I hope Billy Macfarlane pulls it off.

The rehabilitation programme aimed at high-risk reoffenders that he is set to launch shortly.

The course is in two parts over 12 months.

The first six months is connecting to, and being immersed, in Maori culture.


The second six months is about follow up and being mentored and supported in the community.

From his own former offending background Billy knows that what is currently served up as courses and programmes for reoffenders doesn't serve the purpose of rehabilitation.

These do not have the potential for success that Billy's programme could have.

We are so familiar with New Zealand's abysmal reoffending numbers. I am told prison officers take bets on long it will be before the same prisoner reappears at the prison front gate to be locked up again.

In the past six years I have got to know more about the courses and programmes being offered to men locked away in prisons in New Zealand.

The feedback I get is the programmes are of no lasting value. Two of my friends, both locked away for serious drug related charges, have completed everything on offer. They were so underwhelmed with what was provided.

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One like Billy, put together a rehabilitation programme based on what he saw as the gaps. He too wants to see lasting change so the men can be reintegrated into their community. His programme has no cultural content.

My friends were businessmen, well-educated and articulate. Their view is that our prison service is screwed.

They couldn't believe we have a system that just accepts "things are as they are in here and this is how we do it" no matter how unsuitable and ill-chosen. Serving no good purpose.

On his release one came to stay with me while on parole. I'll leave the probation saga for another time.

I believe all rehabilitation programmes run inside and outside of prison should be vetted by a panel of former offenders.

Those who know, from their experience, whether the programmes are likely to be supported by high risk offenders.

Whether these have the potential to succeed or not. Why would the prison service continue to support programmes that haven't had the success needed to keep the men from reappearing in court? To be sent back to prison.

Having good support and backing from kaumatua, police, lawyers and community leaders isn't enough.

It's easy to say they applaud the work Billy is doing and support this initiative. He has said the programme will cost about $40,000 that he doesn't have.

At present there is no government funding available to help, but he's going to do it anyway.

He believes there are 10 high risk offenders living locally that are worth the effort.

How about those who have professed support doing more, something really vital to the programme's success.

Get out and about and raise the $40,000 required for the inaugural programme.

Use their influence and don't sit back and take a "wait and see" attitude.

The man needs help, he has already set up a givealittle.co.nz/cause/tikanga-Maori-offender-rehabilitation-program to donate.

The people who think the programme has merit know those in the Maori community earning more than $100,000 annually.

Ask them to donate $1000 each and you'd have the $40,000 raised within a week. Let them be part of the sacrifice sharing.

New Zealand can't be proud of a system that locks people up, both men and women, year after year only to release them and have them back inside prison within two years. This has been going on for decades.

We send MPs and senior public servants off to Scandinavian countries to see why their prisons are being closed because offending and reoffending is disappearing. They come home with some innovative ideas but invariably these go nowhere.

Billy's programme could be a winner.

He knows what can turn a life around. He knows positive connection to one's culture can be life changing.

And most importantly Billy knows BS when he hears it.

From offenders who might think they can hoodwink him and from public servants who long ago lost the will to advocate for change to systems and programmes that offer no sustainable change in behaviour.

The proposed new mega prison isn't the answer to reducing reoffending.

High-risk offenders will still be released one day. If nothing changes they will reoffend.

We just have to pray, and keep our fingers crossed, it will be someone else's family member and not one of our own who will be the next victim.

How sad is that? But it doesn't have to be that way. We should be prepared to look at any solution to stop reoffending.

You can bet future victims would implore us to do just that.