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A place of opportunity

Putaruru charity Transform Aotearoa would not exist if Ian Elliott, the late Trinity Lands chairman, had not connected with local prison officer of 30 years, Lamen Hohaia.

Together, they launched Transform Aotearoa to help Putaruru families affected by imprisonment. The charity helps people who have been in prison, and their families, find purpose and stability as they move forward.

Eight years later, Lamen is still at Transform. He leads the organisation’s men’s programmes and says:

“It's all about helping them problem solve and make better decisions and being community people really. So that's my goal, point them in the right direction.”

Lamen Hohaia,
Head of Men's Programmes”

Lamen Hohaia

Lamen Hohaia

A social service 

Danny Scott is Transform’s social liaison officer, but he first came to the social service as a client.

“My past is drugs, so I ended up becoming a gang member and it led me to prison. The prison sentence was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to get clean.”

Danny Scott,
Social Liaison Officer

Sharing challenges

He is convinced of the value of avoiding idle hands – keeping busy helped him work towards a life beyond drugs, gangs, and prison. He studies towards a social work degree through distance learning and encourages clients to fill their days with work, volunteer roles, study, or fitness. Every weekday morning, he drives around picking up clients for an 8.30am session at a local gym. As they train, the men share their challenges in turning away from crime and support each other to stay focused on the life they want to lead.

“Transform is a place of opportunity,” he says. “Just as drugs can infect a community, well, so can this – in a positive way. The
community is growing the community.”

Danny Scott

A change for good 

Mata King, a father of six, is a member of Danny’s Men’s Life Group. On a bright Tuesday morning, he is lifting weights alongside men he went to school with and has met again in the month since he moved home. The men share a desire for a peaceful, enjoyable life.

“I’ve been inside four times. Not proud of it but it is what it is, after the last time, I wanted to make changes and change my life. I wanted to come back home to Putaruru but I was a bit worried. I didn’t know if I’d have the support to continue my transformation. But I found this…”

Mata King,
Transform Aotearoa member

Keeping busy

He is keeping busy attending the men’s group, doing up a family property, living off the grid, and making new friends. One of his old schoolmates is Patrick Marr, who is lifting dumbbells nearby.  He had a stroke two years ago but has found the gym is great for his recovery.

“Just getting out and talking to people is better than being on the couch all day.”

Patrick Marr,
Transform Aotearoa

Rochelle Ma

Rochelle Ma

Women's support group

Local businesswoman Rochelle Ma is a member of the women’s support group. She and her husband own a painting business. He is doing a Transform Aotearoa night course and, together, they are learning to communicate effectively in their relationship.

“I really appreciate Transform – it’s really changed me as a woman. I know a lot of women out there have self-doubt and don’t have that value and they don’t know how to find that. Transform, this women’s programme,
does help.”

Rochelle Ma,
Transform Aotearoa member

“If we didn’t have the Trinity Lands funding, at the level we have it at the moment, we actually would not be able to operate at all.”

Howard Goold,
Transform Aotearoa