October 08, 2018
Grizzly bear guards for indigenous prison
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says New Zealand seems to be playing catch up when it comes to instilling indigenous cultural values into the prison system.
He’s just back from a tour of prisons and rehabilitation centres in California and British Columbia, and was impressed with some novel ideas for housing former inmates that are leading to extremely low reoffending rates.
He also visited an indigenous prison in Canada where the guard don’t wear uniforms and there were no walls.
"People could walk out of there except for the fact it's up in the mountains and they would probably be eaten by grizzly bears if they did decide to walk out. They had a longhouse which is the equivalent I guess to one of our wharenui, our whare tupuna, where they do all their ceremonies, they have a sweatlodge, they learn about themselves as indigenous people, reconnect with themselves culturally, spiritually, an absolutely amazing facility that I'd love to see something like that done here but I don't think New Zealand is really ready for that to be honest," Mr Davis says.
He says a start could be taking the existing idea of Whare Oranga Ake and moving them away from the prison setting.
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