Performing Arts has positive impact on Ngāwhā Prison inmates

By Dean Nathan

A Northland Region Corrections Facility says performing arts is having a positive impact on the lives of inmates at Ngāwhā prison.

Over the past year inmates have been recreating plays by William Shakespeare.

One inmate told Te Kāea, "It’s something different, out of my comfort zone meeting new people and seeing a new side of the boys." 

Another participant says, "I can’t emphasise it more as far as personal development and self-betterment.  The whole idea is totally empowering."

Simon Tanner the Assistant Prison Director Northland Region Corrections Facility says the Shakespearean plays are a tool to help inmates confront and address their own personal demons.

He says, "They open up and are able to talk about areas in their lives. They've now got a way of communicating through that and performing arts is very very critical to that."

Tutor Beth Hill says, "If a little part of what they learn as being part of this programme helps them to reintegrate back into the community and family, then you know it’s doing its job."

Fifteen months have passed since the renowned Shakespeare Behind Bars programme was introduced into Ngāwha prison.  The benefits are such that its hoped the programme will continue and be introduced into prisons nationwide.

An inmate told Te Kāea, "It really has instilled within my inner self a belief that bad men can change for the better and I want to be an advocate and product of that."