Auckland programme carves out new future for marginalised people

A wood carving programme in west Auckland is being described as a type of therapy for those who are homeless and mentally ill.

It's run by the Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust, who say it's giving some marginalised people a sense of purpose.

"You get an ugly piece of wood and take all the rough edges away and you find something beautiful in there," participant Patrick Halliday told Newshub.

He also helps mentor new people and says he sees huge changes in those taking part.

"Seeing them smile, seeing them talk - they're more open. They were isolated before," Mr Halliday said.

Grant Wilson set up the programme called Taniwha-Tales almost two years ago, initially to help the homeless. But now it's attracting around 20 people a day.

"These guys were spat at, abused, told to get a job. So when they make beautiful things and people come in here and stroke it and say how wonderful it is - you can see the light in their eyes lighting up," Mr Wilson said.

That's certainly the case for 50-year-old Jason Raiwhara, who used to live in a tent in Henderson and says he spent his days wandering without purpose.

"It's just the same routine day in day out and kind of drives you nuts."

That was until he started carving and discovered a talent he never knew he had.

"I didn't know I could do something like that. Sometimes I go back home and lie down and go, 'Did I just finish carving that?'," he said.

He's now off the streets and fully committed to creating his art.

Homeless man Rob Marriner also takes part in the programme and says it gives him a purpose.

"This gives me a life. It's a mind therapy for me. If I knew this at the age of 15 or 16, I suppose my life would have been different."