Corrections News Mar-Apr 2013

Chief Executive's comments

Ray Smith CEOThis time last year in my column for Corrections News I spoke to you about the key priorities the Government had just announced, one of which was ‘bringing down the rate of re-offending’.

A year on, I’m pleased to say that Corrections has really embraced this priority. In the last 12 months we’ve developed a programme of work aimed at reducing re-offending by 25% by 2017, and this programme is already producing good results. In this month’s Corrections News you’ll learn more about how we’re tracking against this target and the types of interventions underway to turn people away from a life of crime.

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many individuals and groups who share our commitment to reducing re-offending. Although it’s true to say that we may share a common end goal, we don’t always agree about how to get there. But what I’m impressed by is how our different points of view can often lead to energetic and fascinating discussions on why people commit crime and how we can prevent it.

At one particular meeting I was at recently with some of Corrections’ key partners, there was a genuine interest in people getting to know each other’s area of speciality more so that they were able to work together.

In fact, as you can see in the following pages, Corrections is co-operating with other agencies and groups more than ever before. As well as nationwide programmes such as Joining Forces, which is an initiative to link up the Department of Corrections with NZ Police and Courts, our Corrections in Schools Team is taking their message to a new audience. We’re also involved in local initiatives such as the Tangata Ora Family Intervention Team (TOFIT) in Manukau and are welcoming insights from abroad, as can be seen with the recent cultural exchange where Ainu Japanese visitors came to Tongariro/Rangipo Prison.

I think all this activity is great. It bodes well for us being able to deliver even more through our shared commitment to reducing re-offending.

Ray Smith

Hawkes Bay opens Young Offenders Unit

Corrections Minister Hon Anne Tolley talks to young offenders in one of the classrooms in the Young Offenders' Unit.

On 21 February, Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley opened a Young Offenders' Unit at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison.

The 30-bed unit will house offenders under 20, and give them a structured day including education, vocational training and rehabilitation programmes. After the official opening, the Minister met several of the young offenders in one of the classrooms.

“While they are being punished for committing crimes we can give them the opportunity to turn their lives around, so that when they are released they are better-equipped to contribute to society, enter employment and be much less likely to re-offend. We will also be saving the taxpayer $96,000 a year for every offender who doesn’t return to prison,” said Mrs Tolley.

Better lives, safter communities and fewer victims 

Right now, 8,624 people are in prison and there are 32,175 community-based offenders. Their crimes inflict a huge economic and social cost on society. If we can reduce re-offending, then we reduce this cost to society and create better lives, safer communities and fewer victims.

We can do this two ways:

  • Reduce the risk of re-offending through successful rehabilitation and reintegration; and
  • Keep the public safe. If someone’s a risk to the community, we can put safeguards in place to reduce that risk. This is the protection side of our job, and includes security, monitoring, sharing information with other agencies, and making use of new technologies that makes this possible.

In 2012, the New Zealand Government set Better Public Services targets to reduce crime. Corrections’ commitment to this is the target of reducing re-offending by 25 percent by 2017. Six months on, Corrections has a comprehensive programme of work underway, which Chief Executive Ray Smith outlined when he met with key partners at the end of February.

Ray acknowledged the support of community groups, the Justice Sector and all those who work with Corrections. “Crime affects us all and that’s why it’s terrific to have you working with us. Together we can make New Zealand a better place to live.”

“To date we have reduced re-offending by nearly nine percent, so we’re on track to meet our target of 25 percent by 2017. This means we can expect 1,600 fewer offenders returning to Corrections each year.”

Some of the successful programmes and changes underway include:

  • Working prisons. All prisoners at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, Tongariro/Rangipo Prison and Rolleston Prison will participate in a 40 hour structured week based on what it would be like working fulltime in the community.
  • Education programmes for prisoners on remand or serving short sentences. These include Short Gains literacy and numeracy training and Work Ready, which teaches workplace skills such as communication, financial literacy and computer skills.
  • Updating the prison estate. Invercargill and Auckland prisons are being refurbished and there are plans for developments at Waikeria and Tongariro/Rangipo prisons. Wellington and New Plymouth Prisons are now closed, along with obsolete parts of Arohata, Rolleston, Tongariro/Rangipo and Waikeria prisons. The establishment of a reintegration centre at New Plymouth to support prisoners about to return to the community is progressing well.
  • New alcohol and drug interventions in prisons were introduced at Otago Corrections Facility and Auckland Regional Women’s Corrections Facility, with national rollout beginning last month. The new interventions allow us to better match offender needs with treatment options of varying intensity.
  • Expanded use of technology, e.g. selected prisons are using GPS technology for prisoners on temporary release, with 40 offenders on Release to Work using GPS monitoring by March 2013.
  • A pre-release unit has been established at Auckland Prison to prepare high risk prisoners for release into the community.

