Arts in prisons: poetry and putiputi

A book of poetry by men on a three-month drug treatment programme at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison and the donation of 360 putiputi, made by men in Whanganui Prison, to delegates at a neonatal nurses conference in Auckland are among the arts activities in prisons.

Pro-social ideas and positivity in short poems

A book of poetry, inspired during a three-month drug treatment programme at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, has surprised everyone involved by its creativity and spontaneity.

Covers of poetry collectionThe booklet, named Whānaungatanga – together as one, evolved in Te Po (the second stage of the drug treatment programme the men were on), from a ten-minute creative writing exercise. The short poems revealed pro-social ideas and positivity, surprising the group members and their facilitators on how far they have come.

The poetry booklet includes the work of the 12 group members, one mentor and the two Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga facilitators. Together they produced 27 poems, 13 drawings and the booklet covers.

Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga is a provider of health, education and social services for Māori in Hawke’s Bay and works in the Drug Treatment Unit at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison.

“It was wonderful to see how the enthusiasm and commitment that the men invested in this project, working together towards a common goal, strengthened their relationships, and increased their creativity, confidence and mana,” says Valentina Teclici, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Senior AOD Practitioner.

At graduation on 9 May 2019, every graduate received two copies of the poetry booklet, a copy to keep and a copy to give to a loved one. A couple of graduates read their poems in front of the Therapeutic Community and their whānau.

Valentina says the booklet added to the men’s sense of achievement at the completion of the programme.

Ringing like a bell

By C.M.

I arrived here quiet and shy,

and if you asked me, I couldn’t say why.

But now I’m two thirds in

You can’t help but see my grin.

As I slowly come out of my shell

I’m beginning to ring like a bell.

I’m no longer sad or feeling that bad.

In fact I’m feeling quite glad.

Putiputi for nurses’ conference

When delegates from around the world attended the Council of International Neonatal Nurses Conference (COINN) in Auckland recently, they received a harakeke (flax) putiputi (rose), thanks to Whanganui Prison.

Andrea Zander, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Whanganui Prison, and Barbara Hammond with the putiputiAfter an approach from Barbara Hammond, a neonate nurse at Whanganui Hospital, the prison’s volunteer co-ordinator, Andrea Zander, worked with men to make 360 flowers for the conference.

“The men made the flowers as part of their traditional raranga (weaving) class,” Andrea says.

“Once made, the flowers were boiled to meet export regulations. A swing tag was added outlining the significance of harakeke to Māori, its scientific name, where it was made, and how the flowers related to the conference theme and demonstrated Aotearoa’s Te Pā Harakeke – warmth and hospitality.”

The flowers were greatly appreciated and have gone global – to no fewer than 22 countries including America, Canada, the UK and Japan.

Judy Hitchcock, COINN director, RN, says, “There couldn’t have been a more significant memento for our delegates to take home from a conference focussing on Family Integrated Care.”

These stories were supplied by the Department of Corrections.



Arts in prisons: poetry and putiputi


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