Outcomes of the Reconnect Korowai Mentoring Programme
Reconnect Korowai Mentoring is a one-on-one Maori youth justice programme, which aims to reduce reoffending by restoring personal mana and cultural identity. Working with both female and male clients, the programme runs for 12 weeks for young people between 14-17 years of age.
Clients on the programme are required to complete their Family Group Conference (FGC) or court orders and hail from backgrounds of crime, negative family dynamics and poor mental health.
Run to Tikanga, Reconnect Korowai Mentoring is a supervised, activities-based programme for young people.
Referred through CY&F, young people are guided through the programme with a one-on-one mentor, who supervises and teaches the client between 9am-3pm, Monday to Friday.
A personal plan is developed for the young person, which is comprised of life skills ranging from personal fitness, budgeting and stopping smoking, through to socially acceptable behaviours and self-confidence, accountability for past crimes, positive role modelling and identification of emotionally dysfunctional behaviour.
Based on a four-point system, clients on the programme are required to complete:
- Creative Works, where they gift art back to the Reconnect Korowai Mentoring community;
- Effects of Crime, which includes apologising to victims and the recognition of consequences for their whanau and community;
- Vision Boarding, where the client creates an item of self-reflection;
- and Cultural Identity, where they learn about their cultural history and values.
This holistic system helps heal the young person socially, psychologically, physically and spiritually, in an effort to guide them towards self-awareness and attainment of positive goals.
The cultural aspect of the Reconnect Korowai Mentoring programme is one of the key indicators of its success. By making clients aware of their cultural history and restoring mana, personal mentors help clients create a positive identity they can take forward into the future. Engaging clients in twenty-minute karakias, pepeha, kapa haka and language projects, as well as teaching basic Maori values and myths and legends, the programme helps young people feel involved and engaged in regular pro-social activities.
The curriculum also requires each young person and their mentor to present and lead a tikanga for the day, instilling leadership and ownership qualities in a positive manner. Environmental projects through Twin Streams and rugby games with local police see young people positively engage with groups from whom they were previously alienated.
Working as communicators for progress on FGC and court orders is also a focus of the Reconnect Korowai Mentoring programme. The sending of weekly reports to Child, Youth and Family (CY&F), the client’s Youth Aid officer and youth advocates are promptly fulfilled, as are discussions with CY&F around issues of concern, programme end dates and discharge forms and exit folders.
The programme’s mentors are given sections of these discharge reports to evaluate their experience upon, and are provided with First Aid and non-violent crisis intervention training before commencing work on the programme. Client mentors also attend relevant CY&F and CADs appointments and offer kaumatua support at Youth, Marae or Pasifica courts and FGC meetings.
Catering to the needs of 32 clients a year, Reconnect Korowai Mentoring works with the family of the client to provide a safe and educational zone to help transition them back into society.
From the time the young person is picked up from their bail address to the time they are dropped off, the client is taught basic skills to achieve their life goals, reintegrated in community group activities, and psychologically mentored through difficulties arising from their past.
A completion graduation is held for the young person not only to celebrate their progress, but to celebrate reduced reoffending within the community.
Interviews with young people on the programme in their own words.
What did you learn at Korowai?
How to be in more control of myself. I learnt many things and learnt that’s there people out there to help us even know how bad sum of us could be.
How would you make the programme better?
The program was good anuf as it is, it was the best program that’s kept me out of trouble.
What did you like best about Korowai?
The best thing I liked was that our workers didn’t treat us like school kids or little ass holes they treated us like mates and showed us much respect.
Since being on the programme, what have you learnt about Tikanga and what does it mean to you now?
I learnt a few knew things, but knowing tikanga is everything for Māoris. I think if you know where your from and your roots then you know who you are.
Are there any final words you would like to say to your youth worker?
I would just like to say thank you (youthworker’s name) and the team for everything yous have done for me i very much will miss it here, But i am really thank for for what yous have done for me.