Further stakeholder meetings are being held around the country to provide updates on local initiatives. 

Research snapshot 

Corrections runs an extensive research programme that helps us build our knowledge about the best ways to manage and rehabilitate offenders. This includes regularly evaluating much of our work to ensure it’s as effective as possible. Here is a small selection of current work:

Better buildings, better offender management

Corrections has developed new building design elements for community probation sites to improve working conditions and enhance staff management of offenders – and early indications suggest the new features are working. Nine existing sites have been retro-fitted with elements such as highly visible interview rooms, CCTV, meeting rooms suitable for whanau engagement, and a ‘stand-byme button’ for receptionists.

There are also large, open reception areas – an important feature when, for example, rival gang members may find themselves waiting in the same space. Our Policy and Research Team is now evaluating some of the new probation buildings to find out the extent to which the design makes a difference, and to identify any issues. Any recommendations will then be considered for future probation buildings due for upgrades.

Keeping ‘fast cyclers’ out of prison

Some prisoners, who are referred to as ‘fast cyclers’ for this research, serve three or more prison sentences over a twelve month period. We’re determining the rehabilitation and reintegration needs of this group so we can break this cycle. This involves a file search (pre-sentence reports, Parole Board reports, andprobation and prison notes) to look at things such as: offending-related needs (alcohol or drug problems, violence, associates etc), family background, education, employment, accommodation, and previous rehabilitation assistance. Some offenders may also be interviewed.

Literacy and numeracy for all

We know that many prisoners have low levels of literacy and numeracy, but we need a better understanding of each individual so we can provide suitable programmes for everyone. We have started assessing new prisoners at six prisons using the Tertiary Education Commission's ‘snapshot tool’ to gather this information. We will assess 500 prisoners in order to make better decisions about education options. 

Ten out of ten for Christchurch welders

Ten out of ten prisoners from Christchurch Men’s Prison Engineering Workshop have passed their recent examinations and gained qualifications in welding.

Their qualifications include certificates in flux core welding, and success in the stainless steel dairy tube test. Both are highly sought after in the engineering industry.

For one of the ten, his new qualification means guaranteed employment on release, with near-certain jobs for two others and advanced prospects for the rest.

Workshop Instructors John Hewitson and Ian Clarke credit the 100 percent success to the work ethic and dedication of the prisoners, as well as the many hours of supervised practice and preparation.

“Ten out of ten passes is a huge achievement, and down to the ongoing practice and application of the prisoners, and sharing knowledge,” Ian says.

In addition to providing the Christchurch community with able workers, the workshop has assisted the rehabilitation of the prisoners. John describes the programme as a good mental and physical release for the prisoners, whose experience working with peers will aid them in the workplace and in the community.

The success of the prisoners is fundamental to another project in the Engineering Workshop; the repair and fabrication of skip bins. This work provides practical experience and helps provide bins for the continuing clean-up of quake-struck Christchurch.

 

Working together to prevent family violence 

By working more closely with Police and other agencies, staff at Manurewa community probation are preventing serious family violence.Half of the violent crime we see in New Zealand is family violence. Corrections is contributing to reducing family violence re-offending by working more closely with other agencies, such as the Police.

Corrections’ Manukau District has placed particular emphasis on this collaborative approach to preventing family violence; the Tangata Ora Family Intervention Team (TOFIT) was established in Manukau in July 2012 to enhance inter-agency information sharing and promote best practice for working with family violence cases.

The TOFIT Team works closely with Police family violence teams, and helps to ensure that all probation teams in Manukau have good family violence response processes.

This collaborative approach was put to good use recently, resulting in the prevention of a serious family violence incident. Manurewa community probation were alerted to an incident involving an offender assaulting his partner, through the shared Family Violence Inter-Agency Response System.

The TOFIT Team alerted the Police, and while the Police were out locating the offender, they liaised with the High Risk Response Team, NZ Parole Board and Court probation personnel to prepare an affidavit and temporary recall warrant. When apprehended, the offender admitted he was on his way to kill his partner.

