Home' Greymouth Star : February 13th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, February 13, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1542 - England’s Queen Catherine Howard
is executed for treason on the orders of her
husband Henry VIII.
1633 - Italian astronomer Galileo arrives
in Rome and is detained by Roman Catholic
1945 - Allied forces capture Budapest,
Hungary, in World War Two; US warplanes
firebomb Dresden, Germany, killing more than
1975 - Turkish Cypriots proclaim
separate administration in Turkish-
occupied northern part of Cyprus.
1978 - A bomb explodes outside
Sydney’s Hilton Hotel, venue of
the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Regional Meeting. Two
garbage collectors are killed and a
policeman fatally injured.
1989 - Soviet Red Army leaves Afghan
capital of Kabul.
1990 - Nelson Mandela receives a hero’s
welcome when he returns to the black
township of Soweto after his release from
1992 - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat claims
tape in which he purportedly made slanderous
comments of Jews was doctored.
1996 - Israeli troops seal off the West Bank
and Gaza to prevent terrorist attacks.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
T R Malthus, English economist (1766-
1834); Kim Novak, US actress (1933-);
George Segal, US actor (1934-); Oliver Reed,
British actor (1938-1999); Andrew Peacock,
Australian politician (1939-); Carol
Linley, US actress (1942-); Peter
Tork, US musician-The Monkees
(1942-); Stockard Channing, US
actress (1944-); Jerry Springer,
US talkshow host (1944-); Peter
Gabriel, British singer (1950-); Matt
Salinger, US actor (1960-); Robbie
Williams, British singer (1974-); Mena Suvari,
US actress (1979-).
“An explanation of cause is not a justification
by reason. ” — C S Lewis, English author
“Do not be afraid I am with you.”
— (Isaiah 4:35).
uFood for thought
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he little boy squeals with
laughter as his mother
throws him up in the air,
catching him and pulling
him into a cuddle before
she tosses him skyward
As the pair play in their yard under
the heat of the summer sun, something
catches the little boy ’s eye and his face
He has spotted his best mate and her
mum wandering over from next door.
Both mothers lift their toddlers from
their hip to the ground and watch them
run to each other excitedly.
Almost colliding as they fumble into
a high five, a gesture they have recently
perfected and repeat over and over, the
youngsters giggle and gabble at each other
as their mothers chat away behind them.
It is a scene from a typical New Zealand
yard — toys scattered on the dry grass
that crunches under the children’s feet
and is well overdue for a cut, yellow oxalis
blowing around in the breeze and the
sound of unhindered fun.
But these children are living a life that
is far from typical. They are the children
of inmates doing time at Auckland
Region Women’s Corrections Facility —
criminals raising their babies behind bars.
More than 100 babies have been born
to women in prison in the past six years,
including 15 new arrivals in 2016 and
one born in the past couple of weeks to
an Auckland inmate.
The Weekend Herald was invited to
meet some of the women who have given
birth during their sentences, and see
how they are raising their babies in the
ARWCF Mothers and Babies units.
For privacy, legal and safety reasons
these women and their babies can not be
Their names have been changed to
protect them, and the victims of their
Jessie was four months pregnant with
her first child when she was sent to
prison and she had no idea how she was
going to cope or what she was going to
go with a baby behind bars.
“It was a pretty anxious time, there was
a lot of pressure,” she says.
“My pregnancy was all right, and then
I had Charlie and I knew that I wasn’t
going to keep him here ... I just wanted
to carry on with my sentence and let him
be out in a safe environment.”
But her plans were unravelled a few
months later and Jessie had to make a big
Though her family were supportive and
willing to raise him until her release,
Child Youth and Family could not
approve them as caregivers.
“I decided to bring him in here and take
care of him full-time myself. I didn’t want
him to be living with strangers.
“He was four months old when I
brought him in here and it was actually
a relief ... I could finally wake up with
him,” she says, a loving smile stretching
across her face.
Jessie is one of six mums living with
their children, aged between one month
and 17 months, in the ARWCF units at
There are similar units at Arohata
Prison in Wellington and Christchurch
Women’s Prison — all built and run with
the aim of helping the mother to develop
and maintain a functional relationship
with her child, and reducing the
likelihood of the mother re-offending.
