Research into the New Life Akoranga Programme of the Mahi Tahi Trust


The Mahi Tahi Trust works with prison inmates and their whanau (family), helping them to discover and recover traditional Maori principles, values and disciplines. The work is centred on four day, sleep in New Life Akoranga (NLA) sessions that are held in New Zealand prisons. This report presents the findings of two types of research conducted into the NLA programme: a qualitative study, based on observations and interviews with participants in prison and post release, which aimed to document how far the programme achieved its aim of helping prison inmates and their whanau to change their hearts and minds, outlook, behaviour and relationships; and a quantitative study, which aimed to examine the programme’s impact on participants’ subsequent offending behaviour by studying their reconviction and reimprisonment rates. The first study finds that the programme had a positive impact on participant behaviours and attitudes, including an increased sense of pride in being Maori, but that the extent to which these changes were maintained post release varied among participants. The second study concludes that the post release offending behaviour of inmates who completed the programme was not significantly different from a matched sample of inmates who did not complete the programme; however there is some evidence that completing the programme well before release may reduce inmates’ post release offending. The report also discusses the lessons for future practice.

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