2019 Arts in Corrections Highly Commended certificates presented
Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019, presented in Parliament by Arts Access Aotearoa, celebrated the award recipients and also the individuals, groups and organisations who received Highly Commended certificates in the two Arts in Corrections award.
All photos: Vanessa Rushton Photography
Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Award 2019
Highly Commended: Rue-Jade Morgan, Otago Corrections Facility
Imprisoned for a serious crime, Rue-Jade was challenged while inside to take another positive pathway by a tutor of Māori arts and tikanga. He followed that pathway and became a lecturer at Otago Polytechnic.
Using that position and the understanding he built up on his life journey, he has created a programme in traditional martial arts and tikanga to support others in prison and probation services, primarily Otago Corrections Facility.
Jade’s programme targets Māori in high-security facilities, aiming to give them an understanding of who they are and where they come from. Following that, some prisoners have developed so much that they have been able to transfer to low-security areas and so become eligible for prison employment and training, which can equip them for life after prison. He also offers released prisoners a chance to pursue education opportunities at Otago Polytech as a means for them to continue engaging with education.
Judges’ comment: “Rue-Jade Morgan’s knowledge of tikanga, along with his application of traditional mau rakau and its values to the modern world, is transformative. His integrity and the depth of his impact on men in Otago Corrections Facility are simply inspiring.”
Arts Access Corrections Māui Tikitiki a Taranga Award 2019
Highly Commended: Annah Mac, Otago Corrections Facility
There is a lot of musical talent in prisons and Annah Mac sees music as a tool that can be used throughout life to channel negative emotions in a positive way. In 2016, the Otago Corrections Facility accepted Annah’s proposal of The Kowhai Project, a ten -week programme teaching prisoners to play the ukulele or guitar, sing as a group, write songs and record a live demo.
The programme enables them to express a range of ideas and feelings in a positive way and provides a space for self-expression and mindfulness. Developing confidence and the ability to articulate feelings has a flow-on positive impact on relationships with whanau and reintegration into the community.
The Kowhai Project has proved extremely successful and Annah has since delivered it to every prison in the South Island: Christchurch Women’s Prison, Christchurch Men’s Prison, Rolleston Prison, Otago Corrections Facility and Invercargill Prison. She is currently working toward producing a CD of songs from South Island prisons.
Judges’ comment: “The Kowhai Project, delivered by Annah Mac in all South Island prisons, provides significant benefits to the participants. Over ten weeks, prisoners learn a range of skills from playing a ukulele to singing, writing and recording songs, and the business of music.”
Highly Commended: Nic Scotland, Hawkes Bay Regional Prison
Men in Hawkes Bay Regional Prison sit around the table painting, talking and listening. Sitting with them is artist and education tutor Nic Scotland, who says she constantly witnesses the improvement in their personal development and communication.
Nic teaches art every week to 70 men across five units who are all involved in art projects around HBRP. She empowers them with a sense of identity, wairua and an ability to communicate in a positive and meaningful way. Whanaungatanga underpins each class. The men have a sense of ownership of the projects and their contribution to the site community.
Nic led a group of young men to write and creatively illustrate an anti-bullying resource with related raps called Can You Relate? Their project went on to win the Resilience category of the Young Enterprise Scheme’s National Excellence Awards. The resource is being sold nationally and supported by Bullying Free NZ.
She brings community mentors into the prison, including musicians, sports people and actors, to support the youth. This year Real Talk is writing, recording and producing rap music, highlighting the struggles of young people, overcoming barriers and focusing on their hopes and dreams.
Nic embodies the positive traits of Maui in everything that she does.
Judges’ comment: “The standard of Nic Scotland’s arts delivery in Hawkes Bay Regional Prison is excellent and her work with the Youth Unit is award-winning. Nic works collaboratively to achieve great results; is innovative in promoting the prisoners’ artwork; and is able to make things happen.”