Today the doors of the high security unit in the Hawke's Bay Regional Prison were opened to family for a Te Reo Māori graduation. A unique opportunity for dangerous offenders to further their education.
According to the Hawke's Bay Regional Prison Manager, George Massingham, “The prison has been going for 26 years as we've only ever run 2 courses up there so it is unique.”
Some inmates began the course with little or no Te Reo Māori knowledge and now seven of them have graduated with a Certificate in Māori Studies Level 2 from EIT.
Teacher Tipene Rangihuna says, “I am so very proud and humbled but yes very proud, not for me but of them and their families as well as their tribes too.”
Today inmates had the opportunity to show their families what they've been learning every day for the last three months.
Mr Massingham says, “It's boosted them up to a level of confidence and capability that we've never have seen otherwise.”
It's the first year the course has been offered to those deemed a high risk to society, with 18 in total graduating this year.
The prison hopes their new sense of identity has given them tools for change when they leave.