Indigenous delegates observe Māori customs used for prisoner rehabilitation

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

A delegation of indigenous people visited Waikato's Waikeria Prison to observe a violence, drug, alcohol and sex offender's treatment programme which uses Māori customs in the rehabilitation process of prisoners. 

Terilynn Francisco is a community worker in Guam, she says, “The Māori culture is ahead of us in terms of the interrelation of the Māori culture and integrating it into the western framework.”

The CareNZ Manaaki Aotearoa programme has been operating at the prison's Karaka Unit for 17 years.  This is another specific area the delegation was eager to learn from.

Francisco believes, “We have one prison on Guam, but we don't integrate any cultural practises, rituals any cultural healing into that curriculum.  It's very very empowering to witness this kind of healing.”

As part of the programme, prisoners learn Māori culture and customs such as carving, cultural performance and Māori values.

“I do plan to develop a traditional chant curriculum and bring that as a programme into our correction facility,” said Francisco.

The 50 indigenous delegates look to implement their own traditions as part of the rehabilitation of their own people in prisons.