The TOFIT team were at Manukau Court for the offender’s first appearance, ready to assist the Police prosecution service in ensuring he was returned to custody. This is just one example of the kind of critical case managed by the team. Their approach enables Police units to focus on victims’ safety and is contributing to reducing re-offending.

 


Spreading the 'Right Path' message to  young people

The ‘Corrections in Schools’ Team from Rimutaka Prison is now taking their ‘Right Path’ presentation to a new audience of Limited Service Volunteers.

The Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) programme is a six-week motivational and training programme for young people run by the New Zealand Defence Force on behalf of Work and Income.

The ‘Right Path’ presentation illustrates the reality of prison life, as well as the impact on the family of a loved one in prison. The presentation includes a video of a prisoner talking about how he was bullied at school and made the wrong choices which he now regrets.

The young LSVs are not necessarily at-risk of offending, but Work and Income LSV Co-ordinator Daljeet Singh says she believes they get a lot of value out of the visit by the Rimutaka Prison team.

“The real-life examples ring home to these young people. As they are at an age where they can make heated decisions on the spur of the moment, the presentation shows them where this could lead them. The LSV programme gives them time to think about changes they would like to make in their lives, so the ‘Right Path’ presentation fits well that,” she says.

The team have several presentations lined up to give the LSV groups in 2013 and welcome invitations from any youth groups or schools in the Wellington area.

 

Prison provides fresh start for mother and son

Former prisoner Nikita spoke to Corrections News two weeks before she was due to leave the Mothers and Babies Unit at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility (ARWCF). She chose to share her story to show how the unit made a difference to her and her baby son.

nullGiving birth to her third child while serving time turned out to be a real life-changing opportunity for a 23-year-old Kaitaia woman.

Nikita was heavily pregnant when she was imprisoned last year for a knife attack on her partner, the baby’s father. She gave birth to her son shortly after arriving at ARWCF. Despite her high security classification, Nikita was accepted into the Mothers and Babies Unit, where prisoners are supported to care for their children while they serve their time.

When Nikita gave birth, her application to join the unit hadn’t been finalised, so the newborn was removed. “When he got sent out it was the most devastating feeling I have ever experienced, second to losing my two girls on the outside. The day he left it felt like my heart  broke but I was determined not to give up on him.”

A day later, a multidisciplinary team (including Child, Youth and Family staff, her case manager, and Unit staff) approved her application and the two were reunited. Nikita says being in the unit was a privilege and made the bonding process much easier.

Doing time without her son would have been 'completely different', she says. “Having him here keeps my mind focused, looking forward and not back. You know these are the most precious moments in their life – eating their first food, crawling, smiles, and words.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity prison has provided me with, such as the chance to be a mum. I went to parenting classes and got help with managing my anger and other emotions, and budgeting advice to help me with my reintegration. A lot of it was commonsense but the training just helped to put it in mind again.”

With little outside support, Nikita says it was the staff and other mothers in the unit who helped her through.

“I saw my sentence not as punishment, but a journey of living and experiencing the true joy of being a mother without the outside influences.”

The Unit’s Residential Manager Kelly Puohotaua says the start of Nikita’s journey was quite turbulent. In November 2012, Nikita was exited from the unit. Her baby was taken out of prison and put into care. “She was very good with baby but her behaviour towards staff and other prisoners was unacceptable. She got the shock of her life. It really hurt, and we didn’t do it to hurt the baby or her, but to indicate to Nikita that there are consequences.”

Two weeks later, after some hard work on her behaviour and writing heartfelt submissions pleading for a second chance, Nikita and her son rejoined the unit until her release date. Kelly says Nikita is a good example of how the units support mothers to make positive change and bond with their children, while still holding the women accountable for their offending.

Now, with her sentence nearly complete, Nikita is looking forward to a new start. She plans to get home, settle down with her son, and work towards getting her daughters back into her care.

“Having that time to be in here, to prove myself with my son, is just going to do good things for me with my girls. I feel that I’m a much stronger and more level-headed person.”

Quick Facts

  • Corrections operates Mothers and Babies Units at ARWCF and at Christchurch Women’s Prison.
  • Mothers in the Unit can keep their children with them up to the age of two.
  • Since opening, ARWCF has had 19 mothers and babies through the unit. Four were exited from the Auckland programme; none for issues with parenting. Nikita is so far the only mother to rejoin the unit.

