Ngāti Whātua elder calls for more iwi participation in prisoner rehabilitation

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Ngāti Whātua elder and tikanga advisor Dame Naida Glavish is calling for more iwi participation in the rehabilitation of Māori prisoners. This follows the opening of the new $300 million wing at Paremoremo prison.

Glavish says a multiple-support approach is needed to rehabilitate Māori inmates.

“Rehabilitation can't be done in prison alone, but in collaboration with the whānau, tribe, and people to come up with solutions,” she said.

“If we don't do this, they will re-offend again.”

The new wing will house 260 maximum security prisoners, electronically monitored by staff.  It also has a mental health unit to treat prisoners with acute needs.

“The prisoners are not returned to families, tribes, and people as part of their rehabilitation. We all want to stop them end re-offending. But they're released under parole conditions. They're not released to their people.”

Rehabilitation and training programmes will be available such as learning welding, computer, and literacy programmes. However, Glavish says it's not enough.

“It's nothing but providing employment for prison staff. How can we all work in collaboration to stop recidivism?”

Glavish says the government to equip Iwi to work with inmates in their release from prison and re-integration into the community.