Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2021, presented by Arts Access Aotearoa at Te Papa Tongarewa on 5 July, celebrated the award recipients and also the individuals, groups and organisations who received Highly Commended certificates in several of the award categories. Here are the people who were Highly Commended in the two Arts in Corrections awards.
Arts Access Corrections Māui Tikitiki a Taranga Award 2021
Highly Commended: Juanita Davis, Whanganui Prison
Juanita Davis has been teaching raranga (weaving) to the men in Whanganui Prison for several years, along with the history of weaving, the protocols of harvesting the harakeke, and how to dye it. She has helped the men weave their own personal korowai, organise an exhibition of their weaving, and make wahakura (woven bassinets) as part of Whanganui DHB’s Safe Sleep programme. While the men participate in Juanita’s weaving courses, she helps them learn about their culture, who they are and where they come from.
Judges’ comments: “Juanita’s raranga programme with men in Whanganui Prison is a wonderful demonstration of the value of art and tikanga as a rehabilitative tool in Corrections facilities. The men develop confidence and cultural connection, and the mana the men would have felt in wearing the korowai they had created is transformative.”
Highly Commended: Zak Devey, Youth Arts NZ, Mt Eden Corrections Facility
Youth Arts NZ co-founder Zak Devey always wanted to be a writer and to make a difference in his West Auckland community of Rānui. He and a team of writers are now doing that by facilitating the Te Kahui creative writing programme for young men in Mt Eden Corrections Facility, where they create journals with writing prompts and exercises for the young people to use to express themselves. Zak and the other writers began these writing sessions in person in February 2020 but the COVID-19 lockdown meant that in April 2020 they started to create and distribute booklets of writing exercises that the participants could write in and get feedback on. In May 2021, they returned to Mt Eden Corrections Facility to facilitate the workshops in person.
Judges’ comments: “Zak Devey is a young champion in the delivery of a creative writing programme to rangatahi in Mt Eden Corrections Facility. His dedication, constant learning, reflection, responsiveness and innovative processes are impressive. Feedback from rangatahi taking part in the creative writing programme are evidence of its powerful impact.”
Highly Commended: Annah Mac, Otago Corrections Facility
Singer-songwriter Annah Mac has been delivering The Kōwhai Project, a holistic music programme for the Department of Corrections since 2017. Course participants learn the ukulele, write songs and record as a group. A CD of 37 songs was engineered onsite across all six South Island facilities by Annah and mixed during lockdown when she was unable to deliver the programme. Annah is a resident tutor at Otago Corrections Facility where the programme was piloted. For Annah, music is a tool that can be used in a person’s rehabilitation to channel creativity.
Judges’ comments: “Anna’s commitment to her mahi and music as a powerful rehabilitative tool is truly impressive. Creating an album of music across multiple sites demonstrates her ability to navigate complex issues and achieve excellent results.”
Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Award 2021
Highly Commended: Sharne Parkinson, Harakeke Down South, Invercargill Prison
Sharne has been volunteering weekly at Invercargill Prison since February 2020, teaching the men about Māori language, culture, traditions and history using traditional Māori artforms such as traditional Māori musical instruments and kites, raranga and mau rakau. The men she works with have made installations for community festivals. Sharne has a passion for the arts, toi Māori in particular, and for tikanga Māori. She wants everybody, no matter their ethnicity, to be exposed to te ao Māori, the Māori worldview.
Judges’ comments: “Sharne is a wāhine toa. Driven by the Department of Corrections’ Hōkai Rangi Strategy, she shares her expertise and passion for toi Māori and tikanga with men in Invercargill Prison. An accomplished weaver and fibre artist, she uses the arts to heal, inspire a strong cultural identity, connect and rehabilitate.”