The Kea Project is a prototype of a multi-touchpoint strategy which serves the needs of 23,000 ‘invisible children’ across New Zealand who are impacted by separation from a parent who is incarcerated. Without the right support, invisible children are significantly more likely than other Kiwi kids to end up in the justice system. Hence, The Kea Project is designed to deliver a collaborative support system between government and community.
The Māori principles of kaitiakitanga (guardianship), manaakitanga (hospitality and care), and tāwharau (protection) are prevalent throughout the project. Elements of empowerment are embodied in the character of Kaitiaki (guardian) Kea, who becomes a friend and mascot for our invisible child. Kaitiaki Kea initiates a cyclical snowball effect of empowerment flowing from character to child, child to parents, extended family and communities, thus encouraging holistic healing and rehabilitation through collective support systems.
The Kea Project presents its interventions in three phases. The first toolkit is introduced in the child’s home environment after a parent has been arrested. This initial pack offers a base layer of support for our invisible child, reassuring them and acknowledging the emotions they are feeling. A second toolkit provided after a secured prison visit aims to change the invisible child’s perception of prisons: from a cold and scary environment to one that resonates with seeing their parent again. Graphics of Kaitiaki Kea and a familiar narrative leads the child through. The third phase focuses on spatial changes in prison environments, physically giving visibility and a welcoming feeling to the child. The Kea Project seeks to rehumanise New Zealand’s justice system by providing invisible children with a sense dignity and trust.
School of Design, College of Creative Arts, Massey University, New Zealand