Your pathway to change - living offence free

You can expect us to...We expect you to...
Listen to youStop offending
Treat you with respectTreat others with respect
Help you work out what you need to live offence freeTake responsibility for your actions
Help you stay connected with the people who support youMake use of the opportunities you have to learn new skills
Be clear when we communicate with youTry to find a job that will help you and your family/whānau
Hold people to account for their actionsTell us when something is not right
Not tolerate violenceNever use violence

Your Pathway to Change

Your time in prison can be a chance to think about what led you here, and what skills you could learn that would help you change and live a better life.

When you arrive in prison we will work with you to plan your pathway to change. Your case manager will start by seeing what you need help with (for example, support to get off drugs or alcohol). Then they will find the best programmes or services to support you.

Your plan will help you use your time in prison to gain the skills to live offence free.

Learning in prison

We want to help you learn while you are here. Getting qualifications and skills will help you to find a job and live offence free after you leave.

You can learn basic maths and reading or get recognised trade qualifications. You might learn from tutors in classrooms or in hands-on work experience. We’ll help you get the skills
that employers value.

Assessment and planning

You will be invited to do a reading and maths skills assessment. We’ll then work with you to make an education and training plan so that you can work towards a job you are interested in.


We have programmes to build reading and maths skills to help you prepare for further study and employment. We also offer courses, including computer skills and drivers licence courses. We can help you access education, including NCEA, through the Open Polytechnic, Open Wananga, and Te Kura – The Correspondence School. You can complete a
range of nationally recognised qualifications, including qualifications in Te Reo and tikanga Māori.

We also deliver a number of trades training qualifications in prison, such as plumbing, horticulture, and carpentry.

Talk to you case manager to find out more.

On the job learning

On the job learning will increase your skills and help you get and keep a job upon release.

Instructors at some prisons give training and work experience in:

  • mechanical engineering
  • painting
  • distribution
  • hospitality
  • laundry
  • farming
  • forestry
  • joinery
  • timber processing
  • …and more!

Talk to your case manager about what you could do at your site.

Most employment and training activities happen in the prison, but if you are sentenced and low security you might be able to join a work party that goes outside the prison.

Release to Work

When you are nearing release, you might also be able to go on ‘Release to Work’, which means you go to work for an employer and earn wages, but you have to return to prison at the end of each work shift. This could help you get a job when you are released.

Pre-release Centres and Job Clubs

These centres can also help you prepare for your return to the community before you are released.

In some places there are also service providers who can help you find and keep a job after release – your case manager will know if there is a provider or pre-release centre near you.

Keeping you healthy

Health centre staff are here to support you with any health concerns you have. We offer you a service similar to your local doctor.

This includes:

  • assessing your health needs when you arrive in prison
  • referring you to special hospital services if needed
  • attending to any urgent health needs you may have
  • providing a dental service
  • providing clinics where you can come to have your specific health needs met
  • providing advice and support about how to improve and maintain good health
  • supporting you to stay smokefree.

You can contact us by filling in a Health Request Form, or if it is urgent talk to a corrections officer who can contact Health for you.

Helping you with alcohol and drug issues

If you think alcohol or drugs have played a part in your coming to prison, then talk to a corrections officer, your case manager or health staff about your options.

There are a range of programmes available depending on how much of a problem alcohol or drugs are for you. For example, there are short programmes for people who are unsure if drugs/alcohol are a problem and want to find out more, and there are longer programmes, e.g. Drug Treatment Units (DTUs) and Intensive Treatment Programmes.

Programmes to help you change

How we think affects how we behave. Rehabilitation programmes teach you skills to help change your thinking and your behaviour.

Our programmes can be short (around six sessions) or longer (around nine months). Some programmes aim to motivate you, while others help you to change long-term behaviour.

You usually work in a group with other people who have similar issues so you can support each other. Our experienced and caring staff will support you to make positive changes.

We offer programmes to support you with:

  • stopping violence
  • gambling
  • relationship difficulties
  • sexual offending
  • budgeting, managing a house, and helping your children’s education
  • attitudes – looking at the reasons why you offended and learning a new attitude that will help you lead a better life.

Your case manager will talk to you about the best programmes for you.

[Click on image to see full-size version.]

Pathway to change diagram

Support for Māori

We offer programmes and services designed for Māori.

Using tikanga Māori (Māori culture, beliefs and values) we can help you strengthen your cultural identity and make positive changes for you and your whānau.

Options for Māori include:

  • Some prisons offer a specialist cultural assessment to remind you of your cultural strengths and knowledge
  • Our Māori Focus Units (MFUs) let you live in a tikanga Māori environment while you strengthen your cultural values, and take part in rehabilitation programmes (such as drug and
    alcohol treatment), and work towards qualifications.
  • We work closely with you and your whānau, so you will have new paths to follow.
  • We offer some short programmes to connect you with tikanga Māori and give you some life skills.
  • If you are near release, a Whare Oranga Ake reintegration unit or Tiaki Tangata Reintegration Service is available at some prisons and can help you get into training or find work. You’ll also get support to find somewhere to live, and connect with whānau or community groups before you leave.

