Source: New Zealand Government
Tai Aroha Ten Year Anniversary
Hukanui Amuri Marae, Huntly
Good morning, and warm greetings to you all.
It’s a real pleasure to be here today to join with the community in acknowledging the ten-year anniversary of the Tai Aroha residential programme.
Ten years is an important milestone worth celebrating.
Over that time, I know this programme has also become an integral part of the Waikato Community.
My last visit to Tai Aroha was in January 2018 – I was on my way up to Waitangi.
I remember speaking at length with the residents about their experiences at Tai Aroha, particularly the Māori dimensions of the programme.
So compelling were the stories and the reflections of the residents and staff that I think I was scheduled to stay for two hours, but ended up staying for over five.
All of us here know residential programmes can be an important step in the rehabilitation process.
While some people have strong support systems, others require that extra level of support through residential programmes in the community.
Around 30 residents currently participate in the programme each year, with around 20 graduating. Since 2010, around 145 men have graduated from Tai Aroha with new skills and support to help them reintegrate into the community.
Last December, we made the decision to move the programme here to Hukanui Amuri Marae as the residence in Anglesea Street in Hamilton required extensive work.
I mihi to Ngāti Mahuta for the generosity they have shown to Tai Aroha and its residents by allowing us to establish the programme here on their marae for the time being.
Another one of Tai Aroha’s strengths is the positive relationship it has built with the local residential community in Hamilton.
The neighbours are generally very supportive of what we do.
One example is how Tai Aroha residents performed a haka in the front yard of the premises on ANZAC Day morning last year, which lifted the spirits of the community during the COVID-19 lock down.
The programme team also responded to the launch of Hokai Rangi by supporting residents to be more engaged with their whānau earlier in the programme. I’m told this has led to higher levels of commitment to the programme from many of the residents.
Another way they responded was to develop closer relationships with partner agencies who excel in providing support to Māori and Pasifika whānau.
One example is a new relationship we are building with Tuu Oho Mai, previously the Hamilton Abuse Intervention Project. We are working with them to provide access to support for the partners and whānau of Tai Aroha residents. Tuu Oho Mai have agreed to provide assessment, support and counselling services for the partners of Tai Aroha residents and specialist support to their children. We have made two referrals so far and one is underway.
We have begun talks with Kaute Pacifica about providing specialised services for Pasifika residents and their families.
Under Hokai Rangi, we have been making it easier for our partners to engage with us and we are creating more opportunities for site visits.
Our relationship with judges and lawyers has been a big focus.
We are currently arranging site visits for local judges and have been visited by local lawyers who have managed referrals, so they can see what services their clients will receive in Tai Aroha and be better informed about our eligibility and referral processes.
In 2019, Tai Aroha employed a dedicated clinical manager, Glen Kilgour, which has led to a higher-integrity model and more focused service for residents through better supervision and more opportunity to improve what we are doing.
At my last visit to Tai Aroha in 2018, I supported expanding the programme to a different region, if there was an identified need.
Corrections has now identified a need in Christchurch and is currently engaging with the local community about this.
That’s a positive thing.
We need more programmes like Tai Aroha in several communities, that use a bicultural approach to connect with the mainly Māori and Pasifika men who we are supporting to make a positive change here.
I know our relationship with Waikato-Tainui has been a key factor to Tai Aroha’s success.
A priority for me as Corrections minister is to see the Department build mana whenua partnerships around the country, so it’s great to see the partnership that has developed between Corrections, the community and the local iwi, with the community actively interested in the delivery of this programme.
I want us to build even tighter bonds with mana whenua over the next ten years and work even more closely together in how the programme is designed and delivered.