Māori King and Corrections to build centre for mothers

2:04 pm on 6 November 2018

The Māori King and the Department of Corrections will build a facility for mothers to reunite with their children who were taken by the state.

060814. Photo Diego Opatowski / RNZ. Maori King Tuheitia Paki at the Ranana marae in Whanganui.

In March 2017, Kiingi Tuheitia signed an Accord with the Department of Corrections to improve outcomes for Māori. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

It's part of an Accord they both signed in March last year to work together to reduce Māori reoffending.

The department's general manager cultural capability Neil Campbell said the Kiingitanga will share a section of land with Corrections to build a reintegration centre in Waikato.

"The plan is that we work with the Kiingitanga to establish a reintegration centre that allows mothers that have been separated from their children, and their children are now in care, to be reunited as part of the reintegration," he said.

"Not only do we get to work with mothers and their young children, but we get to work with those children as well."

Mr Campbell said it is expected that the centre will be able to have 24 women there at any given time. Support will be provided around education, work and housing.

"Those women will be provided with an environment that supports them and their tamariki to be reunited in a really positive way."

Corrections data shows there were 756 female prisoners in June 2017. More than half of them are Māori.

Head and shoulders shot of man infront of carved wooden Maori wall panel and carved  head.

Neil Campbell said the centre was expected to house 24 women at any given time. Photo: RNZ Insight / Leigh-Marama McLachlan

In March 2017, Kiingi Tuheitia signed an Accord with the Department of Corrections to improve outcomes for Māori.

The inspiration for this initiative came from King Tuheitia, Mr Campbell said, they have resources that they have been able to share.

"We are able to utilise that and put good operating environments on them, where our people can return to and get the type of manaaki [care] and tautoko [support] that they need for really successful reintegration."

"It is an exciting new model, a true partnership model of how a Māori entity and a government department can share resources as well as dreams and aspirations to achieve something that will be successful."

The Kiingitanga would not comment on the plans at this stage.