A former Black Power member has said goodbye to his past convictions in order to help those who are still behind bars.
Paora Raharaha, 25, decided that gang life was no longer for him in 2016 while serving time in prison.
“If I was going to be with a gang, I sort of felt that what was going to be the rest of my life – was jail,” Raharaha told RadioLIVE. “And I didn’t want that.”
About two months later, Raharaha completed his three and a half year sentence for assault, burglary and driving in a dangerous manner. He got at job at Z service station in Ngatea, where he’s been working steadily ever since.
While some perceive exiting a gang to be a dangerous affair, Raharaha said he still has “life-long mates” who are still in Black Power.
“For me, I was fortunate enough to just tell them [he was quitting], and that was it,” he said. “Not even a scratch."
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“People think that once you leave the gang, that’s it. You might get a bash or repercussions... I’ve actually seen other people come unscathed. I think that gangs are changing.”
Since spending his sentence in prison, Raharaha has flipped his role by partnering with the Department of Corrections in order to encourage employers and CEOs to hire ex-inmates. He told RadioLIVE that if people with convictions can get jobs, they’re less likely to reoffend and hurt people.
“If we can help them switch and live a straight life, obviously they’re not going to hurt people,” he said.
And for those New Zealanders who may be struggling to get out of the system, Raharaha has a simple message.
“If you’re listening and need some help with something, especially along the crime lines, I’m happy to talk and help where I can.”
Listen to the fulle interview with Paora Raharaha above.
The Long Lunch with Carly Flynn in for Lynda Hallinan, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.