11 months ago

Selwyn Times: January 17, 2017

8 Tuesday

8 Tuesday January 17 2017 Our People SELWYN TIMES Mary Kamo Prison chaplain role rewarded DEDICATED: Mary Kamo received a New Year Honour for services to the welfare of prisoners after being a prison chaplain for 33 years. Mary Kamo spent 33 years working with prisoners to turn their lives around. Bridget Rutherford spoke to her about helping inmates, living at Birdlings Flat, and being proud of her kids You were made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours. How did you feel when you found out? I was astonished; I thought they must have had the wrong person. But when I realised I felt very, very privileged. I found out about two months before the announcement. When you’re told, you have to keep it confidential and that was the hardest part, I couldn’t tell anybody! You received the honour for your work with the inmates at Christchurch Women’s, Paparua Men’s and Rolleston prisons as chaplain. Can you tell me what your work involved? It involved visiting the prison, meeting with inmates, doing sacraments, and Sunday services. Just really trying to assist inmates in getting some sense of their own WHANAU: Mary Kamo loves to spend time with her family. spirituality. A lot of people would say they believed in some sort of faith, but a lot don’t know how to bring it into daily living. More than 50 per cent of women in prison are Maori, and because of my involvement I was able to meet them at that level and also bring in people from their own iwi or kaumatua to come in a meet with them and do their whakapapa with them. I worked in Paparua and Rolleston prisons as well, but my heart was in the women’s prison because what we need to do, I believe, is find alternatives to imprisonment. Now I’m not talking about them not taking responsibility for criminal activity, but I do think there are probably better ways of handling it than breaking up families, children going into care, and then that whole damage being very difficult to repair when the mothers come out of prison. Pillars say that the families do the sentence, and that’s absolutely true. Distributorsdirect will provide families with the current (old) uniform while there is still a demand for it. Distributorsdirect will be at the Lincoln Event Centre Jan 26th and 30th from 11am until 6pm. Parents please contact us with your requirements to help us meet the demand. Email: Phone: 03 338 5742 | Cell: 021 -559-383 Available + CaNtErBUrY mINIstOCK CHamps satUrDaY JaNUarY 21 st 7pm start sOUtH IsLaND mODIFIED CHamps tHE pLaCE tO BE tHIs sUmmEr! DOUBLEDaYs rOaD KaIapOI INFOLINE 03 364 8833 www.wOODFOrDgLEN.CO.Nz Affordable Quality. Design and Build Visit our Showhome in Levi Park, 3 Genoa Avenue, Rolleston Showhome: Open Thursday – Sunday 12.00pm – 4.00pm website: Phone Perry on 021 354 289 or Ben on 027 245 0994

SELWYN TIMES Tuesday January 17 2017 9 with New Year Honour How did you come into the role? I had been very involved in the community in the Christian family movement. Then I moved onto working as a volunteer for Whakatata House, I was volunteering there for some years. Then I got involved in starting up the restorative justice outreach in Christchurch. I was asked if I would take on the role as prison chaplain and with a little bit of trepidation agreed to do that and it went from there. It was while I was a prison chaplain that I got involved with Pillars, a charity for children of prisoners, because my husband, Ray, and I were nominated to be the kaumatua for Pillars. Did you ever expect to be doing it for 33 years? No, I didn’t. I had a few times thought I would retire but I had a project I really wanted to get established and that was for Tukutuku panels to be put up in the prison chapel, specifically the ones that are called the stairway to heaven. It seemed to me the chapel was very mono-cultural and I thought it should reflect something of the lives of the women who worshipped in there as well. I used to say to the prison – because there was often difficulty with finance – if you want to get rid of me, get the panels done, I’ll leave then (laughs). The day the panels went up, that’s the day I retired. I have to give credit to Father Jim Consedine. He invited me to consider chaplaincy, he is the one who supported prison chaplaincy in Christchurch, and he was prison chaplain himself for many years. Do you miss it? I do miss it, I miss the women. I am a kaiwhakamana, who are mainly Maori elders, and the Government set up a scheme for elders to be able to visit any prison in the country and support their people. That system means these elders are available on request or available to visit the prison, and meet with people, so I will go back as kaiwhakamana. SIBLINGS: Both Miriama and Ward Kamo work in television. Is there anything that has really stuck with you during your work? The care that was extended to me. That’s what I found in the prison, the majority of the women would care for each other, then staff do the same. There were times where I asked myself who was ministering who. It matured me, expanded my thinking and expanded my heart. And you live near Little River don’t you? I live in Birdlings Flat, we recycled a house off the red zone from Burwood and set it up on a property my husband had inherited. We lived at Birdlings Flat before our first child was born, and when we realised schools and doctors weren’t that close, we bought in Brighton. We lived there right up until the earthquake meant we had to move back to Birdlings. I love it here. And one of your daughters, Miriama Kamo, is quite a familiar face for many Kiwis. She is, we’ve got used to it. She is very good at what she does, what you see on screen is Miriama as she is. That is the person that she is and that’s what we’re proud of. Did you ever think when she was young that she would be fronting shows such as Sunday and Kiwi Living? No (laughs). Miriama’s shy. Most people won’t believe that. She was so shy that she wouldn’t talk and she would hide behind my skirt if anyone said hello to her. What do your other children do? We’ve got five – the oldest, our son Ward, is on Native Affairs. Our eldest daughter Michaela works in Tauranga for the Bay of Plenty Health Board, then Amos, works for the New Zealand Transport Agency. Then our youngest, Sian, works for an insurance company in Auckland. We have lots of grandchildren – 13. Where did you grow up? I was born in Dunedin of which I’m very proud. If my husband is watching Canterbury play Otago he has to watch it with my blue and gold scarf hanging across the television. So what brought you up to Christchurch? That was my big OE! A girlfriend and I were going to go overseas, but we hadn’t seen much of New Zealand so we started off in Queenstown. Then my mother said we want you in Christchurch (because they had moved there) for your 21st. So the very next day after my 21st we went to a nightclub/coffee bar. And here was this musician who owned it and that was the end of it. A friend invited us to meet him there on a Friday night, so that’s when I really met Ray. I’m still threatening to go overseas! Zirka Circus is Proud to Present it’s 4th Tour All International Artists, Death-Defying Acrobatics, Amazing Illusions All NEW Acts Animal FREE! Great Family Fun! BOOK NOW! PHONE 0800 2 ZIRKA (0800 294 752) EMAIL a small booking fee applies Ticket Prices Adult Child (Aged 2-14) Student & Beneficiary Family Pass (2A + 2C or 1A +3C) VIP $40 $29 $38 N/A RINGSIDE $35 $25 $33 N/A ELEVATED $30 $20 $28 $89 wed 18 JAN 7pm Rolleston Reserve, Rolleston Check out our website for full schedule details! THU 19 JAN 2pm & 7pm fRi 20 JAN 2pm & 7pm sAT 21 JAN 2pm & 7pm sUN 22 JAN 1pm & 4.30pm