It’s not often we get to lift our heads in life.
To look up from what is directly in front of us and take stock of what has happened over the last year.
On Friday 15th November, we marked a year of the Navigate Initiative - Reintegrative Community.
The first of its kind in New Zealand, this initiative involves Pathway working closely in partnership with the Department of Corrections, advisors and many community groups.
Together our work is dedicated to supporting men, the “Tu Ora", prepare to make a fresh start when they step out of prison and back into our communities.
For this type of programme to fulfill its potential requires a wide range of partners to come together, and places trust on each of them to deliver their piece of a wider plan.
For us and the other groups involved, that means providing the best quality services and support we can. Working to ensure the funding is in place and the safeguards are there.
For the Tu Ora it means being dedicated each day to changing their lives, preparing for what lies ahead and challenging themselves.
This day marked a moment when everyone was able to look up from their piece and reflect on what we have collectively achieved.
Inside Christchurch Men’s prison, within the Navigate Initiative unit, we came together for a hāngī.
Our reintegration team, Department of Corrections, supporting partners, the wider Pathway and Alloyfold staff and the Tu Ora, sat down, shoulder to shoulder and shared a meal in the spring sunshine.
It was a moment when everyone was on equal ground; part of the same community.
Jo Harrex, Prison Director, speaking openly to everyone attending, emphasised just how important this community is and how much the prison team and the Department of Corrections value the NI.
For everyone present it was clear why; the positive outcomes of the initiative were in plain sight. The evidence that it was changing lives right in front of us all.
Corrections staff, the Tu Ora and the Pathway team, joined in song. Individuals exchanged stories and spoke about their lives and families.
The Tu Ora, who supported this event from conception to delivery, shared their unique prison journeys and the preparations they were making for life down the road. Some spoke of how they had to honestly assess the steps that led to making past mistakes. Others, how they were learning to express their emotions and past experiences through song, writing and art, all of which was on display.
“Put on your korowai of education” one member of the Tu Ora read aloud.
“Love and peace will navigate you through.”
Music played and as the day closed we returned to focus on the individual parts we play in this initiative.
More committed than ever to the bigger picture and to our community.
On parting, Jo Harrex summed it up pretty well… “we should do this more often.''
As always flying kites and praying for wind,
Pathway Reintegration Manager
Thanks need to go…
A hāngī, especially one as unique as this, only happens with dedication and trust.
The Tu Ora were involved in every step, preparing the food, setting up the space and cleaning up afterwards. The Corrections management and staff backed the idea and worked to ensure it happened.
Individual thanks need to be given to:
Pierre Kickhefer, Kitchen Manager
All of the Tirohanga Paeroa staff
Johnathan Bonnett and all the Custodial Support Unit (CSU) Staff
All of the farm team