Ex-prisoner thanks Destiny for rehabilitation

Clinton Hinga says he's now on the straight & narrow thanks to a Destiny Church programme (Newshub,)
Clinton Hinga says he's now on the straight & narrow thanks to a Destiny Church programme (Newshub,)

Clinton Hinga has spent more than a decade behind bars.

The 30-year-old was released from prison more than a year ago. He says he's been on the straight and narrow since and credits that to Destiny Church's Man Up programme.

"I was on a cycle of drugs, gang life, street life, jail life, thug life -- that was my life. That was my life before I came here to 'Man Up' at Destiny Church. These days I'm sober and clean. I've been clean for over a year and a half."

The south Auckland resident says he recently got married and is now working full-time.

"I've never worked in my life. I've never ever worked in my life -- never. Now I love my job. It's pretty strenuous; it's hard-out work. But I love the fact of feeling good that I earned my money. No victim was traumatised, hurt. No one came to their house and seen their door was kicked down, their window was smashed, their car was taken, their jewellery was gone, their TV was gone."

The 12-week Man Up programme that Hinga completed helps men deal with issues including crime, violence, drugs, alcohol and depression.

It's run by Caine Warren -- church founder Bishop Brian Tamaki's son-in-law.

Destiny Church has a controversial history. Bishop Tamaki, who is known for his lavish lifestyle, recently came under fire after a post on Twitter that appeared to suggest he brought money under his control in the same way Jesus was said to have controlled natural elements.

"I believe Man Up is a cycle breaker to come in and help men break the cycle of dysfunction that's happened to them in their childhood and they've repeated it now as an adult," says Mr Warren.

Although the course has only been going for around a year, Mr Warren claims the success rate is high, with more than 300 men already taking part this year.

Manurewa resident T Sami has also completed the course. Four months ago he was homeless and says he was in a dark place.

"I guess when you are 22 years old and you have nowhere to go and your family aren't around and you have no job -- like the world feels pretty lonely."

He heard about Man Up and says since taking part in the programme he now has a job and a roof over his head.

Kaiui Tukinga mentors some of the people taking part. He says he deals with young men from incredibly challenging backgrounds. He believes the reason the programme works is because it's run by men who have also overcome huge challenges.

"I can relate to brothers that have walked that walk that I used to walk. There is hope that you can get out of the hood," says Tukinga.