Prisoners' art sold to benefit refuge

By Lindy Laird

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Inmates from "the big house" at Ngawha have reached out their hands to another Northland house concerned with the shelter and repair of troubled lives - Kaitaia Women's Refuge centre, Whare Timatatanga Hou Ora.

Whare Timatatanga Hou Ora, which translates as "House for a new beginning", has been given more than $7000 from sales of artwork created by prisoners from Northland Region Corrections Facility (NRCF), also known as Ngawha Prison.

The prisoners' work was shown at InsideOut7, the seventh annual art exhibition of prisoners' work at Mairangi Art Centre in Auckland.

This acrylic painting called Tui sold for the $1000 in the Northland prisoners' art show.
This acrylic painting called Tui sold for the $1000 in the Northland prisoners' art show.

Whare Timatatanga Hou Ora's core business is domestic violence and abuse, and it is primarily a crisis intervention service, chief executive Waimaria Veza said.

"Many of the women who are and have been in our service have partners who were or are in Ngawha Correctional Facility," she said.

"We were shocked and humbled that our service has been recognised in this way by those men. How awesome that they chose to give us these proceeds," Ms Veza said.

"They're not telling us who did the artwork but I imagine some of those artists' partners or whanau members have personal experience of our service. It [the donation] shows us they've moved to another place, to an understanding of circumstances that our clients experience."

For Those Whom Have Served.
For Those Whom Have Served.

The highest prices in the InsideOut7 show were for two paintings by the same artist - Te Aho o Te Rangi Wharepu, an acrylic on board which sold for $1200, and Tui which sold for $1000.

The theme of the exhibition, which ran from April 9 to May 8, was History.

"With family violence in New Zealand in the spotlight, NRCF is grateful to the public who supported the prisoner art exhibition so generously to benefit Women's Refuge," said Dave Pattinson, NRCF prison director.

"The prison artists also feel privileged to be able to give back to the community through their art."

Ms Veza said the funds will be used for a programme reaching "an in-between and very vulnerable group" - youth living on an independent benefit as they cannot live with immediate family, and who are sometimes homeless.

"They're a group of people who are hard to fit into a 'basket'. They're not getting the advice, care or nurturing they need, not even basic living skills and personal care. We're like aunties to them, and we need to catch them before they get into danger."

- Northern Advocate

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