Keeping the faith in Godzone

Ms Marilyn  Chetty1
1University Of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

The early dominance and later reconstitution of civil society engagement in the New Zealand corrections sector are reminiscent of the ebbs and flow in civic society noted in other jurisdictions. Faith communities have a long history of engaging in not just prison ministry but also innovative rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, both together with and on behalf of the state. Faith-based initiatives, in particular, have co-existed alongside the secular in the penal sector but their development and progression present an intriguing case study on the changing visibility and influence of religion and spirituality in the penal system of an increasingly secular country. The history of faith-based initiatives is a chronicle of the rise, fall and evolution of faith-based organisations in the penal sector whose relationship with the state includes periods of cooperation, co-option, conflict and comeback. This paper draws on oral history interviews with key knowledgeables to examine the unique historical, economic, social, political and other developments in New Zealand that have influenced or impacted the role of faith-based voluntary sector organisations in the penal sector.


Marilyn Chetty is a doctoral candidate in the School of School Sciences at the University of Auckland. She completed an MA in Criminology in 2013. Her research and teaching interests centre around prisons and penal policy, probation, desistance and criminological theory. Her doctoral research is centred on civil society and civic participation in the New Zealand penal sector, with a focus on the role and impact of faith-based initiatives on reintegration and recidivism.



The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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