Rehabilitation programmes

We are trying to break the cycle of re-offending by identifying and working with people who are most likely to re-offend.

Research has shown that re-offending is not reduced simply by incarcerating people who offend, or by increasing the harshness of their sentences. However, well-designed and delivered programmes can have a real effect on re-offending.

What we do to rehabilitate offenders

To help people address their offending we assess them and provide programmes according to risk, need and their ability to be responsive to the programme.

Our programmes include focuses on motivation to change, cognitive-behavioural interventions and general skills to help a person return to the community – for instance parenting and practical life skills.


Motivational programmes

The short motivational programme is designed to improve a person's motivation to understand their offending and increase their interest in engaging with other interventions that will reduce their likelihood of re-offending.

Tikanga Māori

Tikanga Māori programmes are group-based programmes, delivered by Māori service providers that use Māori philosophy, values, knowledge and practices to foster the regeneration of Māori identity and values to encourage participants' motivation to address their offending needs.

Parenting skills programmes

Parenting skills programmes are designed to improve the parenting skills of people in prison and to increase their awareness of community networks that can support them with on-going parenting and family needs. The group-based programme helps develop pro-social values and behaviours required for good parenting.


Psychological treatment

This one-on-one intervention primarily deals with high risk sexual and violent offending. Psychologists provide specialist advice, assessment, and treatment to reduce participants' risk of re-offending.

Kowhiritanga (for women)

Kowhiritanga is a group-based programme for women with identified rehabilitation needs. It targets the attitudes and behaviours that contributed to their offending and teaches skills and new ways of thinking.

Mauri Tū Pae

A group-based programme Mauri Tū Pae (formerly known as the Māori therapeutic programme) is for people assessed as medium risk and is delivered in special focus units. It’s for men in prison with a range of offending needs and teaches prisoners skills to alter the thoughts, attitudes and behaviours that led to their offending.

Saili Matagi

Saili Matagi is a group-based programme delivered in the Pacific focus unit for men of Pasifika descent with a medium risk of re-offending who are serving a sentence for violent offences. It teaches a range of skills so that participants can change attitudes and behaviours and so reduce the likelihood of them re-offending. It involves family and community groups in the participants’ rehabilitation and reintegration.

Medium intensity rehabilitation programme

The medium intensity rehabilitation programme is for men with a medium risk of re-offending. It teaches participants new skills about how to alter the thoughts, attitudes and behaviour that led to their offending, and assists them to develop strategies for maintaining their positive changes.

Maintenance programme

Maintenance programmes are provided to people who pose a medium risk of re-offending who have completed their rehabilitation programme. It supports them to practise their new skills and attitudes so that they can lead offence-free lives.

Specialist units offer other targeted programmes, for example for people convicted of sexual or violent offences.

Drug and alcohol interventions

Until recently, drug and alcohol treatment in prisons has been available through dedicated drug treatment units. This meant many other people in prison were not having their alcohol or other drug problems met, so we’re implementing a comprehensive approach to addressing drug and alcohol needs for people in prison by:

  • ensuring that every person with an identified drug and alcohol need has access to an appropriate treatment, regardless of location, risk, and sentence length
  • providing further help for people whose motivation to address their drug and alcohol needs changes over time.

As a result of this comprehensive approach a range of interventions are now available in some prisons, and more will be implemented across the entire prison system by the end of 2014. These interventions are:

Screening and brief interventions

All prisoners entering prison will be screened for alcohol and drug problems. Depending on the results they will receive a brief intervention that will encourage them to engage in further treatment as required – either while in prison or the community.

Intensive treatment programme

The programme provides participants with the knowledge, attitudes and skills required to support them in recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction. The programme builds skills in relapse prevention, minimising harm and ability to build networks of support.

Drug treatment units

The aim of the drug treatment unit programme is to reduce re-offending by assisting programme participants to address their dependence on alcohol and other drugs. The units teach peoople about addiction, change, relapse and the effects of their actions upon others. This is done through group-based programmes in a therapeutic environment.


Hōkai Tapuwae

Hōkai Tapuwae is fully funded cultural intervention resulting in a report that discusses a person’s whakapapa and cultural identity, and presents their place within e Ao Māori. The report can be used by Probation Officers or Case Managers to support an individual’s rehabilitation or reintegration within the community. They can also provide a fuller picture of a person’s identity to the Parole Board.

To participate in the Hōkai Tapuwae process while residing in prison, the individual’s Case Manager will arrange for the intervention to take place and report produced. See our information sheet PDF, 171.5 KB for more details.