A book of poetry, inspired during a three month drug treatment programme at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison, has surprised everyone involved by its creativity and spontaneity. The booklet, named Whanaungatanga – together as one, evolved in Te Po (the second stage of the drug treatment programme the men were on), from a 10 minute creative writing exercise. The short poems revealed pro-social ideas and positivity, surprising the group members and their facilitators on how far they have come.

The poetry booklet includes the work of the 12 group members, one mentor and the two Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga facilitators. Together they produced 27 poems, as well as 13 drawings and the booklet covers.

Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga is a provider of health, education and social services for Māori in Hawke’s Bay and works in the Drug Treatment Unit at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison.

“It was wonderful to see how the enthusiasm and commitment that the men invested in this project, working together towards a common goal, strengthened their relationships, and increased their creativity, confidence and mana,” says Valentina Teclici, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Senior AOD Practitioner.

At graduation on 9 May 2019, every graduate received two copies of the poetry booklet, a copy to keep and a copy to give to a loved one. A couple of graduates read their poems in front of the Therapeutic Community and their whānau.

Valentina says the booklet added to the men’s sense of achievement at the completion of the programme.


I arrived here quiet and shy,

and if you asked me, I couldn’t say why.

But now I’m two thirds in

You can’t help but see my grin.

As I slowly come out of my shell

I’m beginning to ring like a bell.

I’m no longer sad or feeling that bad.

In fact I’m feeling quite glad.