Pitching in for softball 

 Rosedale Park in Auckland will be spick and span for the World Softball Champs thanks to prisoners and offenders on community work sentences.Offenders serving both prison and community-based sentences have helped to get Rosedale Park on Auckland’s North Shore ready for the ISF World Softball Championships in March 2013.

Prison have spent months constructing dugouts, while community work parties of eight to ten offenders have also done a range of tasks, including cleaning, sanding, and painting.

Diane Groom, Operations Officer for North Harbour Softball, has praised the role of Corrections and the workers.

“We are absolutely blown away by the work Corrections have done here at Rosedale…The building looks phenomenal.”

Corrections Northern Region Manager of Offender Employment Colin Rose says the prisoners have contributed to every stage of the dugout creation.

“They have all expressed gratitude for this opportunity and have shown through their performance their willingness to do the work and contribute to a successful outcome.”

The prisoners have already completed their National Certificates in Core Concrete Skills, and the work done at the Park will contribute to practical components of a Building and Constructing Industry Training Organisation concrete skills and welding qualification.

Community Work Supervisor Colin Jones also stresses the importance of work in helping to rehabilitate the community based offenders.

“It keeps them busy. A lot of the problems these guys have had come from boredom. The work gives them something to do… It’s been a big project and a rewarding experience.”

 

Prisons give veges to people in need 

Prisoners around the country are giving back to their communities with prison-grown vegetables.

At Spring Hill Corrections Facility, under the supervison of Corrections Officer Phil McEvoy, the Drug Treatment Unit and Special Treatment Unit donate the vegetables grown in their gardens to food banks and to the District Information Centre in Te Kauwhata for distribution.

The Spring Hill veges are especially luxuriant thanks to the compost system they’re using which has the added benefit of helping the prison dispose of organic waste cheaply.

At Rimutaka Prison, five units are growing and donating vegetables. The initiative is supported by one of our kaiwhakamana (approved Mäori visitors), Raiha Ellis, who collects the vegetables and takes them to a local marae and food banks.

Principal Corrections Officer Tracy Wells, who supports the vege-growing in Unit 6 at Rimutaka Prison, plans to extend the gardens by a thousand square metres.

“We’ve got the space and it’s a win/win initiative; hungry people in the community get healthy veges, and the prisoners are learning skills they can use on release to support their own families,” she says.

Other prisons around the country are also growing and donating – for example, in one day alone, Tongariro/Rangipo Prison gave 110 kilograms of potatoes, six kilograms of carrots, and three kilograms of beans to Turangi Food Bank.

 

Joining Forces 

Lower North Regional Manager Karen Petrie and Inspector Blair Telford at the site of the shared PoliceA new Police station being built in New Plymouth, with dedicated space to house Corrections prisoners, is one of the latest examples of cross-sector innovations sponsored by Joining Forces.

The Joining Forces programme was established in November 2011 to identify opportunities to create greater efficiencies between the work of Corrections, Police and Courts.

The new, three-storey station was originally designed to accommodate Police on two floors, with extra space for future-proofing. However, when the decision was made to close New Plymouth Prison due to its age and condition, the station design was amended to include a Corrections remand facility with 12 double-bunked cells.

Without a prison in New Plymouth, remand prisoners with court appearances in the city would need to be transported daily between New Plymouth and Whanganui Prison, a trip of more than two hours each way.

Corrections Lower North Regional Manager Karen Petrie says, “This is a great opportunity for Police and Corrections to work together and gain efficiencies for both organisations.

“The availability of secure accommodation for prisoners in New Plymouth means greater public safety and greater savings to  taxpayers.” "There's so much overlap between Police and Corrections in terms of prisoner management that it just made sense to share some facilities and infrastructure," says Inspector Blair Telford, New Plymouth Area Commander.

"Why do we need two receiving areas, two holding cells, two meal rooms and so on? Why not incorporate Corrections into our building?"
Staff from Police and Corrections are now planning the operational detail of processing and managing prisoners in the new building, which is due to officially open in August.

 

Volunteers 

In this issue we present two volunteers doing great work in our prisons.

Knit-a-square

Natalie Frauestein with knitted squares.Volunteer Natalie Frauestein, originally from South Africa, had the idea to teach prisoners at Rolleston Prison how to knit. Not only is it a therapeutic and calming activity for the men, but they are benefiting AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe.

