Setting offenders on a learning pathway is a key element of Te Tirohanga, the national kaupapa Maori rehabilitation programme offered in whare (units) at Waikeria, Tongariro/Rangipo, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, and Rimutaka Prisons.
Te Waharoa is a Level 2 National Certificate in Maori developed for Corrections and delivered by Te Wänanga o Aotearoa (TWoA), a leading Maori-based tertiary education provider.
Participants spend more than 500 hours in a classroom environment, and another 240 hours on homework in their own time. They work toward a National Certificate in Maori – Level 2 which includes a te reo Maori (language) strand, three literacy and three numeracy units, and meets NCEA Level 2 requirements. Participants gain 80 credits after successful completion of Te Waharoa.
Corrections’ Manager Mäori Services Barney Tihema says the whare have moved from delivering enhanced tikanga programmes with no qualification, to providing this formal qualification.
“One of the benefits of Te Waharoa is there’s the opportunity for the tane to get two qualifications in six months. It’s a great motivation and sets a foundation for success with other interventions. Boosting their literacy and numeracy skills enhances their cognitive skills which they need to get the most out of our medium intensity rehabilitation programme, Mauri Tu Pae.”
"The hours in class are a challenge, but there’s extra support from volunteers for those with numeracy and literacy barriers," says Barney.
Once tane start on Te Waharoa, learning takes priority over other prisoner activities, including work. “That’s the focus for three to six months so they can make the most of learning.”
And the learning is all delivered in line with Te Tirohanga’s kaupapa values: wairua (spiritual), whanau (family), manaaki (respect), kaitiaki (guardianship), rangatira (responsibility).
Te Waharoa was designed and developed by TWoA. Sponsor Tony Dowling says the underlying approach is one of accelerated learning or ako whakatere.
“It’s a unique learning style and teaching methodology. It incorporates song, writing, games and interaction so that teaching caters for a range of learning styles. Ako whakatere places the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of the tauira (student) at the centre of their learning, encouraging them to ask questions and explore Maori culture in a safe, non-threatening and nurturing environment.
“Ako whakatere assumes that learners will be successful; learning is easier when the learner is calm, fully engaged, and learning is easy.”
While the numbers are yet to be finalised, for those who start Te Waharoa, the completion rate is estimated to be between 90 – 100 percent.