Incorporating tikanga and toi Māori into the rehabilitation of Māori men at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison has led to recognition by Te Pūtanga Toi Arts Access Aotearoa, for Kyle Ellison and Pirika Taepa.
Ellison says that implementing tikanga Māori was “quite simple.”
"So, we’re teaching the same elements in the unit standards but what we’ve done is incorporated them into a Māori context.
“Implementing Māori elements created a sense of belonging for our tāne,” he says.
Ellison and Taepa work as offender employment instructors at the prison, where they've led projects to paint kōwhaiwhai, carve taonga puoro, and even create a model marae as a learning resource for children.
“This a 2x2 metre marae, and it’s got all the basics of the wharenui, pātaka, ātea. Everything is replicated from a real marae, and this is for tamariki to help them identify parts of the marae.”
'Embraced the kaupapa'
Their innovative work, earned them the Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga award, earlier this month, and Ellison says the men have taken to the initiative better than he thought they would have.
“The men have embraced the kaupapa in ways I could have never imagined.
“Their attitudes, demeanours the way in which they conduct themselves within the units is a reflection of the importance this model of learning means to them.”