The unit at ARWCF is made up of
two houses — each with three bedrooms
and a communal bathroom, kitchen and
lounge — in a sunny corner of the prison
grounds behind a black perimeter fence.
The houses are light and bright, with
big comfy couches, colourful artwork on
the walls and everything the women need
to care for their babies.
It is not a given that a pregnant inmate
will get a room in the unit when she gives
birth. Any woman who wants a place —
including newly sentenced inmates with
young babies born on the outside — has
to meet strict eligibility criteria.
To be eligible, an inmate must be
pregnant or have a child under two; be
the child’s primary caregiver before she
was jailed or the most likely primary
caregiver after release and have no
convictions for violent or sexual offending
The inmate must also agree to
undertake mental health and substance
abuse screening, and sign a parenting
agreement which effectively says they will
undertake the full-time care of their child
including providing their food, clothing,
nappies and anything else they need.
The mothers are responsible for all
cooking, cleaning and laundry in the unit,
which means they have to budget, shop
and organise everything they and their
It may sound like an easy ride for a
prisoner, but, like motherhood on the
outside, it is a full-time job.
Rebecca’s daughter Molly was born
while she was on remand and awaiting
sentencing for serious offending.
Like most Auckland inmates, she
gave birth at Middlemore Hospital, her
mother by her side and two guards right
outside the delivery suite door.
Rebecca had applied to go into the unit
after Molly was born, but was declined
for safety reasons — that is, Corrections
had concerns that the mother and baby
may be in danger in the unit.
Because she was yet to be sentenced, the
High Court was able to grant her bail on
humanitarian grounds, and she signed
the forms releasing her to live with her
mother the same day Molly was born.
That bail continued for three months
after sentencing — where she was given
a term in prison — while Corrections
considered her second application.
“ When I got word that I had been
accepted, I got in the car with my
daughter and drove to the prison and
handed myself in,” she says.
“From the moment I knew I was
coming in here I was trying to bring her
with me. I just didn’t want to be separated
from her at all, I have heard of cases
in here of mothers who have had that
happen and the psychological damage it
does to people, not being able to see your
child, not being able to breastfeed — it’s
“It was really hard bringing Molly into
prison, but once you settle in you realise
how very lucky you are. She has given
me focus, just to know that she is in the
safest place she can possibly be is good.”
Molly is now 16 months old and
thriving. She is a happy, alert little girl
with bright eyes and though she is shy at
first with new people, once she warms up
she is animated and a real little character.
During the inter view she sits on her
mother’s knee eating a freshly baked
chocolate chip cookie — which Rebecca
proudly hands around the room — and
watches everything that is going on
around her intently.
A normal day, one without a stranger
inter viewing her mother and cameras
set up in her lounge, starts with Molly
getting up and having breakfast with the
other kids who live in her house — a girl
and a boy, both babies.
“After breakfast we clean the house,
clean our rooms and then I go to work in
the garden,” Rebecca says.
“I exercise regularly with a couple of
other prisoners, we get on the bikes in the
exercise rooms. We go for walks, we go to
“ You’re just doing the things with your
baby that you do at home, to a point. And
it definitely makes your sentence easier to
handle. You get to focus on your baby and
that ’s all it’s about, your baby. You just get
on with that.”
The women in the unit must pay for
everything they need for their babies out
of their own pockets — they can access
some benefits to help provide, and their
families usually assist financially.
Toys, clothes and blankets are often
donated by charities or left behind by
mums when they are released.
And the inmates have a garden where
they grow their own veges, so feeding the
youngsters is a bit easier on their bank
As well as her regular chores and
childcare, Rebecca has also worked hard
on her studies since she was locked up,
completing her NCEA and an Open
She is now embarking on a diploma
in relationships, communication and
psychology in her spare time. Not that
there is much of that when you are a solo
mum with an active toddler.
What helps though is that Molly
spends a lot of time with Charlie, who is
only a few weeks older than her, and the
closest she has to a sibling.
It is clear to see when they get together
that they adore each other — high fives
are constant, kisses are blown and they
take turns following each other around
the communal garden and play area.
“O ur days are pretty busy actually,”
Jessie says, laughing.
