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Pasifika focus on culture to reduce re-offending

19 July 2010

Sixteen prisoners recently graduated from the prison-based Malaga Polynesia Programme, run at Spring Hill Corrections Facility in Waikato.

Corrections’ Regional Adviser Pacific, Le’au Asenati Lole-Taylor, facilitates the programme, which has the theme of “a Polynesian journey in Samoa”.

“The programme helps the men reflect on their cultural backgrounds, whether they are from Samoa, Tonga, Niue or the Cook Islands, and how they can amalgamate their island identities within a New Zealand society,” Le’au Asenati Lole-Taylor says.

Moana Tipa, Prison Arts Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa, says the arts and culture are an intrinsic part of Pacific Island life.

“As with Māori and other indigenous peoples, cultural expression is the natural outcome of an already developed, highly creative aesthetic within these groups and communities,” Moana says.

“Programmes such as the Malaga Polynesia Programme offer this critical creative element that supports successful pathways of re-integration for Pacific Island prisoner populations.” 

Pacific Focus Unit

Thirteen of the prisoners who graduated are housed in the prison’s Pacific Focus Unit, the only unit of its type in New Zealand. The unit was built at Spring Hill to provide culturally based rehabilitation programmes for Pacific men convicted of serious violent offending.

Alongside the unit is the prison fale, a cultural space for running rehabilitation programmes or other activities. Prisoners attending the programme are also involved in other rehabilitation programmes and work activities to address the causes of their offending and provide them with the skills needed for a crime-free life following release from prison.

“Research has showed that interventions targeted at cultural identity are successful in reducing re-offending,” Le’au Asenati Lole-Taylor says. “This is enhanced by support for prisoners from their communities, which assists their re-integration from prison back to life in the community.”

 
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