From the General Manager's Office
Welcome to the first edition of CORRVolunteer for 2010. Three months of the year have already passed and it has been a busy period.
We are facing the challenge of securely housing increasing numbers of prisoners.
In recent months we have implemented increased double bunking at Northland Region Corrections Facility, Otago Corrections Facility and Spring Hill Corrections Facility. In the upcoming months New Zealand’s first prison unit made from modified shipping containers will be commissioned at Rimutaka. This will add a further 60 much needed beds to the prison system.
These measures are essential as Prison Services responds to some of the highest prisoner numbers the country has ever seen.
Our absolute priority is protecting the public, however we will not lose sight of the fact that most prisoners will be released back into the community at some point. To protect the public we therefore not only have to hold prisoners securely, we also have to work with them to reduce the risk of reoffending after their release.
We recognise that we aren’t at the front end of stopping crime and preventing prisoners coming through our doors, but it is our duty to work in partnership with community representatives, such as you and your organisations, to send as many prisoners as possible back into the community to lead a crime-free life.
Thank you again for your ongoing support.
General Manager Prison Services
Kaiwhakamana - A Jewel in the Crown
Raiha Ellis sees her role as a Kaiwhakamana as a way of connecting prisoners to whanau, hapu, iwi, spiritual and life issues.
Of great importance is their whakapapa (genealogy), introducing prisoners to a wairua or spiritual journey of themselves; of who they are and where they come from. This connection is of great importance as many go through life not knowing their roots.
Raiha Ellis hails from Ngapuhi in the North and Ngati Paoa of Hauraki. She has lived in the Wellington area for nine years and joined the parish of St Hilda’s in Upper Hutt when she arrived.
Through Pastoral Care Ministry, she developed a Prison Ministry with the Department of Corrections in 2002. When Kaiwhakamana were introduced in 2003 Raiha registered with the service and her journey began.
“We build trust, respect and rapport by creating a safe space for them to share and for the healing to begin. Kaiwhakamana can help people open their minds, hearts and doors,” says Raiha.
Initially the service of Kaiwhakamana was for Maori only. However through the work and attitude of people like Raiha it has extended to all prisoners, regardless of who they are and where they come from.
“The way I behave and connect with those around me, I am seen as a role model for prisoners. Our support, motivation and encouragement gives them hope and can facilitate change in their lives,” Raiha proudly says.
Ka pai ta koutou mahi
Rippa Tag at Rolleston Prison
Volunteers from Celebration Church held ‘rippa tag’ training sessions and practice games with prisoners at Rolleston Prison last November.
Rippa tag is a 7 a-side game with the same rules as rugby league but without the tackling. Players wear sticky ribbons on their shorts and the opposition must rip these off the opposition to complete a ‘tackle’.
Every unit put forward a team and 72 prisoners played the game. The volunteers spent time with each team teaching them the rules and tactics of the game before the practice matches.
The practice matches were a real learning curve for the prisoners, both the volunteers and prisoners enjoyed the training and the opportunity to talk with each other during and after the session. It was a great opportunity to get involved in some social activities to assist their reintegration.
Celebration Church is planning to return to Rolleston Prison in the coming months. They hope to have up to 15 volunteers so they can have standard 40 minute matches with each prison team.
Prison Fellowship New Zealand warmly invites you to attend their 2010 volunteer conferences.
The conferences are open to anyone who wants to know more about New Zealand Prisons and the opportunities for community involvement in prisons and with prisoners who are returning to the community on release.
There will be sessions for various interest groups, workshops to improve volunteer skills and a chance to share what works well for you as a prison volunteer. Those who wish to promote their services and programmes have an opportunity to do so on Saturday at lunchtime.
PFNZ 2010 Volunteer Conferences will be held at:
- Napier 16-17 April The Oasis Community Christian Centre
- Christchurch 7-8 May Horticultural Society Hall, South Hagley Park
Each Conference begins with a public meeting and discussion at 7pm on Friday evening led by the national directors of Prison Fellowship, New Zealand Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society and Prison Chaplaincy Service. It continues on Saturday from 8:30am until 5:30pm (local times may vary slightly). You can opt to attend Saturday only if this suits you.
Prison Arts Award
The presentation of the Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Leadership Award will take place late July.
The Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Leadership Award recognises the outstanding contribution of art tutors, prison staff, contractors and volunteers in the rehabilitation of prisoners through the arts.
The Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Leadership Award 2009 was awarded to Mark Lynds, Programme Manager Area Northland Region Corrections Facility and Auckland Prison.
Mark says: “Winning the Award the award simply brought some really positive press locally and nationally, two documentaries and a real step up in community awareness of the arts programmes in prisons. We now have two council commissions one for North Shore City and one coming for Northland, major exhibitions in the community and three school projects have come from the increased positive publicity.”
During March, CTV filmed a documentary on volunteering at Canterbury Prisons.
Raising the Bars focuses on the incredible volunteers assisting prisoners in their rehabilitation back into our communities. A big thank you to volunteers Carola Crawford and Pauline Garner who participated in the documentary. Raising the Bars will be aired in August or September. Viewing details will be provided closer to the time.
New Volunteer Brochure
We are pleased to have a new volunteer recruitment brochure for people wanting to find out more about volunteering in prisons.
The brochure provides a great snapshot of prison volunteering including what it takes to become a prison volunteer, what prison volunteers actually do and how the process to become a volunteer works.
If you know someone who is interested in volunteering and would like to know more, please contact your local volunteer coordinator for a brochure.