Well done Ben

A nice story from the NZ Herald:

Ben Purua will stand on the stage at the Ahuwhenua Trophy Dairy Competition Awards Dinner as one of three finalists in the Young Māori Farmer Award. Ten years ago, as a teenager, he was convicted of manslaughter.

Ben was sentenced to five-and-a-half years, and served four years at Waikeria Prison. …

He said he grew up in Pukekohe without a father and in an environment of violence, drugs, alcohol and gangs.

As a kid he wanted to be a gangster just like his uncles, and took up drinking, drug-taking and crime to pave the way.

He said before he was a teenager he was in trouble and eventually he served time in juvenile prisons.

Before he was legally an adult he was charged with the murder of an elderly man in Hamilton.

The charges were downgraded to manslaughter and Ben pleaded guilty.

He felt that his life was over, he couldn’t read or write and he thought his gang life was all he had to look forward to.

But inside Waikeria he undertook the farm training programme, and with help with his learning problems he found something he enjoyed and was good at.

And now:

Luckily, he got a break when he was employed in a farming job.

He admits it was a big step for someone to take. Mostly he never got to the interview stage once he disclosed he had a criminal record.

Nikki explained: “Every prospective employer would have Googled his name and up came the case.”

But having been given a chance, Ben said he was driven to make it work.

Ben left the gang life – it was a big step, it was his whole life growing up – he got clean and applied himself to his new goals, and his life started to turn around.

He has completed the husbandry and feeding course Level 3 through Primary ITO and is currently part way through the Level 4 course. …

Now aged 26, Ben is the 2IC for a contract milker at Trinity Lands farm, a 307ha (287 effective) property near Tokoroa which runs 1000 cows.

Nice to see a story where rehabilitation has worked. Well done Ben.

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