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Source: New Zealand Government

Hawke’s Bay Maori Pathways Launch

Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison, Hastings 

Thank you for the warm welcome.

I came into Government knowing that we could do things differently, that we needed to do things differently – especially for Māori.

And taking on the over-representation of Māori in our prisons has been a top priority for me as Corrections Minister.

This is a massive task and a long-term challenge, but progress is already being made.

In three years, we have safely reduced the prison population by 19 per cent.

There are now 830 fewer Māori in prison.

The Māori imprisonment rate, while still too high, has been decreasing, and Māori reconviction and reimprisonment rates are improving.

Those are real results, but to continue making progress we need to keep doing things differently. We need to make real change.

And it’s a real pleasure to be here today to share details of what that change looks like with Māori Pathways in Hawke’s Bay.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the members of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc board, Chief Executive Chrissie Hape and board chair Ngahiwi Tomoana (note – he may not be present).

I would also like to acknowledge those of you who have been involved in the co-design process, and representatives from Corrections, Te Puni Kōkiri and The Ministry of Social Development.

It is so important that we are able to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of Māori offenders and their whanau.

We’ve all seen the statistics – statistics that are so longstanding that the fact over half of our prison population is Māori has been normalised.

These statistics represent our mothers, our fathers, our grandmothers, our grandfathers, and, worst of all, our children and grandchildren.

The system is not working for Māori. It needs to change, and it needs to change urgently.

And the only way we can achieve better outcomes for Māori, is by working together.

Māori Pathways enables the system to be more effective by using kaupapa Māori and whānau-centred approaches.

The four-year co-designed programme will support wider system change by working in partnership with iwi and other government agencies.

It is initially being offered to those serving time in high security in Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison, with priority for men who are under 30 years-old, as they have amongst the highest recidivism rates. 

At least 45 men in high security here at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison will be on a Māori Pathway at any one time, but the number of participants will increase as men are transferred to low security or are released.

The Pathway involves a range of new initiatives to lower the proportion of Māori in the corrections system and supports the outcomes of Hōkai Rangi.

Forging strong partnerships with iwi and agencies are key to the success of the programme. These projects have been co-designed with whānau, hapū, and iwi Māori; along with other organisations and individuals, including those with lived experiences.

Here in Hawke’s Bay, Ngāti Kahungunu will lead and co-ordinate the delivery of several new services.

While there are a number of initiatives taking place, we believe the following three, in particular, will have a profound impact on reducing reoffending and improving outcomes.

Firstly, “Tēnei Au” is a kaupapa Māori approach underway for men in high security here at Hawke’s Bay. It has been developed by Māori experts and practitioners in tikanga and trauma-informed care and includes new approaches to healing trauma and to help connect men to their whānau and local iwi, underpinned by mātauranga Māori.

Secondly, we are ensuring frontline staff in the Māori Pathways team are able to bring an understanding of the challenges that Māori and their whānau face.

They are experienced in working with whānau and understand the value of strengthening identity and whakapapa.

In addition to those roles, new positions have been created to support the Māori Pathways kaupapa here in Te Tirohanga.

We are fortunate to have Kaumātua Tom Hemopo as our ‘Pou Tikanga’ working with Prison Director Leonie Aben and other staff to build cultural awareness and practice in line with the Ngāti Kahungunu tikanga and history.

He has been spending time getting to know the men in the programme and help them learn about their whakapapa, as part of their wellbeing.

‘Pou Arahi’, will work in Te Tirohanga and other parts of the prison to provide manaaki and guidance to help men reconnect to their culture, and to restore their whānau connections.

Understanding their personal history and whānau is an essential part of their journey. These new roles are key to building confidence and communication skills in our men and helping them learn through cultural based activities.

From this, we expect to see our men become more resilient, have increased coping skills and be able to develop safety plans for release – all key skills that are essential for parole, and for reintegration, and to help break that cycle of reoffending and imprisonment.

And finally, Paiheretia te Muka Tāngata jointly led by Te Puni Kōkiri, Corrections, and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD),  in partnership with Ngāti Kahungunu.  Kaiarataki, or Whanau Ora navigators, are being recruited to work with men in the corrections system, and their whānau.

Beginning next month, they will play a critical role as advocates, supporters and guides for the men and their whānau.

They will assist men who are on the pathway to achieve their goals, access services and support their needs, while maintaining the links between whānau members.

The Ministry of Social Development will also have three staff to help men on the Māori Pathways access the MSD social support and employment services that can contribute to their goals and those of their whānau.  

Navigators can begin to work with men before they are released from prison to ensure a smooth transition into the community for both them and their whānau.

By introducing the navigator workforce, we will see stronger whānau relationships and connections, in a way that measurably improves intergenerational wellbeing.

Once again – thank you to everyone here for the significant effort you have put into this project and forming this innovative partnership.

These initiatives recognise that strengthening cultural identity and whānau connections are integral to achieving wellbeing.

It allows for a more seamless journey through different stages of the system, with guidance and support provided every step of the way.

Leading to better outcomes for Māori, reduced reoffending, fewer victims of crime and creating lasting change.

I am proud to launch the Maori Pathways at Hawke’s Bay here today. I am proud to announce this change. Because to do nothing for our people and their whānau, is no longer acceptable.

My final words are for the men here who are currently on their Māori Pathway – thank you for volunteering to participate in this kaupapa and for sharing your experiences today.

Remember that you are part of a wider whānau – Ngāi Māori – and we want to embrace you as you make your way through your time here.  All we ask of you is to embrace us – iwi and hapū – so we can walk this pathway together. 

ENDS

MIL OSI