Your support people include kaiwhakamana (kaumatua/elders) and kaitiaki (available at some prisons) who can come from the community to offer you spiritual and cultural support.

Talk to a corrections officer or your case manager if you want to know more.

Support for Pacific Peoples

If you are tagata Pasefika, we have programmes based on your cultural values and principles to help you while you are here.

The Pacific Focus Unit, or Vaka Fa’aola, offers a programme tailored to island cultures including Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Fijian, Cook Island and Tokelauan. Outside the Vaka Fa’aola, we have other programmes that use Pacific values and traditions to help you learn a new way of living.

Your support people include Fautua Pasefika who can come into the prison to provide cultural or spiritual guidance and support reconnection with your extended family.

We have many other programmes and activities that support Māori and Pacific customs and traditions.

Talk to a corrections officer or your case manager if you want to know more.

Getting out of prison

Thinking about life when you get out of prison can be exciting, but overwhelming. You may have questions about where you will live, finding work and managing money.

While you are here, you can get support from a range of service providers or volunteers, who can help you find a place to live, a job, and support in the community. Talk to your case
manager about which services are best for you.

When you leave prison your probation officer will carry on the work you have done with your case manager in planning how you are going to live offence free, as well as getting you the support you need.

'Out of Gate'

If you’re serving a sentence of two years or less, then our ‘Out of Gate’ service can help you when you are released. Leaving prison can be hard if you don’t have people to support you on the outside. An ‘Out of Gate’ navigator will help you find a job and a place to live, and get other support.

On-going employment

These services can help you keep a job after release by providing ‘in-work’ support. Talk to your case manager about what options are available in your area.

Whānau/community support

We want you to stay in touch with your family/whānau, or key support people – after all, they will be important in supporting you when you are released.

Your family may also need help or advice while you are in prison and once you are released. We work closely with groups that focus on the wellbeing of families and communities.

Help from other agencies

You may be surprised just how many groups and agencies offer services that can help you – whether it is creating a budget, helping you get a birth certificate and identification so you can set up a bank account, or learning how to cope with your children’s behaviour.

Agencies such as Child, Youth and Family, and Work and Income can help you with your family and employment. Other groups can help you with education and housing, and other support you may need. We will help you meet the people from these groups who can help you.

Who is here to help you?

Corrections officer - Corrections officers ensure that you are safe and secure. They understand that you may have fears and concerns, particularly if this is your first time in prison. You can talk to them any time and if they can’t help you they will find someone who can.

Part of their job is to make sure that your surroundings here are secure and safe. To do this, corrections officers will routinely search you and your cell. They will remove anything
that may cause harm to you or others.

Corrections officers also work with you on your plan to make sure you make the changes you need to live offence free.

Case Manager - Your case manager works with you from remand through until your release. You will meet with them in the first few weeks of being on remand and talk about your needs and develop a plan. Your case manager will regularly talk with you about the progress you are making and check if there is anything else they can do to help you make the most of your time in prison. Your case manager will also work with you to ensure your release back into the community is a success.

Programme staff - Programme staff will help you learn new skills and help you plan how you will use your new skills when you leave prison.

Instructor - Instructors can teach you new skills to better prepare you for getting a job on the outside. It’s not like school; instructors teach you on the job and help you work towards real qualifications. We have instructors who teach carpentry, engineering, farming, cooking and other skills.

Volunteers - Volunteers visit and support prisoners. They provide a huge range of services, from helping to supervise children at visiting time, to teaching reading and writing, and organising music. The services vary from prison to prison, depending on the skills of local volunteers.

Kaiwhakamana - Kaiwhakamana are recognised Māori elders who can provide support for your cultural and spiritual needs.

Chaplains - Chaplins of different faiths work in prison to provide spiritual guidance or link you to others who can help. Chaplains are also there to listen and support you.

Nurse - Our nurses give you support for your health needs. They can either treat you or refer you to someone who can help, like a doctor (medical officer).

Nurses can also:

  • help you manage medication
  • support you with mental health needs or refer you to someone who can help
  • advise you about how to manage and improve your health
  • refer you to the dental service
  • answer questions you have about your health.

Psychologist - Our psychologists will work with you to help change the attitudes and behaviours that led to your offending. You might see a psychologist on your own or as part of a programme.

Working with a psychologist will focus on improving the skills you need to live a healthy, positive life.

Probation officer - Your probation officer will support you in the community.

Before release, your case manager will give you information about meeting your probation officer shortly after release. In some cases, your probation officer will come to prison before
your release to meet you and plan your move into the community.