Ninety-one per cent of Aotearoa New Zealand prisoners have been diagnosed with either a mental health or substance use disorder within their lifetime. Challenges exist in how to meet their needs. Diverse pūrākau (stories) of success in whānau ora (wellbeing) and stopping offending are missing from academic and public discourse that should direct law and policy changes.
Aims and objectives:
We describe a kaupapa Māori co-production project called He Ture Kia Tika/Let the Law be Right. We highlight how kaumātua (Māori indigenous elders), academics, and practitioners merged their voices with people with lived experiences of mental health, addiction, and incarceration to create justice policy and solutions.
We focus on the theory and application of our co-production, directed by kaupapa Māori methodology. We describe the work of a co-design group that actively guides the project, from inception towards completion, using rangahau kawa (research protocols) as culturally clear guidelines and ethically safe practices. We then detail our processes involved in the collection of co-created pūrākau (storytelling) with 40 whānau (family) participants, and describe our continued collaboration to ensure law and policy recommendations are centred on lived experiences.
Kaupapa Māori informed co-production ensured rangahau kawa (research protocol and guidelines) were created that gave clear direction for an engagement at all levels of the project. We see this as bringing to life co-production, moving beyond theory to the practicalities of ‘being’ and ‘doing’ with each other in safe, ethical ways for all.
Discussions and conclusions:
A strong association exists between unmet mental health needs and reoffending. Tackling cultural, health, social and justice issues requires a multi-layered approach from a range of rangatira (leaders including kaumātua/elders) and tohunga, or experts, of their lived experiences to inform future policy and law reform.