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Prisoner's rights

Starting your sentence

Te Tirohanga Units

What are Te Tirohanga Units?

Te Tirohanga Units attempt to place Māori cultural principles and practices within the prison system by establishing separate units that focus on Māori culture including te reo lessons, whānau and iwi relationships, and involvement within the unit from kaumatua. Prisoners will participate in activities like kapa haka, use of taiaha, and traditional carving (whakairo).

Average stay in a unit is 8-12 months, with a minimum of 6 months and maximum of 2 years.

How do I get into a Te Tirohanga Unit?

Te Tirohanga Units are currently only at the following men’s prisons:

  • Tongariro Prison; Te Hikoinga (segregated)
  • Hawkes Bay Regional Prison; Te Whare Tirohanga Māori
  • Whanganui Prison; Whare Whanui
  • Rimutaka Prison; Te Whare Whakaahuru

You need to make an application to be moved to Te Tirohanga Unit. You need to be considered low-risk or be an “intervention” category prisoner (meaning you are motivated to participate in rehabilitation). You also need to have a positive drug test and not have psychiatric, intellectual, or physical disabilities that would make it too difficult for you to participate in the unit.

Priority is given to Māori or people who have Māori children. Non-Māori are also eligible if they show motivation to engage in the programme.

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Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Also available as a book

Lag Law: Prisoner's Rights

Lag Law answers heaps of common questions you might have if you’re going to prison, you’re in prison, or you’re getting out of prison. It talks about your rights in prison, and sets out the laws and rules that affect you when you’re put in prison . 1 free copy for people in prison and the whānau of someone in prison. If that’s you, email laglaw@wclc.org.nz for your free copy

Buy Lag Law: Prisoner's Rights

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