It is with considerable satisfaction that I write this editorial which heralds a “resurrected” Practice: The New Zealand Corrections Journal. The journal was first published in 2013, and the following years saw 14 editions published, comprising over 200 original articles. The hiatus of the last two years came about during a major Departmental re-think of strategic direction. In 2019 the executive team were concerned that everyone’s energy and time should be focused on ensuring that a new strategy (now named Hōkai Rangi) should be well-formulated and that implementation should be successfully begun. Now that implementation is underway, we’re able to re-introduce what had become a reputable and well-received publication.
The journal exists to present new developments in correctional practice in Aotearoa New Zealand to a wider audience. The Department of Corrections has a large and competent workforce devoted to the design, planning and delivery of rehabilitative and reintegrative interventions. This is reflected in the regular piloting and evaluation of new services designed to reduce re-offending. We also have many very experienced frontline custodial and probation practitioners who have evolved a culture of innovation and improvement.
The reintroduction of the journal at this time is appropriate as our new strategic direction has significant implications for practice on the ground; there is a great deal of innovation and change to talk about. Our direction is based in a renewed appreciation of certain realities: first and foremost the fact that Māori continue to be over-represented in the population the Department is called upon to manage. The current level of Māori over-representation is similar to, if not slightly more pronounced, than it was 25 years ago when the Department of Corrections came into existence. A wide range of societal-level factors undoubtedly have contributed to this, such as continuing social disadvantage, and barriers to engagement in education. However, while traditional correctional approaches have been highly effective in specific areas (especially intensive psychologically-based rehabilitation programmes), overall impacts have been inadequate, and it is reasonable to conclude that new ways of working should be explored.
In addition, our new strategic direction reflects a potent social-political trend across the public service, and beyond, of harnessing the strengths and potential of tikanga Māori in bringing about positive change. For Corrections this is reflected in many actions flowing from Hōkai Rangi, which involve a more authentic embrace of tikanga principles in our work. These include:
- rangatiratanga – authentic shared decision-making with Māori to support and deliver a holistic and integrated service
- manaakitanga – promoting humanising and healing environments, showing care and respect, and upholding the mana and dignity of those in our care
- whānau – supporting family/whānau to walk alongside those in our care on their rehabilitation and reintegration journey
- a te ao Māori worldview – treating access to culture as a right, not a privilege; prioritising, embedding and protecting mātauranga Māori to innovate and improve what we do
- whakapapa – creating a safe environment for Māori to strengthen and/or maintain their cultural identity, their connection to people and place, and their sense of belonging.
As Corrections embarks on this new journey, we will endeavour to grow the evidence base of what works for Māori, as well as for all people in our care and management. That evidence will in turn lead to the refinement of our strategy over time.
I hope this journal will play a part in making our journey of discovery known by all who have an interest in this mahi (work).
Dr Peter Johnston