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Launch of Prisoners’ Aid Society booklets

Hon Tariana Turia

21 February 2003 Speech Notes

Launch of Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Society booklets

NZPARS Office, corner Eastbourne &Market Street, Hastings

E nga mana, e nga reo, tena koutou katoa.

Thank you for your invitation to be here today, to celebrate the launch of your new booklets: ‘After Arrest’ and ‘Mum or Dad in Prison – a Guide for Caregivers’

The work you do with prisoners and their whanau, while they are in prison and afterwards, has earned PARS enormous respect, so your invitation to me is a real honour.

To have information regarding the processes you are subject to and your rights, from the point of arrest to incarceration, is invaluable. It assists whanau members to understand, even if they don’t agree. It is empowering for all involved, and PARS are to be congratulated on your foresight and commitment.

Going into the prison environment is traumatic enough for families and friends of inmates. To know, in times of great stress, that there is someone who cares, who will listen, will understand and will assist and support, is a great relief for both inmates and family.

I think the great strength of PARS is a non-judgemental, compassionate approach, combined with very practical forms of assistance.

The booklets are for family members, to help them cope with the immediate crisis of arrest or imprisonment, and for caregivers to help children to come to terms with a parent being imprisoned.

Losing a parent to prison is like a death for all concerned, so understanding is critical for children who feel isolated and full of grief. The advice on supportive parenting is actually important for all families and caregivers, regardless of their situation.

The whole issue of tangata whenua in prisons, and prison in the lives of tangata whenua, is pretty complex.

At the practical level, PARS offers the same support to all prisoners, according to their needs.

At the same time, I know there are PARS organisations who recognise there are deeper issues, and have engaged with local iwi in an effort to address those issues in a constructive way. Some even have protocols for how PARS will work with iwi organisations to support Maori prisoners and their whanau.

In the long run, these kinds of relationships, based on mutual recognition and respect and operating in a whanau environment, may do as much to break cycles of offending and imprisonment, as any official policy.

I fully support your approach, and I am sure these booklets will enable PARS to go on providing essential support to prisoners and their families.

No reira, kia kaha koutou, kia ora tatou katoa.

ENDS

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