The Far North was well represented at last night's presentation of the 2018 Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards.

The awards were presented by Arts Access Aotearoa at a function in Parliament's Banquet Hall, hosted by Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni.

The Arts Access Accolade was was won by Beth Hill, programme leader for arts, self-directed learning and living skills at the Northland Regional Corrections Facility (Ngāwhā prison), recognising her support for providing access to the arts for prisoners.

Unlike the other awards decided by a judging panel, the Arts Access Accolade is chosen by the organisation's staff and board. Executive director Richard Benge said that without Ms Hill's consistent pushing of boundaries to ensure access to the arts at the prison the programme would not have developed to the standard it had achieved.


"Beth has been courageous in her collaborations with Arts Access Aotearoa, and has taken many leaps of faith to make our projects succeed beyond what we thought was possible for the performing arts and for the provision of access to the arts in a prison environment," he said.

Bundy Waitai and Arrin Clark received Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Awards for their cultural programmes at Ngāwhā.

"Big hearts, big impact," the judges said. "Bundy and Arrin are the kaitiaki of tikanga at the Northland Region Corrections Facility. Their cultural programmes empower the men to reconnect with their culture, gain a sense of identity and make positive change."

The prison had been set up as a cultural site rather than having specialist Māori Focus units. Bundy and Arrin delivered its cultural programmes and ensured tikanga was consistent with Ngāpuhi.

"It is important for prisoners' rehabilitation that those who identify as Māori have the opportunity to reconnect with their culture, and in doing so find their identity and whakapapa," a prison spokesman said.

Mr Waitai had developed a Māori performing arts programme and was the kaiako for the te reo Māori course, and had been instrumental in developing tikanga for the prison.

Mr Clark delivered cultural programmes focused on rehabilitation. He had been involved with NRCF for the past decade, and had been responsible for keeping tikanga alive and healthy.

"NRCF considers itself fortunate to have two kaumātua on-site who are the kaitiaki of tikanga. They not only teach but demonstrate manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, rangatiratanga and wairuatanga," he said.