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Aug 16, 2017

Local Focus: Inmates and schoolboys are 'Bruthas'

St John Students and Hawkey's Bay regional Prison inmates have joined to create sustainable chopping boards that represent a waka.


"I wanted to bring our school values in, and I wanted it to be original."

This was St John's College student Jake Dunn's vision for their entry in the Lions Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme.

And original it is.

It is the first time the Hastings catholic secondary school has entered, and their business model incorporates youth inmates from Hawke's Bay Regional Prison.

Principal Adviser of Rehabilitation and Learning, Tony Denton, says it's a unique opportunity. "They would not normally have had this opportunity until this school came knocking on our door... so we certainly welcomed it for our boys to take part in it."

The inmates in question are 16 to 19-year-olds who are serving either 6-12 month, or life sentences.

It was when Jake was researching for an internal assessment that he had the brainwave.

"I came across some appalling statistics that 80 per cent of young offenders reoffend. So I thought what better way to enter into the enterprise project than to have a product which lowers that statistic and brings the values from our school into it."

The Young Enterprise Scheme requires students to form real businesses and sell real products and services to the market.

The College's entry is 'Just Boards' - wooden platters produced under the name Bruthas Ltd.

For the last six months the students have been regularly visiting their business partners behind bars - an experience in itself.

"It's something I've never felt before," Jake says. "After the powhiri, it lifted all tensions and worries and it felt like we were just best friends talking to each other and the business venture.

Together they created recycled rimu platters which interlock to symbolise a waka - underpinning Māori culture.

They're packaged in recycled coffee sacks.


Watch the video here