Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has announced an inter-prison kapa haka competition involving up to 18 prisons nationwide.
It comes after a successful pilot scheme involving eight prisons during Covid-19 last year.
Davis said the initiative aims to connect prisoners with their whakapapa while offering a trophy as an incentive for the overall winner.
The winner of the Manukura Wāhine category was Wellington’s Arohata Prison, based in Tawa.
1 NEWS spoke to one of Arohata’s prisoners, who cannot be identified for safety reasons.
The prisoner said kapa haka taught her a lot about herself and her genealogy.
“We come in as individuals, but when we come in as a group we all give a bit of energy and come in as one, I think that’s what I really like about it,” she said.
Arohata Prison’s Director Pippa Carey said she was “immensely” proud of her wāhine.
“They worked along with our staff, amongst the group, and they did an amazing job,” Carey said.
Corrections staff said during last year’s competition they saw a “significant reduction” in incidents at the Northland Region Corrections Facility.
“There were fifteen incidents in May 2020, nine in June 2020, but only five incidents in the months spent preparing for the competition,” said acting residential manager Simon Braiden.
“The kapa haka competition had a positive impact on the relationship between staff and prisoners, with staff and prisoners from various parts of the prisons working together to ensure the performance was a success,” a Corrections spokesperson said.
Davis visited Arohata Prison in Tawa, to announce this year’s kapa haka theme, whanau.
“It’s a great way for men, women and staff to come together and learn something new, connect prisoners to their culture and heritage, and provide a positive environment that may help with rehabilitation,” Davis said.
This year’s performances are likely to be judged by local iwi and other kapa haka experts attending live performances in June and July.
Davis also said there’s a possibility that prisoner’s families may be able to come and watch too.
“The performances and results of the competition will be filmed and played on Prison TV and as per protocol, tāne will be able to view tāne and wāhine will be able to view wāhine,” Davis said.
The winner of the 2021 inter-prison kapa haka competition will be announced in August.