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Kaumatua Gain Greater Access To Māori Prisoners

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Today 11 Kaumatua from Hawkes Bay received ID cards at a ceremony at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison. The ID cards are the next step in a process which will allow the Kaumatua to have greater access to Māori prisoners under the Department's Kaiwhakamana Policy. The Kaumatua recently underwent induction to become Kaiwhakamana (Māori specified visitor).

The ID cards will mean that Kaumatua with Kaiwhakamana status are listed on a national register and through this registration they are able to gain easier access to prisoners to offer a range of support to aid in their rehabilitation.

The support on offer from the newly inducted Kaiwhakamana will include assisting prisoners identify and make contact with their iwi, hāpu and whānau; helping prisoners trace their whakapapa and learn the tikanga of their iwi; providing spiritual support to offenders, and preparing them for reintegration back into the community.

"This initiative will allow Kaumataua easier access to prisoners and this is absolutely essential so that they can offer a range of support with a view to reduce their risk of re-offending. Around 50% of prisoners identify as Māori so the need for this type of support is critical," says Prison Manager George Massingham.

"The contribution these Kaumatua will make to Corrections is important, and their work is much appreciated, by staff, prisoners and whānau alike."

Succeeding for Māori offenders is a priority strategic focus for the Department and assisting Māori to promote the wellness and wellbeing their people contributes to-wards reducing reoffending by Māori.

"The Kaiwhakamana role allows respected Māori in the community to assist with prisoners needs and be positive role models to them."

"This provides prisoners with support that connects them in a spiritual sense, and helps prisoners on their paths to an offence free lifestyle on release."

The handing over of the ID cards formed part of an event at Hawke's Bay Prison's Maori Focus Unit (MFU) that was attended by Corrections staff, representatives from Te Taiwhenua O Heretaunga and around 80 local Kaumatua (male elders) and Kuia (female elders).

Te Taiwhenua O Heretaunga is a long established Charitable Trust that hold monthly meetings in the community that support and promote the well being of Kaumatua and Kuia within Heretaunga. The Hawke's Bay Regional Prison MFU offered to host the Te Taiwhenua O Heretaunga October meeting in order to show their appreciation and recognise the services the Trust offer through Kaumatua support to the Prison. The event was also an opportunity to showcase the success of the MFU through kapa haka and waiata performances by the MFU prisoners.

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