A long-time South Auckland community champion has been recognised for volunteering to help offenders back on their feet.
Teau Aiturau received the Volunteer Appreciation Award from the Department of Corrections last week.
Barbara Jennings the National Advisor Volunteers for the Department of Corrections with Teau Aiturau. Photo/ Supplied.
Aiturau, better known in the community as Mr T, is part of the Time to Thrive Charitable Trust in Mangere which helps offenders to find a job, ride and repair bikes and work their way to getting a driver's licence.
"Most of them have lost their licenses from drink driving," he says. "Because they've got no license to drive we tell them to jump on the bike."
The 39-year-old Cook Islander helped establish Bike Fit Mangere which runs after-school programmes also encouraging kids to ride and repair bikes.
Aiturau says some of the offenders have brought their own kids to the programme.
"They've taken away bikes and they've also brought their kids back and wanna sign their kids up," he says.
The Department of Corrections says voluntary organisations go well above the call of duty to provide for offenders serving time in the community.
Of the 30,000 community-based offenders in the country, 11,000 live between South Auckland and Northland, where 280 volunteers like Aiturau, teach offenders important life skills.
Service manager of Mangere's Community Corrections Centre, Greg Wipani, says Aiturau's efforts are appreciated.
"Mr T takes 20 to 30 odd offenders to do work for him," he says. "It's a really good kaupapa in respects to getting our people in South Auckland fit."