We are delighted to share that Maia has joined PARS as a Support Administrator in the team she did her placement with. She has kindly shared a bit about the journey that led her to PARS.
While her own childhood was immersed in Te Ao Māori and felt blessed, Maia grew up aware that not everyone was so fortunate. She had witnessed firsthand the ways in which the New Zealand justice system fails vulnerable people, in particular Māori, and felt driven to learn about the factors that contribute to our country’s high offending and recidivism rates – the inequities, discrimination, and cultural insensitivity. She knew that if she was to be a part of creating solutions and bringing about change, she would need to fully understand the issues, and completing AUT’s BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice offered this opportunity. Maia says the sheer volume of information to be absorbed was overwhelming, and learning about colonisation, marginalisation and New Zealand’s long history of oppression reinforced that we have a long way to go to address a system that clearly isn’t working.
Maia considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to carry out her 150-hour placement with PARS, an organisation whose kaupapa Māori philosophy and commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi align so well with her own beliefs. The PARS approach to tangata of ‘one size fits one’, respecting that every individual is unique and requires plans personalised to their needs right now as well as their aspirations for the future, resonated deeply. She spent much of her time shadowing the Te Hokinga Mai – Raki team, observing their practices, soaking up their advice, and helping support tangata. It was a humbling experience that affirmed she’s on the right track to honour her calling.
Feeling inspired, Maia wanted to gift a meaningful taonga to PARS. She had noticed that the team needed to spend quite a lot of time on their computers, and knowing that the traditional use of poi was by warriors for strengthening their wrists, she felt that this would be a practical way to express her thanks. Under the tutelage of her mother, Maia handmade 15 pairs of poi for her PARS whānau as a symbol of her abiding gratitude.
For now, the future holds higher learning for Maia alongside her PARS role, and this year she has embarked on AUT’s Master of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her goal after graduating is to be involved in restorative justice on two levels – at the grassroots, focusing in the first instance on establishing accommodation support systems for wāhine on remand, and at the academic level, contributing to this complex conversation through writing about the issues, potential solutions and sustainable change.
* The Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice is the study of crime and its effects on victims and society, and the workings of the criminal justice system, including the police, courts and prisons.