“ We’re always on the go, I let Charlie
have heaps of playtime, and we read —
he’s got a pretty good routine and he
loves to hang out with the other babies,
he mixes really well with everyone up
The mums in the unit have forged
close relationships and lean on each
other for support, guidance and help —
they often watch each other’s children
to allow attendance at prison courses
and programmes, which is a big part of
rehabilitation and reintegration.
“ We talk about everything — food,
sleep routines, stage-by-stage with my
son,” Jessie says.
“Before I came into jail I didn’t have any
parenting skills ... I think I have learned
a lot being in this unit. I have changed
every aspect of my life, I’ve become wiser
and I make better choices.
“My family reckon I’ve changed heaps,”
she says, proudly.
The woman in charge of the Mothers
and Babies unit at ARWCF (and the
feeding and bonding room where inmates
who cannot have their kids inside full-
time can spend a few hours of quality
time) is Daisy-Fau Tanuvasa.
She is short in stature but big in
personality, warmth and heart — not
quite what you would expect from prison
officer, but exactly what is needed for the
She works closely with the mums and
babies, which is evident from how relaxed
they are in her presence, how quickly the
toddlers reach for her and smile when
she enters the room, and how at ease the
infants are in her arms.
“ You have to remember, the babies are
not prisoners, they are not inmates, their
mothers are,” she said.
“ We make sure we’ve got the right
people in here — it’s about safety for the
mothers as well as the babies.”
To all intents and purposes the women
in the unit are normal mums. They tend
to their babies 24/7, they choose what
they eat, source and prepare it, they set
the routines, they are 100% responsible.
According to Corrections National
Commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot, there
is plenty of solid research showing that
children of prisoners are more likely than
others to end up in prison themselves.
Positive contact between a parent in
prison and her child improves outcomes
and reduces anxiety.
“Every child deser ves a good start in
life. They deser ve a stable, supportive
environment with a mother who is
committed to what is best for that child,”
Lightfoot said last month.
“Mothers in these units are able to
minimise the impact on their children,
build on their parenting skills, take part
in parenting programmes.
“The units provide a structured and
supportive environment for mothers
to re-focus their priorities, ultimately
reducing the risk of them reoffending.”
That supportive environment is set up to
allow the women to parent as they would
on the outside. Everything involving their
child is their decision.
They can apply to take their children on
outings — Tanuvasa says Butterfly Creek
and supermarket shopping are popular
requests, giving the kids an opportunity
to see the real world and engage in simple
everyday things like petting an animal,
seeing new food and people for the first
time or travelling in a car — but approval
is not guaranteed.
“It ’s all about providing normality
for the children as often as possible,”
“But it’s a privilege, not a right.”
In the next few months both Charlie
and Molly will turn two, reaching the age
limit for children in prisons.
Though Jessie will be released a month
before Charlie’s birthday and will not be
separated from her boy, Rebecca is facing
a much bleaker outcome.
She becomes eligible for parole
shortly before Molly hits two, but is not
confident she will be granted an early
release. She has studied and worked hard
during her time in prison, but she is yet
to complete some of the courses that
inmates need to do before the board,
generally, will consider releasing them.
It is a terrifying thought to have to
hand her baby girl over to someone else
— particularly because Rebecca is the
only person Molly really knows.
Rebecca’s parents are supportive but live
half a day ’s drive from Auckland and can
not make the trip regularly.
“Mum has taken her out (of prison)
twice and she said it was complete
torture. Molly doesn’t really know anyone
“She spent the whole two hours she
was with my mum crying her head off —
she’s never been without me and I don’t
know how she will go if I don’t get parole
and she has to go. That ’s my biggest fear.
“The outside world is totally new for her
and it’s a scary thought.”
Rebecca also fears that being raised in
prison will have a negative long-term
impact on Molly.
“Children can get quite
institutionalised, especially if they don’t
have someone who can take them out
from behind the walls. “ They get so used
to it in here,” she says, looking at her
baby girl and gently stroking her hair.
“I definitely worry ... all the time.”
— New Zealand Herald
Infants behind prison walls
Africa needs to reform its systems
for buying and selling land and invest
aggressively in urban infrastructure to
create jobs, end poverty and reduce cities’
high living costs, the World Bank said
Africa’s urban population will double
over the next 25 years, reaching 1 billion
people by 2040, it said.
