Rotorua rehabilitation programme prepares for graduation this month

A rehabilitation programme aimed at high-risk offenders in Rotorua continues on despite minimal funds. Pūwhakamua is a cultural emerging 12-month program by former drug lord and inmate turned mentor Wiremu Billy Macfarlane he says the program which is largely self-funded is needed despite the lack the funds. It's been six months since this program Puwhakamua began. Currently, seven high-risk offenders are on it which is why Wiremu Macfarlane is encouraging more programs like this in the community. “We need to continue to creating Māori methodologies because the majority of our people are in the prison system and that is not good”. But running programs like this comes at a cost for Macfarlane who has had to fundraise. Today he has invited the community to meet those on the course and to show them what they have been leaning. Eraia Keil who attended the open day says “regardless of the fact that this program has only been going for six months they have learnt their identity and we are seeing the benefits of that I have personally seen them in the community helping our elders weeding the gardens they have talked about where they are from and performed that is amazing”. The course which consists of a series of 12 six-hour long workshops which include cultural training in Te Reo (language) the arts and Māori weaponry the workshops has been conducted on Marae in Rotorua. “We need to continue to fight because what we are doing is uplifting our culture so we need to carry on no matter what!” On the 22nd of this month, a graduation will take place for those on the course marking six months since they have been in attendance the completion date for the program is next year in June.