Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou is a charity that exists to support the tamariki and whānau of people in prison to create positive futures for themselves.
Our main objective is to build a community where every child who has a parent or caregiver in prison or serving a community sentence, has access to support and appropriate services; to create a positive future for themselves.
Pillars mahi consists of programmes which range across wrap-around social work services for whānau and mentoring for children.
We work in prisons and the community and have a team of well trained, experienced staff in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), Ōtautahi (Christchurch) as well as services in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) and Waihōpai (Invercargill).
Children of people in prison carry an invisible sentence, one of stigma and shame that goes unnoticed in our current justice system.
Children of people in prison are often socially and economically isolated and with no support are 9.5x more likely to go to prison themselves.
Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou goal is to help stop intergenerational offending, so children of people in prison do not become the next generation incarcerated.
Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou is one of a few organisations that support the invisible victims of crime; children and families of people serving a sentence.
As a charity, we provide free, confidential, and non-judgemental support for families and children who have whānau serving a sentence.
Of Pillars children struggle emotionally (e.g. depression, anxiety, aggression, defiance, withdrawl)
Of Pillars children are struggling at school
Of Pillars whānau have experienced family violence or sexual violence
Of Pillars whānau believe the mental health of their whānau in prison impacts their children’s wellbeing
Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou was founded by Verna McFelin in 1988 after her husband went to prison. She was left with 4 children and no support. First Pillars was a support group for other mothers with partners in prison, today it is a national charity upholding the rights of children of people in prison.
Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou was instrumental in creating the Children’s Bill of Rights for children who have a parent in prison. Pillars continues to strongly advocate for the rights of families impacted by a family members sentence with Ara Poutama (The Department of Corrections).
We have a team of specialist staff delivering wrap-around support, social work services to families in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Ōtautahi (Christchurch). We also work in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) and Waihōpai (Invercargill). We have two pathway centres based in Christchurch Men’s Prison and Invercargill Prison.
There is also a team of incredible volunteers, who give up their weekends and spare time to mentor hundreds of children who are facing some of the most challenging and difficult times in their lives.
Whānaungatanga (Relationships, Kinship and Connection)
Tiriti o Waitangi is the framework for partnerships between tangata whenua and tangata tiriti. We respect Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its principles within our work.
We uphold high professional standards. We demonstrate honesty, decency and trustworthiness.
We value effective leadership at all levels of our organisation: tamariki, whānau, Māori, partners and stakeholders. We act with integrity, accept accountability, insist on excellence and support innovation.
We embrace the process of reciprocal learning. We learn from our families and our families learn from us. We produce new knowledge and deepen our understanding through research and experience.
Aroha, Tautoko (Love and Support)
Our every action comes from a place of love, compassion, support, inclusiveness and empathy.
Tika (Fair and Just)
We treat our families and whānau, our partners and stakeholders with equal value. We respect their beliefs and practices. We uphold the Children of Prisoners’ Bill of Rights.
We respect the unique values, beliefs, and customs of indigenous peoples from lands across Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa.
The Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou Board brings together a wide range of skills, experience and knowledge which are important for the organisation.
They provide governance and strategic guidance to the General Manager and Executive Management Team.
Susan has worked in the IT business for many years in various international marketing, consultancy and pre-sales roles, but has recently been using her skills in the arts and heritage sector as fundraising manager for The Arts Centre of Christchurch. She is a computer science graduate and holds an MBA , is a Member of the Institute of Directors, and is a qualified CFRE.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, Engari taku toa he toa takitini My strength is not my own. My strength is my family, tribe, tūpuna, and my people. Also, the strength of representing the values of Ka Pou Whakahou. Mahia te mahi hei painga mo te iwi enclosing. Always doing my best to benefit the Kaupapa. Pai marire.
Graduating from the University of Canterbury with a Major in Accounting and Taxation, Amelia has worked as an External Auditor for 4 years. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has a wide range of experience working with various companies and organisations operating in different industries, both in the For-Profit sector and the Not-For Profit sector. Amelia is currently working as a Consultant with a key focus on Internal Audit.
Helen Te Hira
Helen is a local government leader who currently leads the Auckland Council Family Group response for Māori economic development, arts and culture. She has worked for over 15 years with organisations to build capability and application of Te Tiriti informed decision making. Her tribal and Iwi affiliations are to the Northern Iwi and Ngāti Whātua ki kaipara and Ngāpuhi-nui tonu.
Nova has worked in the government sector for over twenty years, in the child protection and youth justice space. She spent several years working for Ara Poutama and is Chief Monitor at the Independent Children’s Monitor.
Danté was a mentor with Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou for five years. He has been involved with many other not-for-profit organisations. He is heavily involved in the Canterbury Pacific community having co-founded the Pacific Peoples Trust, and a Pacific business group, the Pacific Business Collective, and starting his own social enterprise arm, Moana Home Ownership.
Nick has an extensive business background and is a member of the senior leadership group at Jade Software Corporation in Christchurch. Nick has mentored and coached several individuals and organisations, including The Clown Doctors Charitable Trust, which works to bring joy to children and senior citizens in times of need. Nick has been a Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou mentor since early 2020.
Sandra has worked in leadership positions in education for 35 years. She was principal of Mt Cook school in Wellington for 15 years. This was followed by being interim General Manager for ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum (an NGO that works with/for Kiwis from a Refugee Background in the areas of Advocacy, Research and Community Development.)
Kristen has worked in the sustainability and community development space for over 16 years in NZ and the UK. She holds a Bachelor of Social Science (hons) and a Master of Environmental Planning. A key strength is her ability to translate strategy into action. She excels in the delivery of projects and programmes that achieve tangible positive outcomes for people and the environment. As a Mum of two, Kristen is passionate about the wellbeing of children in Aotearoa New Zealand.