Former hard-nosed criminal Billy Macfarlane's new course that aims to turn the lives of Rotorua baddies around has eight men ready to make a change.

The course, Pūwhakamua, officially launches tomorrow at Apūmoana Marae.

It is designed to be an intense six-month programme that will wrap Māori protocol around men who have led a life of crime in the hope they will turn their lives around.

The course will be followed up with a further six months of checks to ensure the participants are staying crime-free.


Macfarlane is using his own personal experiences to run the course, which he is doing off his own bat without official government funding or support.

However, his course has been given support and guidance from police, parts of the judiciary, kaumatua, local lawyers and community leaders.

All participants will spend at least 440 hours immersed in cultural practices, including 100 hours in tikanga wānanga, 100 hours in te reo classes, 100 hours engaged in some form of community service, 60 hours learning formal Māori speaking and 80 hours engaged in group fitness.

Macfarlane is self-funding the course and has received some community money, but not enough to reach the estimated $42,000 to run the course. A Givealittle page has so far raised $320.

To help raise money, Macfarlane is holding a public talk on Saturday night, following the course's launch, where he will tell his story.

"This will be a story of a young man who grew up in Owhata and was imprisoned at a very young age. A story of drugs, violence, prison riots, escapes and high-speed police chases.

20 Apr, 2018 4:04am
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"A story of a man from Rotorua who has lived most of his life in the underworld but eventually found solace and guidance inside his culture. The story is raw, informative, exciting and unusual."

The talk is at 6pm at Apumoana Marae. Tickets are $20 each and are for those aged 15 and over. All proceeds will go to Pūwhakamua.