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Getting off to a great start at Manawatū Prison

28 July 2022
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Growing up on a farm and spending most of her life working in agriculture and teaching, Alex Coutanche never expected to be working as a Corrections Officer/ Āpiha Whare Herehere. But now that she’s there, she wouldn’t turn back.

“I can see so many career development pathways - you can move up, sideways, diagonal, across.”

Alex is a new graduate at Manawatū Prison, starting out after nine weeks of paid training. But already she says that it’s the most fun that she’s ever had in her career.

She credits a lot of her experience to her team at Manawatū Prison and the people that she met during training, saying that the positivity and support in her team has been huge in helping her to settle into the role.

“There’s something that we all have in common, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, then one day it just clicked for me that it’s people’s attitude – a lot of the people here just have a really good, positive attitude.

There’s a lot of vitality around, a lot of positivity. Everyone’s behind each other.

I’ve had a couple of female Corrections Officers who have taken me under their wing, and I’ve been so grateful for that. They’re kind, they’re thorough, they’re experienced - that’s what I want to role model as well so learning off them was fantastic.”

While much of it has been fun, there’s also been some very meaningful moments for Alex. She says that what she learnt during her training will be useful to her for the rest of her life.

“The fact that I feel like I can go for a run now at night with my earphones in and feel like I could defend myself is huge. Even being able to talk someone down… it’s skills that you can utilise in all aspects of life.”

On an even deeper level, working at Ara Poutama Aotearoa has given her a passion for helping people in their journeys to positive change.

“It’s one of the most rewarding things, being able to make a difference in someone’s life…

"If you want our society to be better and more functioning, you’ve gotta change it now. We’ve got to make that difference with the future parents and grandparents, because those people are raising the next generation.”

Alex says she’s looking forward to making that difference at Ara Poutama Aotearoa, forging a great career and building strong friendships along the way.

“It’s not a career that I would have ever thought of, but I tell you what, I wouldn’t be working anywhere else. Not just the availability of progression, the job possibilities – if you can think of it, there’s probably a job for it in Corrections, but also the people, the like-minded, positive attitudes and the trust and camaraderie that you build with these people will stay with you for life. And for me, that’s second to none.”


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