Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has joined forces with the Department of Corrections to educate Māori prisoners and reduce Māori reoffending. Their goal is to slash the reoffending rates by more than a third by 2017 through their new programme, Te Waharoa.
Education is the key to reducing Māori reoffending rates.
Jim Mather, CEO of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa says, "The main goal is to reduce Māori reoffending rates from 50% to 35%."
Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga explains, "If you've got education and training you're better able to get jobs and with jobs you're better able to look after your family, your whānau and your communities."
The new course, Te Waharoa, will integrate with Te Tirohanga, a national programme providing targeted services within a Māori-based framework to reduce reoffending.
Mather says, "At the end of the year, hopefully they'll graduate with NCEA Level 1 and 2."
Lotu-Iiga adds, "Young Māori men learning about their reo, learning about their culture and tikanga make a huge difference."
Te Tirohanga was established to provide Māori-specific rehabilitation and currently operates in Waikeria, Tongariro, Hawke's Bay, Whanganui and Rimutaka Prisons.
"We all know that a huge proportion of prisoners are Māori so this programme is an opportunity for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to do their part to address that statistic," says Mather.
In time, we'll see whether education is in fact the lifeline to offenders.