29 Jul 2015

Māori Party pushes for Māori Focus Unit at Mt Eden Prison

7:45 am on 29 July 2015

The Māori Party is pushing for a Māori Focus Unit to be set up inside Mount Eden Prison as a way to rehabilitate the inmates and steer them away from fighting other prisoners.

Part of Mt Eden prison, Auckland, New Zealand.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Avenue

A former prisoner who has run tikanga programmes for offenders said there was a lack of Māori staff at Mt Eden Prison.

Sam White said the Corrections budget was huge and more resources should go to Māori organisations to run programmes for Māori offenders.

Māori Party co-leader, Mārama Fox said that the punitive approach to dealing with Māori prisoners needed to change and rehabilitation through a Māori Focus Unit would help curb allegations of fighting.

"Me tīni ēnei whare herehere kia mau anō kia hoki anō tātou ki te whakapaipai o te tangata," hei tāna.

"Ehara i te mea hei raka noa iho te whare herehere kia mau te tangata kei roto, ēngari kia tīni tōna āhua, kia puta pai ki te ao, koia rā te take o te whare ōranga ake, koia rā te take o te Māori Focus Unit."

Translation:

"We need to change from the current punitive approach to one of rehabilitation," Ms Fox said.

"It is not about incarceration people and locking them up, but what it should be about is improving an inmates' self esteem so that they integrate back into society as better people.

"That is the reason providing a place of rehabilitation, that is the reason behind a Māori Focus Unit."

Ms Fox said running such programmes which will provide activities such as kapa haka will help Māori offenders to let off steam and learn about their own culture.

The Department of Corrections has formally taken over the management of the prison from Serco while a string of allegations - including a fight club and the death of an inmate - are investigated.

Shane White said he was not surprised by the allegations, as the prison was a frustrating place, where men with high energy levels were locked down with nothing to do.

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