Women inmates from Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility have been training for the inter-prison Kapa Haka competition for over two months.
The competition is part of the Department of Corrections Hōkai Rangi strategy, a strategy that uses Māori culture to rehabilitate Māori prisoners. This is the second time that the group from the prison, known as Te Papa Mauri, has taken part.
Teams from nine prisons around the country are competing, and the prisoners also gain NZQA credits, and these credits count towards the prisoner's educational activities. Te Kura Correspondence School has been brought on to do the assessments.
Inter-prison kapa haka comp gets underway.
Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu Correspondence school mātauranga Māori head Whaimutu Marino says kapa haka is a vehicle to a better way of life.
"You see some of them, this is their first performance, so, the hope is that they find the right path for them."
Tāpeta Wehi, who is one of the judges, agrees.
"No matter what prison you go to, haka can be a solution. Like bringing gangs together, Mongrel Mob, Black Power and Headhunters in the same row."
"Today we have seen the real value of haka."
Currently, there are 307 inmates at the facility, and prison, director Tayla Yandall says having Māori culture as a tool for rehabilitation is only a start.
"So it isn't just for an occasion or a competition. This is great but, for me, it needs to be woven into Auckland Women's Regional Correctional Facility."
"The joy and the healing they get from kapa haka, it's a vehicle we can use to support them."