15 Jul 2011

Re-integration unit for Māori prisoners opens

6:42 am on 15 July 2011

The Government has officially opened the first of two re-integration units designed to tackle the high rate of reoffending by Māori prisoners.

Māori are five times more likely than others to be incarcerated and more than 50% of Māori prisoners reoffend within four years of release.

Associate Minister of Corrections Pita Sharples opened the Whare Oranga Ake unit just outside of Hawke's Bay Regional Prison on Thursday.

It will initially cater for 16 prisoners in the last three to six months of their sentence and is designed to give them skills to cope with every day life outside.

The Department of Corrections says the programme incorporates Maori values.

Rehabilitation and re-integration manager Alison Thoms says initially, prisoners will have the chance to get to know each other before a Māori community service provider begins working with them.

Inmates also have the opportunity of getting a job or doing a course at the polytech in Napier, and help to find stable accommodation will be provided.

The second unit at Spring Hill Corrections Facility in Waikato will open on Friday.