Natalie suggested that the men could knit squares, a good place to start when teaching people how to knit. These squares are sent to South Africa for the Knit-a-square charity and are sewn together to make blankets for orphans.

Natalie says the men have taken to knitting with a passion. “The activity gives the men focus and fulfillment and promotes calmness.”

Since they started knitting late last year, the men have knitted so many squares that they have sent two large parcels to South Africa. Their next project is to knit beanies, jerseys and toys.

If anyone has any wool lying around at home that they are not using and would like to donate to a worthwhile cause, they can contact Regional Volunteer Coordinator Brett Drewitt on (03) 345 6443 or brett.drewitt@corrections.govt.nz.

Hip hop/rap song writing

Anaru BinghamA rap writing workshop targeted at under 25s was delivered by Volunteer Anaru Bingham. Two workshops were delivered over four weeks to small groups of six offenders. Anaru, who has been volunteering at Spring Hill Corrections Facility for two years, willingly
responded to a request for volunteers to deliver constructive activities on site.

“I have been writing and recording rap music for four years, have completed two solo projects and plan to do a collective group project this year.” Anaru says he enjoys seeing individuals grow and believes writing music can be therapeutic. “Sometimes sharing how
you feel eases stress levels.”

Anaru went to the prison in the evenings, after his paid work, to deliver the programme. “The men learnt to share their thoughts in public while learning different language techniques like similes and metaphors. The group wrote a song together which required them to interact with one another regardless of what gang they belonged to while adding their verse to the mix – which placed a certain expectation upon them to keep the song quality high.”

Central Region Volunteer Co-ordinator Francine Benefield says there were three rules that were reinforced throughout the programme – respect, no gang talk and no swearing.

“From the outset the offenders were excellent to work with and were very respectful. Their challenge was excluding gang language and swearing from the rap,” she says.

“It was a powerful experience to witness a group of men from different backgrounds work together, focus, engage, write, speak and show respect to each other, and the volunteer, through the medium of rap. Rap is something most under 25s are familiar with and the process helped them improve their literacy, communication and social interaction,” says Francine.

“Working with such wonderful volunteers who represent the community is a privilege and it is very humbling to know that such a successful pilot was put together by a volunteer who was willing to give up his own time to make a difference.”

Interested in volunteering at Corrections? Visit our website www.corrections.govt.nz and go to – Community Assistance –Volunteering for Corrections

 

New probation service centre for Kapiti 

Minister of Corrections Hon Anne Tolley opening Kapiti Service Centre.

On 1 February, Minister of Corrections Hon Anne Tolley opened the new Kapiti Service Centre. Our 14 Kapiti staff manage around 220 offenders a year, 90 of whom are on community work.

The new premises include a purpose built Community Work Centre, room for onsite training, meetings and programmes, an audio/video unit and enhanced safety provisions for staff with CCTV and glass interview rooms. Probation staff work with a wide range of people – from first time offenders doing community work through to high-risk offenders coming out of prison on parole after serving very long  sentences. The new service centre brings the total number of service centres nationwide to 80.

 

Five year annivesary for Karaka

(Left to right) Cultural Supervisor Lawrence Jensen, Care New Zealand Clinical Manager Cat Siely, Principal Psychologist Paul Whitehead, Art Tutor Ann Byford, and Principal Corrections Officer Bob McFarland.On 12 February Karaka Special Treatment Unit at Waikeria Prison celebrated its fifth anniversary of delivering high intensity programmes for high risk violent and sexual offenders, including drug and alcohol treatments.

The celebration took the form of an unveiling of five paintings done by prisoners, representing the five therapeutic community principles the men strive to live by in the unit; respect, responsibility, commitment, honesty and trust.

 

Minister's Column 

Hon. Anne Tolley Minister of CorrectionsIt’s been a great start to the year for Corrections, with many new and exciting announcements – and the promise of many more to come throughout the year.

Everything that is underway is going to help Corrections deliver on the Better Public Service targets of a reduction in re-offending of 25 per cent by 2017 – and with it, 18,500 fewer victims of crime every year.

So this work is extremely important, and I want to thank Corrections staff for their hard work and enthusiasm.

Education can’t be underestimated in helping offenders turn their lives around, which is why the signing of a partnership with the Open Polytechnic was so welcome.

