Prison inmates participate in ANZAC ceremony

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

ANZAC celebrations began early this year for the staff and prisoners of Mt Eden Correction Facility (MECF).

100 community members, prison staff and inmates took part in the ceremony, which included a haka written and performed by the inmates.

These prisoners are drawing on the strength of the fallen from war.

Te reo Māori teacher, Bradley Wiki-James says, “Our main objective is to reconnect and bring the two worlds together for one cause.”

Martin Lile from MECF says, “To allow the prisoner to demonstrate that they've got some skills and to allow them to demonstrate them publicly and give them the confidence to do that.”

MECF is the only prison in New Zealand to allow their inmates the chance to celebrate ANZAC.

“I think people were a little bit sceptical and that would be both sides, both staff and prisoners but as its grown popularity words spreads, I just think it’s at the pinnacle at what you saw today,” says Lile.

Wiki-James says, “They wrote this haka about the Māori gods. I think it's a great way to remember the fallen and to connect the Māori gods to them.”

The inmates also got to see the meaning of ANZAC through the eyes of a student.

Karma Roberts says, “It's a great chance for the prisoners to hear a new voice and younger voice and it's great for them to get a different perspective.”

President of RSA Auckland, Patric Johnson says, “A big part of our celebration is with our youth, they are our future and we've got to look forward to them to uphold our tradition.”

MECF hopes this initiative is made available right across New Zealand.