Wāhine Māori Pathways to support the wellbeing of women in prison


Budget 2021 shows the Government’s commitment to tackling the long-term challenge of Māori reoffending while putting the focus on the wellbeing of whānau, with the launch of Wāhine Māori Pathways at Christchurch Women’s Prison, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said today.

The Wāhine Māori Pathways are a series of initiatives designed in partnership with Māori to build better outcomes for women in Christchurch Women’s Prison.

“The Wāhine Māori Pathways recognise and respond to the specific needs of women in the criminal justice system, and will also improve wellbeing outcomes for tamariki and whānau alongside the women,” Kelvin Davis said.

“Our corrections system has largely been designed and developed to provide for men, however women have specific needs that require a unique approach and research shows that tailoring services to them will achieve better outcomes.

“This fulfils a key commitment in our election manifesto and expands our existing Māori Pathways programme.

“In three years, we have safely reduced the prison population by nearly 20 per cent. There are over 800 fewer Māori in prison. The Māori imprisonment rate has been decreasing, and Māori reconviction and reimprisonment rates are improving. The results show that what we are doing is working, but we need to sustain the progress we have made,” Kelvin Davis said. 

Māori Pathways a key part of Hōkai Rangi and involve government agencies and Māori working together to target long-term change.

The Government is investing $10.1 million over four years in the Wāhine Māori Pathways, the latest Māori Pathway programme to be announced, with work underway on initiatives at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison and Northland.

Wāhine Māori Pathways initiatives include:

  • A new Kaupapa Māori whānau-centred operating model
  • Culturally appropriate space for women and their families
  • Wraparound support delivering whānau-centred services to women and their families
  • Increased cultural practice for frontline staff working in prisons and the community
  • Kaupapa Māori programmes that are whakapapa and whānau-centred for women
  • Kaupapa Māori accommodation services

“Supporting women from when they enter the system to when they leave will help break the intergenerational cycle of Māori reoffending and enhance community safety and wellbeing,” Kelvin Davis said.

The Pathways have been designed with input from mana whenua Te Taumutu Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu, kaupapa Māori providers He Waka Tapu and Te Rūnanga o Ngā Maata Waka, Te Pūtahitanga Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency Southern Region and people with lived experience of the corrections system.

The Pathways will be available to women at Christchurch Women’s Prison and serving sentences and orders in the community, with priority for those who identify as Māori or have a connection though their children or whānau.