Rehabilitation programmes

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

Research has shown that re-offending is not reduced simply by incarcerating offenders, 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 offenders 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 prisoner return to the community – for instance parenting and practical life skills.


Motivational programmes

The short motivational programme is designed to improve offenders’ motivation to understand their offending and increase their interest in engaging with other interventions that will reduce their likelihood of reoffending.

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 offender motivation to address their offending needs.

Parenting skills programmes

Parenting skills programmes are designed to improve the parenting skills of prisoners 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.


Short intervention programme for child sex offenders

The short intervention programme is a 12-week intervention for low risk child sex offenders. Treatment for higher risk child sex offenders is available in special treatment units.

Psychological treatment

This one-on-one intervention primarily deals with high risk sexual and violent offenders. Psychologists provide specialist advice, assessment, and treatment to reduce an offender’s risk of re-offending.

Young offenders programme

The young offenders programme is a rehabilitative programme for prisoners under the age of 20 with a medium risk of re-offending. It teaches skills about how to change attitudes and behaviours.

Kowhiritanga (for female offenders)

Kowhiritanga is a group-based programme for female offenders 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 medium risk offenders and is delivered in Māori focus units nationally. It’s for male prisoners 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 male prisoners 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 male offenders 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 medium risk offenders who have completed their rehabilitation programme. It supports them to practice their new skills and attitudes so that they can lead offence free lives.

Specialist units offer other targeted programmes, for example for sexual or violent offenders.

Drug and alcohol interventions

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

  • ensuring that every prisoner with an identified drug and alcohol need has access to an appropriate treatment, regardless of location, risk, and sentence length
  • providing further help for prisoners 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 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 participant 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 prisoners 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 te 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.