A group of Māori men in Tauranga has recently completed a Department of Corrections tikanga programme which focuses on the skills and tools needed to make positive changes in their lives.
Te Ihu Waka is run by local iwi Pirirākau and is for those serving community-based sentences.
Tauranga Service Manager Karen Van der Zee says it is important to have this programme as a way of reducing re-offending.
“There is a lot of evidence that demonstrates that helping people re-connect with their culture, re-introducing them to Te Ao Maori philosophies, and setting up support networks in their communities can have significant protective factors for people.”
Staff from Tauranga Community Corrections and various health providers attended the three-night hui where participants stay at the marae.
Van der Zee says, “It’s really important that staff are involved in the process. Not only does it help to create te whakakoha rangatiratanga, it also shows the men the support their probation officers are willing to give them to help them make meaningful changes in their lives.”
On the final day of the programme staff and members of the men's family attended the poroporoaki. Some whānau members stood to whaikōrero as a way of supporting their loved ones.
The work with local iwi will continue, Van der Zee explains.
“Overall the feedback we have had from this programme was extremely positive. Not only are we going to run another one in November, staff from Corrections and Pirirakau are going to present to staff from other sites to help share the success of what has been achieved locally.”