An official opening was held this week for the iwi-led reintegration accommodation and support service Te Whare Whakaruruhau o Raumanuka in Naenae, Lower Hutt.
The 26-bed service is one of the first initiatives to be established following the Tākai Here Agreement - a partnership agreement between Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa and Ara Poutama Aotearoa, which was signed in November last year.
Speaking at the opening, Minister of Corrections Hon Kelvin Davis reflected on how the Justice sector is working together with communities to support reintegration efforts and the critical importance of accommodation, coupled with the right support services in safely reducing the prison population.
“Some people are in prison simply because they have no place to live. That’s why the partnerships we have, like this one between Ngati Toa, Te Āti Awa and Corrections, to establish great accommodation service for people coming out of prison are so important.
“I talked to a man in prison who had been there most of his life. He said to me, he’d never been supermarket shopping and he had been given few opportunities to learn how to cook. We can’t expect people who have been institutionalised to succeed and live good lives without any support.”
Te Whare Whakaruruhau o Raumanuka has been delivered through the Housing and Support Services Programme in partnership with Kāinga Ora which owns the properties. It is a service that has been designed for Māori, by Māori with great support from our local staff.
“This kaupapa provides us an insight into our future as we look to work with communities in a truly purposeful way to support the outcomes that we are all committed to,” says DCE Māori Topia Rameka.
“A lot of people have been involved, it’s been a collective team effort across a number of our teams, working alongside iwi,” says Programme Manager Brent Reilly.
“Our staff involved did not have strong capability in te reo or significant experience with tikanga aspects, but they rolled up their sleeves and helped make this service a reality and this was acknowledged by the iwi at the opening who have since adopted our staff as part of their wider whānau.
“It’s also been really good to see the level of support from the community for this service. A key part of the reintegration journey is for men to learn to model good behaviour and be the best neighbour they can.”
Staff at Te Whare Whakaruruhau o Raumanuka will live on site, supporting residents with a range of navigational skills. A strong emphasis will be placed on reconnecting with whānau as well as Māori culture. It’s expected men will stay for between 6-12 months but can stay for as many as 18 months.
The first three men are expected to move in shortly. The service will scale up over the coming months.