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Given the impact of the spread of Omicron in Aotearoa, the safety measures that Ara Poutama have put in place to protect mauhere (prisoners), prison staff and visitors from the virus has also meant that prisons are not accessible for research purposes for the time being.

Following consultations with core Ara Poutama stakeholders, the University of Waikato, and our funder (Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment), Nga Tūmanakotanga is currently on hiatus until conditions are sufficiently favourable to resume field work. Despite delays, there will be no impact on our overarching research aims and we will continue to support our students during this period.

On behalf of the research team, we thank you for your interest in our work and look forward to reconnecting with you in due course.


The Nga Tūmanakotanga project is a study aimed to decrease physical, sexual, psychological and structural harm and improve safety and wellbeing for those who reside and work in prison settings in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Welcome to our initial release of the Nga Tūmanakotanga – Turning the Tide on Prison Violence project website.

The research aims to address the following questions:

  1. What factors contribute to prison violence? Can we predict these behaviours/events? And if so, what are the applications for resource and cell allocation?
  2. What is the relationship between gang-affiliation and prison violence? What resources do men from these communities possess that can mitigate future violence?
  3. What are the properties of the prison environment itself that influence or inhibit violence? How can ecological models of prison inform improved safety and wellbeing, and even participation in rehabilitation practices?

The RePAIR project began in 2019 and involves an international team of researchers led by Dr Armon Tamatea from the School of Psychology.

The research has two phases:

● Understanding the drivers for violence and aggression in our prisons

● Intervening in violence-prone sites

Understanding the drivers for violence and aggression in our prisons

Drawing on indigenous knowledge, gang culture, and clinical psychology, this phase expands beyond the conventional individual-focused  ‘assessment-intervention-prevention’ approach to research in this field, towards a holistic and ecological way of thinking that recognises individual, organisational, cultural factors, as well as the role of the physical environment itself in the facilitation and prohibition of aggression.

Intervening on violence

The outcomes of the research will inform approaches and technical resources that can be  used by relevant organisations such as the Department of Corrections and Police. Deliverables will include:

  1. a violence prediction tool
  2. workable preventative and intervention approaches based on co-created knowledge with the prison-based gang community, and
  3. environmental approaches to design-out violence and design-in safety in prisons.

These will (1) reduce violence, (2) increase safety, and (3) reduce costs incurred by prisons (and the public) as a consequence of interpersonal aggression.

**Photo credit:NZ Herald/Amos Chapple

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