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Striving for growth

22 September 2021
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Hōkai Rangi is centred on the needs and aspirations of people in prison and supporting them to achieve the necessary skills and education for successful reintegration back into the community. The Horticulture Programme run at Papa Oranga Nursery in Northland Region Corrections Facility (NRCF) is making a fantastic contribution towards this vision.

Within the last three years, the Horticulture Programme has seen 133 tāne qualified with a NZ Certificate in Primary Industry Skills (Level 2), a National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3) and a NZ Certificate in Land Based Sustainability Practices (Level 3)

Corrections Officer Johan Bosch who joined the Horticulture team in 2016 says this is a major achievement for NRCF to have expanded so much since it started. Realising potential opportunities in the horticulture industry for tāne, Johan advocated enrolling tāne with NorthTec to achieve higher level qualifications. He aims to have 200 tāne qualified by the end of 2022.

Prior to the latest COVID-19 Alert Level lockdown, the Papa Oranga Nursery has helped to regenerate more than 60 species of native plants and donated more than 73,000 native plants to hapū, schools, community groups, councils and local stream organisations. This year the team have already exceeded their goal of producing 45,000 native plants by 16% with potentially 137,000 seedlings still to come. They’ve also introduced a new Bonsai project to the nursery giving tāne something new to learn with a range of unit standards credited to their record of achievement.

One of the key initiatives NRCF has been supporting is the propagation of seedlings provided by local mana whenua Ngati Rangi to be replanted back into their local community projects. These seedlings will help to restore their whenua, local waterways and build their hapū capability and capacity.

"Ngati Rangi hapū appreciate and respect the work that Johan and his team/Horticulture Programme have achieved within the nursery. The significance of safeguarding the whakapapa of our rakau within our rohe is a living success” – Josephine Clarke and Liliana Clarke.

Tāne experiencing learning difficulties are supported by mentors who are always available to assist in the classroom and the nursery/garden. Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, there are two mentors and eight students in the classroom working towards accreditation.

Johan says: “Our mentors are great!! Some guys really struggle to read and write, even for those who’ve done the ILN courses… There is often a fear of judgement and there can be a bit of resistance if WE try to help. It’s much easier for them to work with other tāne/mentors, rather than an officer”.

One mentor who passed all his courses with distinction is passionate about the environment and says he is proud to be part of a team that supports community rejuvenation and restoration projects around Northland. “All these plants are going out to help restore our native natural environment and they’re ensuring ecological, economic and social benefit for the present and future of New Zealand. Not forgetting reducing CO2 levels, creating cool breathable air. This is something I will take with me when I leave NRCF and carry on”.

Another mentor says his incarceration was difficult at first but being a part of something constructive and productive has really helped. “I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the growing of produce and how satisfying it actually is… Learning about the environment and being more self-sufficient to grow our own gardens has really triggered something in me to want to learn more. Working here is like a little oasis… you can almost pretend you’re not in prison for a few hours a day. My family and friends said they’ve noticed the difference with me too. They were concerned that I had become quite flat in the beginning, like the spark had gone and it was noticeable I had bounced back after a period of time being down here”.

Are you a interested in Programmes and Rehabilitation?

Employment activities, rehabilitation, educational and support programmes to help reduce re-offending rates.

Rehabilitation programmes include motivation to change, cognitive-behavioural interventions and general skills to help offenders to lead crime-free lives. Employment opportunities give offenders the chance to develop work habits and gain skills and qualifications that will lead to sustainable employment.

Learn more about a career with us.

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A new Bonsai project gives tāne something new to learn.

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The Papa Oranga Nursery has helped to regenerate more than 60 species of native plants.

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The Horticulture programme is run at Papa Oranga Nursery.

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[L-R] CO Johan Bosch with Ngāti Rangi representatives Josephine Clarke, Rereata Makiha and Liliana Clarke.

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These seedlings will help to restore local waterways and other community projects.