As a result, two thousand prisoners and community offenders will be enrolled in an education programme leading to NCEA qualifications over the next two years. And this is on top of current education initiatives.

If offenders have access to an education while inside the wire, or just after release into the community, they can learn literacy and numeracy skills and earn qualifications, which will help them hold down jobs and make a positive contribution to society, instead of returning to crime.

Twenty hours of education a week will also support the structured daily lives of under 20s at the newly refurbished Young Offenders Unit at Hawke’s Bay Prison. It was a pleasure to attend the recent re-opening and speak to the enthusiastic staff.

Partnerships with communities and other agencies are vital in reducing re-offending, and when I opened the new $22 million facility in Christchurch which will house Police and Corrections Southern management team under one roof, everyone agreed that the new collaborative approach has fantastic potential.

I’m also pleased that officers in prisons will now have clearer procedures and a safer and healthier workplace, after the Corrections Amendment Bill passed its third reading in Parliament.

This will improve drug testing and searching procedures in prisons, and strengthen contraband regulations, to make tobacco and smoking items illegal on prison grounds.

My thanks to everyone at the prisons and probation centres that I have visited over the past few weeks. I look forward to talking again with you soon.

Hon. Anne Tolley
Minister of Corrections

 

Ambitious interns get a foot in the door 

Corrections has just completed a Summer Internship programme, in which students were given full-time work over the summer in various roles and teams within Corrections.

The programme, now in its second year, employed 17 interns; 16 at National Office in Wellington and one in Whanganui. This intake was a marked increase from last summer, in which only five interns participated.

The interns were from a wide range of disciplines, including Arts, Science and Commerce, and ranged from third year undergraduates to PhD students.

They did a wide array of tasks in groups ranging from Legal Services and Probation to Psychological Services and Communications.

Intern Mary Corkery stepped up to lead a team of six interns in Property. She says the internship had been a ‘challenging but fun’ experience, and one that has heightened her interest to build a career in the public sector.

Senior HR Adviser Sarah Kirkland, who is closely involved with the programme, describes feedback from team leaders regarding the interns as ‘fantastic’.

“We try to give the interns meaningful work in which they can apply their learnings," Sarah says. “It’s about giving them valuable experience.”

Sarah says there will always be space for young ambition at Corrections.

“The interns bring youthful energy and ideas, and I look forward to the next Summer Intern Programme.”

 

Ainu visit to Maori Focus Unit 

Ainu visitors in traditional dress at a cultural exchange visit to Tongariro/Rangipo Prison.A visit in January by a Japanese ethnic minority group, the Ainu people, was a learning experience for both visitors and hosts at Tongariro/Rangipo Prison’s Maori Focus Unit (MFU).

The MFU visit was part of a month-long trip to New Zealand by the Ainu to understand how our indigenous people, the Maori, have managed to preserve their language and culture.

Ainu are the indigenous people of Japan, but were only officially recognised as an indigenous people in 2008 after a prolonged government policy of ‘assimilation’. The Ainu people share a similar history to the Maori of being colonised, having their land forcibly acquired, losing their language and cultural identity and being discriminated against in their own country.

Maori Services Central Area Adviser Danny Morehu hosted the Ainu delegation during their time in Tuwharetoa. He says the reciprocal benefits for the men at the MFU were evident; meeting other indigenous people gave the men insight into their own culture.

A week before the visit Danny spoke with the men and staff in the unit to introduce the Ainu journey and the purpose of their visit to Aotearoa.

“That really set the scene, they were buzzing! One of the programme providers had been to Japan with a cultural group and knew a Japanese waiata. In a short time he taught the men this song and they performed to the visitors, to their amazement!”

“The welcoming powhiri by the MFU men was powerful as always. But it was especially mind-blowing for the visitors to be in front of 60 prisoners performing this welcome without any bars between the two groups. This openness highlighted to them the New Zealand focus on rehabilitation and reintegration rather than a more punitive system.”

Danny says you could ‘hear a pin drop’ during a session where the Ainu visitors talked about their journey and the challenges they face learning who they are as a people. “Many of our Maori men in prison have similar experiences, including struggling with acceptance back into a community.”

Residential Manager Pat Isherwood says the men talked of nothing else after the visit; “they were blown away by the experience of  meeting a people who have such a strong resemblance with their own cultural identity,” says Pat.