But complicated procedures for land
transactions, a lack of urban planning
and under-investment in infrastructure
connecting homes, jobs and shops are
hampering development, the bank said.
“How can we best prepare for the
unprecedented wave of people moving
to towns and cities to pursue their hopes
and dreams?” asked the World Bank’s vice
president for Africa, Makhtar Diop via
“African cities, in order to be drivers
for economic growth, in order to be
the platforms for poverty elimination,
they really need to be connected and
open to the world.” The bank called
on governments to make transport
connections in rapidly growing cities
a priority saying the lack of a reliable
network of buses and trains had a
negative impact on the economy.
In the Kenyan capital Nairobi, seven
out of 10 people either spend an hour
walking to work or on a mini bus, which
means they can only reach about 20% of
the city’s potential jobs, the bank said in
“Nairobi — a metropolis of three
million people — in reality functions as
a set of villages with very local markets
because people can not move efficiently
across the city,” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez,
the bank’s director for Social, Urban,
Rural, Resilience Global Practice.
African cities are almost 30% more
expensive than other countries at similar
income levels, the bank said.
Housing is 55% more costly and food
prices are 35% higher than in other low
and middle income countries.
This creates a vicious cycle, driving
up wages, reducing business profits and
“It’s by reducing the cost of living in
African cities that we will be able to
create the type of jobs that are needed for
Africans to escape poverty,” said Diop.
Land prices in some African cities are
as high as in the United States because
there is a shortage of land that can be
easily and safely traded, the report said.
“There is enough physical land; there
is not enough tradable land with clear
property rights,” said Ijjasz-Vasquez.
“Therefore the prices have gone
absolutely crazy.” Corruption and
inefficiency are major problems in many
African land ministries. Investors risk
being given fake title
deeds, or finding their
plot has multiple
titles, experts say, with
swathes of land being
because they have not
Urban plans, that
lay out zones for
houses, streets and
public spaces, must
be respected, Ijjasz-
“The efficiency of
was due to a very
simple urban plan, on
one sheet of paper,
that was agreed
and enforced by
everybody,” he said.
“They were able
to grow a city in
an organised way
that allowed it to
be efficient for the
next two centuries.”
Money also needs to
be poured into decent
housing, with up to
two-thirds of residents
in cities like Lagos living in slums where
more than three people share a room, the
Ijjasz-Vasquez praised Senegal for
introducing a law enabling people with
temporary occupancy permits in urban
areas to convert them into permanent
title deeds at no cost.
“They can start investing in housing
because their properties are more secure,”
he said. — Thomson Reuters
Land rights key to fixing Africa’s crowded, costly cities
People and vehicles are seen on a road under construction in Nairobi, Kenya.
postmaster Mr M R
Terry considers it is
likely some subscribers
may want to have their phones disconnected
following the new Post Office charges
announced late last week. The new scale of
charges, estimated to boost Post Office revenue
by £7.5 million a year, would be felt by all
subscribers for the first few months, but then it
would be accepted by them and provision would
be made for the extra payments, he said.
Phone rentals will increase to £1 10s each two
months and installation costs will rise from £5
Potatoes at Maori Creek are almost worth
their weight in gold. Owners of a holiday
cabin there, last year decided to provide for this
year with a crop of potatoes. The crop was a
reasonable one and dug on Saturday.
“I wonder if we have been growing these
spuds in gold,” pondered one of the owners Mr
S Saunders. Only way to test the theory was to
wash the dirt, so as the potatoes were dug the
dirt was washed.
On Saturday night the syndicate members
were able to display the fruits of their garden —
not big potatoes but a small vial of liquid with
the tell-tale specks of gold lying on the bottom.
What is claimed as a West Coast, New
Zealand and world record for three hours’
continuous darts play was set at Greymouth on
Saturday by an eight-man team. All members of
the D uke of Edinburgh Club, they compiled a
score of 62,637.
The record-setting team comprised Gerry
Craze, Don Johnstone, Mike Neate, Har vey
Fitton, Gerald Glen, Ian Peters, Barry
Langridge and Frank Neate.
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