CorrVolunteer March 2012
From the General Manager's Office
Nau mai ki tenei putunga o CorrVolunteer.
In this issue we are celebrating some of our long serving volunteers along with a wonderful initiative to support the Canterbury Earthquake appeal.
As the anniversary of the February earthquake has just past we reflect on the impact that this has had on the community and the contribution that volunteers have made. For volunteers who lost loved ones, and have had to endure hardship our thoughts are with you.
This publication is one way in which we acknowledge the efforts of all our volunteers in supporting offenders in their pathway out of re offending and reintegration back into the community. This requires a multi-faceted approach and your local contact within RRS will guide you in how your time and efforts can be best matched to offender needs.
The services and activities that we provide are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are still relevant and well supported. Our Director Maori, Neil Campbell, is currently looking at the Kaiwhakamana role to ensure that we are supporting our Kaiwhakamana and to ensure that the offenders who would benefit from their wisdom are able to connect with them.
Thank you for all your ongoing support and Easter is nearly upon us so I wish you and your family a happy Easter.
Kia Kaha Ake
General Manager Rehabilitation and Reintegration Services
Whakaaro Ru Whenua: Art Auction in March
In response to a prisoners request to be able to give something back to Christchurch and the wider community in the wake of the earthquakes a project team was formed to collate artworks in the form of drawings, carvings and creative writing that would then be auctioned off early in 2012. Artists in all three Canterbury Prisons were involved.
Through consultation a title for the auction was selected: Whakaaro Ru Whenua “Thoughts about the earthquake”. The theme of the exhibition would be “Ka hanga rua te ao hou: mai i nga pereki tawhito” which translated reads “Recreate the new world; from the bricks of the old”.
The theme not only speaks about the rebuild of Canterbury in a physical sense but also about the prisoner’s own emotional journey toward rehabilitation. It emphasizes re-growth, rebuilding and new beginnings.
Volunteers across the region have mentored and supported some of our very talented artists to be able to express some of their thoughts and get them down on canvas. The artworks include acrylic paintings on canvas and larger carved/painted pieces on wood, sculptures in clay and paper, pencil drawings, and traditional and contemporary carvings that have been carved from wood donated from Christchurch’s red zone.
Volunteers will also be supporting the event auction day and if you would like to support this contact Volunteer Coordinator Tracey Smith (details on back of this newsletter).
Knitting a productive past-time
Knitting has become the norm for a group of 16 prisoners at New Plymouth Prison. Beanies, blanket squares and now the group have graduated on to slippers, created during a weekly workshop run by Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society volunteers.
Enthusiasm has grown so much, that now the men are knitting for hours in their cells in the evenings. The knitted items are then donated to the Taranaki Women’s Refuge and distributed to the women and children.
New Plymouth Prison Manager Peter Madsen says the idea of hardened prisoners knitting may seem at odds but the quality of their work is of a high standard. “The men used to slink into the group activity but have discovered there’s nothing feminine about it. It’s a craft that some are keen to pass on to their children.”
“The activity is a constructive use of time but it’s also helping to socialise them. They talk civilly while knitting and help each other out,” says Peter.
Taranaki Women’s Refuge Manager Janice Jessiman says that in many cases men are the perpetrators of family violence. “If by actively participating in producing useful items means that men want to give back to the community they may have hurt, then it can only be a good thing.”
Temple and Olive Isaacs (Uncle and Aunty as they've become affectionately known), have together dedicated over 80 years of volunteering to Corrections. The couple are now registered Kaiwhakamana and have been visiting prisoners from the East Coast/Gisborne region at Hawke's Bay Prison since the prison opened in 1989. However their work with offenders goes back many years before this; they would visit East Coast/Gisborne prisoners in Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, Waikeria and Auckland prisons.
Most of their work of recent years is following up released prisoners and assisting them and their families with reintegration.
The couple have recently received Queen’s Service Medals for their dedicated work. Congratulations and thank you both for your outstanding support.
Still going strong at 90!
Reaching the grand age of 90 doesn’t seem to have stopped Ben Carr from volunteering in the Canterbury region prisons. Ben’s career in volunteering began in 1978 with the Maori Evangelical Fellowship. Ben’s involvement with prison fellowship has been ongoing and he speaks of the highlights of his years volunteering in Canterbury. “One highlight for me was working with the ex-All Black Neven McEwan, when he became Prison Chaplain in the Manawatu, and establishing the Angel Tree Programme. The other thing that springs to mind was supporting one particular prisoner from Rolleston Prison back in the 1980s change his life completely….. the fellow is now married with two children and is the Pastor of a Church in Auckland!”
Many thanks, Ben, for your invaluable service in the Canterbury region.
Volunteer for 62 years dies
Ray Thurkington, a weekly volunteer at Auckland Prison for the past 62 years, has died, aged 95 years. Ray first visited prisoners in Wellington in 1946, and continued his voluntary work when he moved to Auckland 25 years ago.
Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment Kim Workman says Ray is remembered with a great deal of fondness by prisoners and prison staff. “He took a real interest in serious sex offenders, many of whom were serving very long sentences.
Ray would visit them weekly, providing support and encouragement ….many of the men were without family or visitors, so his time with them was always welcome… Ray became part of the furniture, so much so, that some staff thought he was on the payroll,” says Kim.
“Ray’s strong Christian conviction was consistent with his support of sex offenders who are often despised by the community. His commitment was unwavering, and he faced the challenge with courage and optimism,” recalled Kim.
Faith to share
Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility boasts having perhaps one of the oldest faith based volunteers on site! Eighty-three year old Jane Lys still spends an afternoon every week on site.
Volunteer Coordinator Francine Benefield says Jane and her friend and co-volunteer, Dominican Sister Joan Hardiman are a loved and honoured presence on the low security side of the prison. “The couple chat to mums and babies, prayerfully attending to any worries. They listen and they care about prisoners’ concerns.”
Jane’s main motivation for visiting the women is her strong belief in the transformative potential of Christian meditation to help in life’s difficult times. Jane teaches a simple method of Christian meditation and a group gather with her to pray in this way every week.
Of Jane’s advancing years, Francine says “Jane and her titanium knee joint handle the gate house and radio room with perfect equanimity!”
In May last year, Corrections launched our Strategic Plan, ‘Creating Lasting Change’ which is based around our four key priorities which we mentioned in our December newsletter.
These priorities demonstrate how Corrections will use strong leadership to improve public safety and reduce reoffending, whilst continuing to strive for providing better public value and showing fiscal responsibility.
An Expenditure Review was then launched in August last year with its aims taken directly from the Strategic Plan; and in particular the priority of providing better public value. Our review is also fully linked in with the Government’s assessment of all public sector spending.
Chief Executive Ray Smith is Chairman of the review steering committee along with other members of the senior management team. External members from Treasury, State Services Commission and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet also sit on the committee.
It is anticipated the review may take another few months to complete. We will keep you informed of developments.