A former inmate working with local NGO Second Chance says he is pleased to be getting renovation jobs. 21021926.
Over a period of 17 years, Mr X, a repeat offender, lived eight years of his life locked up in Arorangi prison. The former inmate was released three months ago, this time around he stands determined not to reoffend and not to ever return “inside”.
He is turning over a new leaf with motivation and support
from the Second Chance Support Group Inc. – a new non-governmental organisation
(NGO) formed to provide support services to inmates upon their release and
assist them towards rehabilitation.
Mr X says the Second Chance organisation is a blessing for
repeat offenders like him who find it hard to start a new life after prison.
“Second Chance is not just good – it’s perfect,” he says.
Every time he was released, Mr X was subjected to the stigma
of being a “prisoner” and the topic of blatant demeaning conversations.
“For a guy like me who has been in and out of prison, the
biggest downfall for me, for a start, is the community around us.
“They don’t have to say anything, but the way they look at
you and talk about you. And there’s nothing good about it, it’s all bad things
they say, but I don’t blame them for that because we did bad things.
“Being in there inside we are together as one, but when you
come out, you’re alone and to make it worse the real world is out here.”
Not being a Cook Islander, Mr X has no family – apart from
his partner and their three children.
“For myself I have no family I’m not from here - at times I
felt like that’s the first thing I need… And when I see Cook Islanders the way
they look at me, I think you got the same bad stuff I have, people have the bad
stuff I have. Why do they deny them (the boys inside), they made mistakes.
“That’s why I say this Group is perfect. When the boys come
out and their family deny them, this is something for them to turn to.
“For 17 years, no one’s done this before like this Group.
I’m going to be behind this Group 100 per cent and watch them grow.”
A good supportive turnout from members of the public at the inaugural meeting to form the Second Chance Inc. organization. 21021930.
Mr X says 30 per cent of the “boys” at Arorangi Prison need
a roof over their head when they are released.
“For a young guy, he’s more worried about where he’s going
to stay than anything else. It’s always been, even the asking around before
they are released, even asking a warden - can I stay with you? It’s always been
Repeat offenders usually don’t have a home, food or a job
when they are released, so they begin to roam the streets again, he says.
“Inside there we have food. But outside some only have one
meal a day so there’s already a chance or a cause in their mind to commit
And he disagrees with talk about educating the boys as soon
as they are released.
“These guys been locked up for years - how can you get them
to study if you don’t have a home and you don’t have anything to eat?
“If you give them a place, food and a job for three months,
man, that’s a big step up, that’s a big help, I’m sure it will make a change.
“I’m not saying it will happen straightaway or it’s going to
work, but that’s a point the Group can look at.
“If Second Chance can provide them a place to stay to get
them started, they should be ok. If this Group reaches that stage, I’ll die a
He admits his troublesome past was more about impressing his
friends, “trust me no one forced me to do it. I did crazy things and I end up
inside – committing a crime was nothing to me.”
Now a free man, “this time I have no excuses to commit
another crime, my kids have grown up and it’s time to do something for them.”
Good with his hands, he considers himself lucky he can get
work renovating or building.
On his release, he paid for his own accommodation at $70 a
week, he has kept working and now rents a home for $200 a week. ‘It’s a good
feeling,” he says.
He can’t help praising the Group, “it’s fantastic it’s the
first time I’ve seen something like it, I’d love to see things move.
“Now there’s a hope for people like us coming out, and
meeting Terry (Rangi) and other people is positive stuff.
“Even for myself, being around these guys (Second Chance)
makes me feel like I got a family and that’s good.”
For the first time, Dorise Tschan has taken on a former
inmate, Rima as worker to help with landscaping.
She is immensely proud and appreciative of the work he has
Aware of the disapproving and negative attitudes from
members of the community, she was happy to voice her support to give released
inmates another chance to better their livelihoods.
“It’s the expectance of the work that they do, which is
quite sad. Work is just thrown at them and people just expect it to get done,”
“You have to treat the boys like you would want to be
treated. They’re quite talented and like to do things efficiently and I’m more
Excited to be a part of Second Chance, she looks forward to
the transition and is eager to see their lives change.
Rima has a young family and Tschan worries about them – how
they are dealing with school, medical care, clothing, utility bills and so on.
She has reassured Rima that if his family get sick, he does
not have to explain himself, “I say to him, just let me know and I’ll help in
whatever way I can.
“The basic things become great for them and we will need to
give them that, we need to help and support them.”
She has also applied for the wage subsidy for Rima, but has
heard nothing back.
“Even if he’s a former inmate, they all should still be
given that right for the wage subsidy.
“Already, when you
show negativity towards them, they feel it. Who would be willing to show you
what they can do to restart their life again when you steal that away from
them? They lose the power of wanting to be part of society and that’s how
they’ll see themselves for their future.”
Tschan encourages Rima to share what’s on his mind and to
ask for help or advice if needed.
She has also delved into her personal experiences to share a
bit to him to help him see he is not alone.
“I looked at the downfalls of my own journey. It was the
little things I appreciated from someone that stood by me and never gave up on
me. So I went ahead and did those things for Rima knowing he would appreciate
“I’m so proud of him, I say to him don’t be shy, we’re both
in this together. I hope that he does enjoy working for me, so far so good and
his work is beyond my expectations.”
Tschan hopes others will take the chance to work with the
boys and employ them and to support Second Chance.
“This time they are made to feel part of their future, and
appreciation is always the main key for anything.”
President of the Second Chance management board, Ioana Taiki
is happy to be part of the team saying “this Group is a tool to enable change
in the released inmates for a better livelihood”.
“They have to respect, believe and trust in themselves, if
they do that they will focus and have an outcome where they can look after
their family, especially their children.”
Taiki says something needs to be done to address and discuss
options to support and help with the rehabilitation of inmates.
“We can’t just rely on government,” says Taiki.
Aware that it will take some time for the Group to get into
gear, Taiki hopes the inmates will now have a better outlook for when they get
“I hope that the community will support this, the boys are
already out there working in the community and are not sitting around.”
Second Chance’s chief executive Terry Rangi has been in
discussions with Mike Williams from the New Zealand Howard League for Penal
“We’re looking to collaborate, share experiences and
establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with them,” says Rangi. “We will
need funding support to set up an office with resources and while that will
require some ongoing investment for a period of time, this organisation can be
sustainable and generate its own revenue to sustain itself.
“If we don’t do anything the social cost from crime will
impact everyone in our community, not to mention the financial cost to
businesses and individuals. There is no one simple fix and we can learn from the
experiences of Maori and Pacific Islanders in New Zealand.”
If anyone is looking for services to do their lawns and
maintenance and want to give former inmates a second chance, contact Terry
Rangi at phone 54299.