Raukura Hauora o Tainui kaimahi work symbiotically with the Department of Corrections to help reintegrate men in their care who are due to be released from Spring Hill Corrections Facility.
Raukura kaimahi work with up to 16 men at any one time. The men are based at Te Whare Oranga Ake, a unit outside the perimeter of Spring Hill prison. It is there that they spend time building rapport with the men through kai, waiata and koorero as they help them work through their guided release applications.
The support the kaimahi provide can include assisting with job placement as part of their Return to Work programme or liaising with Work and Income to arrange a benefit; connecting them with appropriate community and health services; helping the men to reconnect with whaanau, and assisting with other programmes such as training and education.
The kaimahi also provide support following the men’s release into the community, checking in with them regularly to ensure they are managing and to see what additional support they might require.
“This is a transition phase for these men … reintegrating into a community that may seem really foreign to them,” said kaimahi Joseph Kaponga.
“We’re talking about men who’ve been in prison a long time… they may not be familiar with using an eftpos card or understand how to use internet banking. Things like can be a real shock so we help them with those life skills – things like budgeting and cooking.
“We’re also mindful about helping them connect with their whanau and community again…making sure the relationships they want to foster are the right kind. Sometimes it might not be the right choice to go back to the family home so we can help them with alternative accommodation choices.”
The time the men spend in the whare differs depending on how long they’ve spent in prison and how much support they need to reintegrate.
“This mahi is incredibly fulfilling,” Joseph said.
“To see these men leave here, reintegrate back into their communities and find a new path in life is really special.”