Sitting here in this bustling Arts Access Aotearoa office, surrounded by my tuakana, I am in awe as I sift through stacks of folders, files and papers representing more than a decade of planning, projects, commitment, effort and resilience in supporting arts in prisons in Aotearoa.

As your new Arts in Corrections Advisor Kaiārahi A Toi Ara Poutama, I'm aware these valuable strategies and projects have supported thousands of individuals and helped our organisation move forward in the Arts in Corrections space.

The names of my predecessors are everywhere I look. Their notes in the margins; their doodles as they pondered; their scrawls as they advocated for what they believed in. I hold their tangible legacy in my hands. The ink that opened doors and minds.

Within these documents, I’ve found treasure maps with valuable insights: content written by staff and others with an interest and belief in the power of the arts to transform. I am excited by the insights and dedication displayed in these papers. I feel their wairua in every journey they have documented.

These documents were developed through extensive work and robust, honest conversations. As I explore this work and see the benefits of it in all the mahi to come, I would like to express my gratitude to my predecessors for the road they have paved for us to follow. Thank you to my predecessor Chris Ulutupu and before him, Jacqui Moyes and Moana Tipa. Homai ta pakipaki!

To all of you who have worked with my predecessors, I extend my warmest greetings. I look forward to meeting and collaborating with you. I will do my best to support you and your valuable contribution to this work.

Coming your way

We have some exciting news to share. Andy Glanville and I are coming your way! Andy is the new Arts in Corrections Activator Whakahohe a Toi Ara Poutama, a role made possible through Manatu Taonga’s Regeneration Fund.

Andy is driving one the four projects we’re delivering through this funding. This project will build the professional standards and capability of Arts in Corrections practitioners and provide practical, how-to resources.

We want to support and build a cohort of artists with the necessary skills to deliver high-quality arts projects in prisons, youth justice facilities and Community Corrections. This is about looking to the future.

Like me, Andy is both an artist and an educator. And also like me, he is driven by a passion for this mahi. As part of the Arts in Corrections project for the coming year, we are planning to produce a publication, accompanied by a series of relevant videos.

The aims of this resource are to:

  • inform the Arts in Corrections sector and wider community about its achievements and the important work it does
  • provide guidelines on standards and best practices
  • provide a clear, safe pathway for new providers to enter this field.
  • We need to hear from you to develop this resource, which will feature stories and case studies, along with essential information for people wanting to jump on the same waka.

Your input in crucial so please share your thoughts with us. We will gather and present our plans and what this publication could look like at the upcoming annual Arts in Corrections Network’s regional hui.

Arts in Corrections Network hui

We plan to hold the Arts in Corrections Northern Network hui in Auckland before the end of the year, followed by the Central North Island and Southern Network hui before the end of March 2024.

I’m pleased to let you know that Tony O’Connor, Co-director of Point and Associates, will discuss his work firstly at the Arts in Corrections Northern Network hui and then at the two subsequent hui. 

Working with Hector Kaiwai (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Maniapoto, Tūhoe) of Awa Associates, Tony is leading an evaluation of the 13 arts projects being funded and delivered through the Creative Arts and Cultural Wellbeing Prison Initiative. 

In late November, Tony will present findings from the first year of the evaluation to the Initiative’s steering group, set up to monitor the progress of the evaluation. Arts Access Aotearoa is a member of this group. You can read more about Tony’s work in the story Evaluating arts programmes in prison.

You can also learn more about the 13 projects in Recipients of Creative Arts and Wellbeing Prison Initiative, with links to articles about several of them. 

You will hear more from us soon, inviting you to attend your respective regional hui. But for now, ka ki te ano e hoa ma, for I have many more taonga to dig through.

Me te aroha mahana, Neil Wallace

Neil Wallace (Ngati Irakehu, Kati Kuri, Kai Tahu) is the Arts in Corrections Advisor Kaiārahi A Toi Ara Poutama at Arts Access Aotearoa. You can contact Neil (T: 027 263 6711 E: from Monday to Thursday.  



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