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Supporting offenders into Employment – Kaupapa Māori Case Studies

Supporting Offenders into Employment (SOE) is a joint initiative between MSD and Department of Corrections that is trialling new ways to support people as they transition from prison into sustainable employment. SOE involves engaging with a person before they leave prison, on-going support after release, and up to a year after they enter employment.

Three service delivery approaches have been trialled:

  • Intensive reintegration – an externally contracted service through Salvation Army’s ‘Making Life Work’ programme in Christchurch.
  • multi-disciplinary teams – an externally contracted service through the Workwise ‘Working Together Canterbury’ programme.
  • MSD intensive case management – this service is delivered in four MSD service centres in the North Island.

Phase 1 SOE services began in 2016, and will run until end June 2020. Interviews for the case studies were kanohi-ki-te-kanohi (face-to-face), and the research team used Kaupapa Māori research methods such as mihimihi (introductions), acknowledging whakapapa, whanaungatanga (establishing relationships), and acting in mana-enhancing ways with all participants.


Comments from case study participants suggest the service is operating as intended and supporting clients into employment. Most of the clients who were interviewed said the SOE service was one of the most “positive” support service experiences they’d ever had. This was attributed to a relationship-based approach between case manager and client, where both parties were invested in the trial goals.

Holistic practice models helped clients negotiate reintegrating into society in several areas (such as health, accommodation, relationships with whanau etc) - not just employment.

When the themes from the case studies were viewed through a tikanga Māori lens, the following five tikanga emerged as enablers of success in the SOE service:

  • Whakawhanaungatanga:The engaging and fostering of relationships
  • Manaakitanga: Being treated with care, compassion and kindness
  • Mana Tangata: Building and nurturing the mana (authority) of clients, treating them with respect, and recognising their dignity
  • Rangatiratanga: Developing leadership, independence, personal autonomy, and control
  • Kaitiakitanga: Providing ethical, protective and supportive guardianship and stewardship of clients’ wellbeing throughout their journey.

Additional funding has been secured for Phase 2 of the Supporting Offenders into Employment trial. Phase 2 will be evaluated when the service is underway.

For enquiries about this research please email research@msd.govt.nz.