25 Jul 2012

Inmate says te reo has opened his eyes

6:32 am on 25 July 2012

An inmate at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison says learning te reo Maori and tikanga has opened his eyes, and is inspiring him to pursue a more positive future after he's released.

The jail places special focus on language and customs in someof the programmes it runs.

In 1997, it set up a Maori Focus Unit or Te Whare Tirohanga Maori.

A prisoner in the unit, Valentine, says before going to prison his life was centred on getting money.

But now, he says the programme's taught him about who he is, and says te reo has filled a hole, and has given him the insight to see clearly.

He says when he's released, he wants to return home and be more involved with his children, who are already immersed in te reo.

He's also considering learning another language.