Gisborne Community Work Centre. “It’s something we try to do each year to acknowledge their support,” says Tim. “About 40 agencies and sponsors were present and we gained a couple of new jobs at marae and a health service as a result.
“When Maurice thanked us for all our good work at the park, Community Work Supervisor Tama Pohatu got a special mention and rightly so. He knows the place like the back of his hand!” says Tim.
The top islands in Lake Moananui are starting to look good again now the Tokoroa Community Work Centre has organised community work teams to plant flax, cabbage trees, kowhai and many other natives.
Lake Moananui is a man-made lake fed by a natural spring and the Matarawa stream that was dammed in the seventies. A large reserve has been established over the years with native trees, picnic tables and a children’s playground. Recently a concrete path
was constructed around the circumference of the lake. This has seen a noticeable increase in visitors.
Trout are regularly released into the lake so that children can fish for them. Although the local council administer the reserve, it seems that Jack Groos from Forest & Bird is the driving force behind it.
In the lake there are several islands varying in size from 20 to 250 square metres. Last year Jack requested assistance from the Tokoroa Community Work Centre to do some work on the islands. They first got rid of all the blackberry, willows and other ‘weeds’ that had overtaken the island.
Jack is pleased with what has been done. “The offenders worked very hard as the islands were completely covered with two metre high blackberries, not the easiest weed to get rid of. It was a tough challenge but we did it. We also constructed four bridges to connect the islands. I am impressed with the team’s work.
“In May 2010 we were ready for planting. This season we are going to plant about 800 trees. To make it attractive for people to visit, the community work teams are also going to install picnic tables and a gazebo as a shelter.
“We are hoping this area will become truly beautiful when all the native trees have grown. We hope Corrections will keep helping us to maintain the natives and keep fighting the blackberries and other weeds.”
Tai Tokerau getting ready for Rugby World Cup
The small town of Te Hana is set to become a major tourist destination next year. As the international visitors will probably want to take in some culture when they are here for the Rugby World Cup, Te Hana is replicating a 17th century Maori village. Community work teams are very busy helping to get it all ready in time.
Daily community work teams from both Dargaville and Whangarei go out to Te Hana Te Ao Marama (Te Hana means the New Dawning). “There is a lot of work to do,” says Assistant Area Manager Tony Hodgson. “The 17th century village is on State Highway 1 and only a 50-minute drive from Auckland, so we expect many tourists to come and visit.
“This project is large and unique in the Mäori tourism industry. On site is a nine-metre high fortified pa, fully trenched and complete with traditional whare or buildings. The village will contain an auditorium, a large café, kapa haka performance stages and a marae complex. A papakainga or living village will be built as well, with people undertaking traditional activities as they would have done hundreds of years ago. The village will provide many learning and training opportunities such as whakaaro (carving) and raranga (weaving).
“We have been involved since the beginning in 2002,” says Tony. “Everything has been done from scratch. We have cleared out and replanted the river bank which now sees native birds returning to the area. We have also helped with building activities and have harvested flax to thatch the roofs. There is still plenty of work to do such as harvesting manuka trees, landscaping and working on the marae and pa. I also hope that we will start work on a market garden.
“The garden could produce vegetables for the café and it would be a great idea to have community work teams help out with this. After completing it they would have an ongoing project to dig into. We have just signed up Te Hana Te Ao Marama as an approved community work agency. This will allow them to apply for agency funding to help buy the equipment needed for the garden.”
Tony is proud of the four service managers who are out there creating new projects for their community work teams. Michele Beazley, Julianne Epere, Lance Kennedy and Barbara Bailey are doing a great job securing projects such as the one at Te Hana or getting rid of graffiti in partnership with the Whangarei District Council.
“We also have good relationships with schools in the area and are making quite a name for ourselves in Tai Tokerau and next year hopefully even internationally!”