Prisoners bring Xmas joy to whānau devastated by house fire

updated By Taroi Black

Grandmother Ngarangi Sadler and her six grandchildren, whose Auckland home burnt down over a month ago, have received a remarkable gesture from a local community initiative - which includes a container of gifts donated by inmates at Pāremoremo Prison.

Angel Tree Christmas, a community-based organisation that works closely with Prison Fellowship NZ, came up with an initiative where families in need - who are related to prisoners at Pāremoremo Prison, could be nominated to receive gifts - made or rebuilt by inmates, in time for Christmas. 

Ngarangi Sadler says, "I want to get back up and find a whare for me and my grandchildren and my whānau. I looked at rent-a-property. They're about eight or nine hundred a week for a five-bedroom home. I did apply through Housing NZ to get us a whare because we've been living in a garage. It's sad, but you never thought in your life that this can happen to you."

Her only son Travis Sadler is currently serving 18 years in prison.  That's where Angel Tree Christmas came in and provided six bikes to Sadler's mokopuna which were rebuilt by Paremoremo prisoners as part of the Angel Tree Christmas' mission.

Lady Talaepa from Prison Fellowship NZ says, “We try and take a holistic view of the situation and part of what we do is prisoner reintegration so it's not just supporting the families and the kids while the family member is in prison but it's also supporting them on their journey when their coming out of prison to reintegrate into their families and back into the community."

"That’s a blessing, I really thank him for that. I miss him, it's really heartbreaking because he's my only son but hey you got to be strong in here but arohamai my son. I love you always no matter where you are or what you do,” says Sadler.

Angel Tree Christmas provide 4000 presents every year. 70% of the families they work with, who have a relative in prison, are Māori.

Angel Tree Christmas spokesperson Peter Rakanui says, “That's why we're here because one is we love what we do and we love the people and if we can help them and bless in any way. Because we know what it's like. This lady has been through an incredible tragedy.”