Tickets are still available for a powerful event on Saturday that will give an insight into life on the wrong side of the law.

The event is a fundraiser for Puwhakamua, which is a tikanga-based course that focuses on turning the lives around of Rotorua men who want to lead a better life.

Saturday's event, being held at Apumoana Marae on Tarawera Rd, will hear from three men on the course who are about to graduate who have spent this year learning te reo (language) and tikanga (customs) Māori as they turn their backs on crime.

The guest speaker for the event is former Black Power leader Brownie Mane, who served 19 years in prison.

Brownie Mane. Photo / File
Brownie Mane. Photo / File

Mane - who has led a crime-free life trying to help people change their ways since his release in 2015 - is expected to deliver a powerful speech that could help families, or the men themselves, in Rotorua going through problems with their young men.

Billy Macfarlane, who runs the course, said the event will be the first time the three men on the course have told their stories publicly.

He said they were ready to share their experiences and how the course has helped them change.

All those attending the event will be welcomed onto the marae by the students of Puwhakamua.

"The men are doing everything for the welcome and they've never been involved in culture before."

He said those men alone had amazing stories to tell, including one who was homeless in Australia this time last year.

He said Mane's speech was worth attending and he really wanted locals to take the opportunity to hear what he had to say.

There was an age restriction of 15 and tickets cost $25 but Macfarlane said he didn't want anyone to miss out, so encouraged all those interested to get in touch with him to make arrangements.


The course is privately run by Macfarlane, a reformed criminal of several years who turned to his Māori roots to make changes and is now a te reo and tikanga Māori tutor.

Puwhakamua has the backing of district court judges, police and respected kaumātua.

Macfarlane has been given funding from local charities, which he said he was grateful for, but he needed to fundraise more for the new intake, coming on board just before Christmas.

"This is a fundraising exercise, not a money-making exercise."

Tickets are by arrangement and are limited. There will be no door sales. Contact Macfarlane on (021) 234 0027 or email

The details
What: Puwhakamua fundraising event
When: Saturday December 8, 2pm-7pm
Where: Apumoana Marae
Howmuch: $25