Preparing for parole through music

Music bars behind bars

by Mike Isle

During the past six weeks, musicians from the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and a group of participants from the Christchurch Men’s Prison in Rolleston have been working together on several music projects for the orchestra’s Karawhiua Arts Programme.

Launched in October 2017, the programme is a partnership between Corrections and Pathway Trust aimed to strengthen the preparedness of prisoners for parole.

The programme covers practical life and employment skills as well as the chance to discover and develop different interests in life such as art and music.

“Everybody needs to find something in their life that they are good at and enjoy, that they feel they can have a future in, and that has meaning for them,” explained Carey Ewing, Pathway reintegration manager.

“Being able to show yourself you can gain mastery of something and then being recognised for being able to do that is important for anybody to be complete. This programme gives the men the opportunity to experience that. The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s Karawhiua Arts Programme is one of those conduits.”

The prison director for Christchurch Men’s Prison Jo Harrex said that there is a great deal of latent talent in our prisons and activities such as the music collaboration supported offender rehabilitation and are popular pastimes for individuals and groups in our services.

“Through this music programme with the orchestra, the men are learning that while each individual has an important part to play. It is as a group working together that we can create something really special.”

At the end of the programme, the participants celebrated their achievements in a showcase concert for Corrections staff and invited guests.

The CSO’s Community Engagement Programme is sponsored by Beca.