A new option is now available for women in need of alcohol and other drug therapy in the South Island, with the opening of He Kete Oranga o te Mana Wahine. Translating as a women’s basket of wellness, the 10-bed residence in Christchurch provides a therapeutic programme for women in the justice system.

Previously, women in Christchurch Women’s Prison with alcohol or drug related needs had to transfer to Arohata Prison in Wellington. Women from the South Island requiring treatment in the community were required to travel to a North Island provider.

“Some women are reluctant to attend treatment in another area because of separation(L-R): Steve Jukes Executive Director Pathway Trust, Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis, Marion Tizzard Operations Manager of specialist services at Odyssey House, Nigel Loughton Director Odyssey House Trust Christchurch and Chief Executive Christine Stevenson with the opening of He Kete Oranga o te Mana Wahine. from visiting family members and their children,” says Project Manager Tom Hamilton from the High Impact Innovation Programme.

“As well as being the first of its kind in the South Island, this is also unique in that it caters for women in different stages of the justice pipeline. The house can be put forward as an accommodation option for women applying for bail or parole.”

The programme can accommodate up to 10 women on bail or parole.

Many women who offend are primary caregivers so engagement with whānau is central to the programme. Women will be supported to understand their substance use in the context of their psychosocial development. They will be supported to develop the skills and confidence to provide healthy futures for themselves and their children. After graduating from the programme, women will get help to find accommodation, employment and additional support in the community.

The house is provided by Pathway Trust and the therapeutic programme will be run by Odyssey House. Tom credits the three organisations’ aligned objectives with getting it off the ground.

“It has taken a great partnership between the three organisations to deliver this.”

The house was officially opened on 5 June 2019 with a ceremony attended by Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis and Chief Executive Christine Stevenson.

One of the rooms at He Kete Oranga o te Mana Wahine
The exterior.