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Gifting of the name Kohuora to the men’s prison at Wiri

A response to the article in the below link regarding the gifting of the name Kohuora by Mana Whenua iwi, Te Akitai Waiohua to the men’s prison at Wiri.

KOHUORA "coming out of the mist into the new world of the living"

We wish to acknowledge Te Akitai Waiohua’s gifting of the name Kohuora for the $300 million, 850-bed men's facility at Wiri. (Herald, 15 June) It is unfortunate that the Act Party and the Sensible Sentencing Trust have chosen to hit the old ‘political correctness’ button. For those of us who actually live and work around the new facility, the name provides an opportunity to try and develop further a relationship based on the imposition of a correctional facility in our back yard.

Kenneth Wang and Ruth Money do not live near the prison, we do. Unlike Mr Wang and Ms Money, we have a constructive relationship with mana whenua. Unlike those remote commentators, we will deal first-hand with the impact of this facility on the community where we live.

Excuse us if we label their critique for what it is: uninformed and cheap.

Despite a significant reduction in recorded criminal offending in recent years, crime affects our community just as it affects every community in this country.

While no one wants a prison built in an industrial neighbourhood close to them, Manurewa has a new men’s prison being built next to an existing women’s facility. We have two such institutions in our back yard, and we have to deal with the consequences of these prisoners living in close proximity.

The Manurewa Local Board made a decision to work constructively with Mana Whenua and with prison operator, Serco. Our goal has been to secure contracts and job opportunities for local businesses throughout the initial construction as well as the ongoing operation of the facilities.

We have also secured agreement in principle to the future prisoners to ‘donate’ their sweat back to the community by helping to remove mangroves consented for removal from the nearby Puhinui Inlet.

Maori are grossly overrepresented in incarceration statistics in this country. Thank goodness Mana Whenua are stepping up and helping to take responsibility for the governance of a facility rather than handing in over to a bureaucratic monolith like a government department.

We are surprised; frankly, that the Act Party would have a problem with a model based on private management, local contracting, and rehabilitation through hard work and sweat for wider community good.

We challenge Mr Wang, Ms Money and any other doubters to join with us in Manurewa to walk through a journey that we did not choose but which we are forced to embark upon. It has not been an easy option.

Headlines are cheap, but action delivers the potential for a positive outcome. And positive outcomes are what Wiri and the wider Manurewa community deserves.

TeRata Rangi Hikairo
Manurewa Resident Tamaki Makaurau

Rangi McLean
Maori Party Candidate

Angela Dalton
Manurewa Local Board

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