September 08, 2020
Kiwirail scheme track to rehabilitation
Kiwirail head Greg Miller says a programme to employ former prisoners is a way to return mana and purpose to people who need to find a way to rejoin society.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced funding of $640,000 over two years for the programme to train and support 20 prisoners from the Northern Regional Corrections Facility at Ngāwhā who will work for the company on work release.
Mr Miller says the use of prison labour goes back to the roots of rail in New Zealand, when prisoners built much of the first 5000 kilometres of track.
He says Kiwirail’s cultural network, Te Kupenga Mahi, and its kaumātua group will be involved in mentoring the workers.
"We’ve taken a te ao Māori vision, linked it to Kiwirail and linked it through the Provincial Growth Fund to the prison programme and Corrections and the Second Steps programme is a chance to give those prisoners a real work opportunity with new skills and a chance to get back into the community with some pride and mana, that hopefully they stay the course, and that's the whole objective, get a real job doing real work with people that will have some pastoral care and some involvement in your reintegration," Mr Miller says.
After six months the five trainees will be taken on full time if suitable and another five recruited into the programme.
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