A collaboration between the Department of Corrections and the Gore and Districts SPCA has resulted in large pounamu pendants being made and sold as a fundraiser for the volunteer organisation.
Shelter manager Cath McDowall said people on Corrections community work sentences made eight pounamu pendants as part of their sentence.
“You can’t keep them, so they decided they would donate them to us which was really cool,” Mrs McDowall said.
“We’ve got a really good relationship with Corrections.”
The SPCA usually had two people on community work sentences at the shelter. They carried out a variety of tasks, such as mowing lawns and tidying edges, she said.
Those serving sentences also learned new skills while working at the SPCA.
The pounamu pendants cost $50 each, and Mrs McDowall said most had been sold.
The money raised would be used for ongoing costs such as vet care and desexing.
Corrections service manager Gore Rachel Henry said work and living skills training provided an opportunity for offenders to attend short, sharp intervention training designed to enhance their life and work skills, while providing options for offenders to move into more intensive interventions to meet identified re-integrative needs in a fun and interactive way.
“This work and living skills initiative provides access to training and learning opportunities for all offenders that will have a meaningful and positive impact on their life and work skills, thus contributing to reducing offending,” Ms Henry said.
Offenders who were motivated to attend training were also more likely to comply with their sentence.
Motivating and assisting offenders to adopt an offence-free lifestyle led to reduced crime in the community and fewer people in prison or on community-based sentences and orders, she said.
The aim of the pounamu carving course was to provide learning opportunities for offenders that would enhance their existing skills and develop new ones, Ms Henry said.
The course also provided cultural relevance for offenders on sentence as well as the chance to learning the skill.
“Offering the experience of walking in the footsteps of our ancestors, learning the geology and formulation of pounamu, art design, traditional stone working, the collection, crafting and different uses by early Maori and cultural connection.”
The course is run in conjunction with Southern REAP and has a maximum of eight offenders on each half-day course, which will be run three times in the coming year.
Tutor Gavin Thomas owns the Murihiku Pounamu business.
The SPCA was chosen because of the service it provides the community, and the donation allowed it to fundraise to support their efforts.