Congratulations to our whānau at Northland Region Corrections Facility (NRCF), Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison (HBRP) and Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) for their success in the Arts Access Corrections Awards in this year’s Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards ceremony.
This is the fourth consecutive year that NRCF has won an Arts Access Award. This year the Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Award went to NRCF’s Redemption Performing Arts Whānau and Redemption Arts Tuakana Teina Mentors.
Down south, Rue-Jade Morgan, running the Te Hōkai Manea Programme at Otago Corrections Facility (OCF), has been awarded the Arts Access Corrections Māui Tikitiki ā Taranga Award 2020, for his leadership in sharing his skills and life experience as a former prisoner with others. The heartfelt feedback from the men in OCF is testament to the value of his work.
The Arts Access Māui Tikitiki a Taranga Award 2020, highly commended, went to HBRP Prison Director Leonie Aben for her outstanding commitment, innovation and leadership in driving the use of the arts and culture as a powerful rehabilitative tool, the standard of her art and education programmes strengthened through whanaungatanga, and her award-winning work in the Youth Unit.
National Commissioner Rachel Leota appeared virtually to present the one of the awards.
“At the heart of Hōkai Rangi is oranga or wellbeing and we know that culture and the arts are integral to wellbeing, particularly when creative self-expression is involved,” said Rachel.
“Even though NRCF has won awards before, the 2020 Whai Tikanga award is a first in that it has been directly awarded to the Redemption Arts and Tuakana Teina participants, for taking leadership roles and mentoring other prisoners, including during the COVID-19 lockdown period,” says NRCF Prison Director Mike Rongo.
“To win such a prestigious award is a fantastic achievement for NRCF and I wish to acknowledge the tireless work by Programme Director Beth Hill and her team, who are dedicated to unlocking potential and changing lives.”
Speaking on behalf of the NRCF Whai Tikanga Award recipients, *Marvel says, “We’re humbled by this award, but we also feel proud that our efforts are being recognised.”
The group of men received their trophy on Friday 16 October, at a whānau event at NRCF.
The Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Award acknowledges not only the creative efforts by the Redemption Arts participants, but also the peer mentoring undertaken by these men with fellow prisoners under the umbrella of the Tuakana Teina mentoring programme.
“The mentors do a six-week training course, after which they provide both group and one-to-one mentoring with other prisoners in a range of areas, including work skills, numeracy and literacy, tikanga Māori, and art, performance and music,” explains Programme Director of the Redemption Performing Arts and Education Programme Beth Hill.
The group works both collaboratively and autonomously, using the pillars of Corrections’ Hōkai Rangi strategy as guide for the work they create and the peer mentoring they do. According to the judges the positive impact of this group of men provides an example for other prison sites to follow.
During the Covid-19 lockdown period, for example, the Tuakana Teina mentors ran a site-wide art project called ‘Manaaki’. The initiative involved painting on A4 canvases, which have been sewn together to form a single artwork. This creation will be displayed in the external visitors’ area to welcome whānau when they arrive at NRCF.
This year’s Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards ceremony was moved online due to Covid-19. The event was livestreamed on Tuesday, but still can be viewed on the Arts Access Aotearoa website.