A will to change


A COMPLETE metamorphosis after an 18-year methamphetamine addiction has helped a drug supplier escape another prison sentence.

Opotiki women Pauline Denise Rahora Tai pleaded guilty to two charges each of supplying methamphetamine and conspiring to deal methamphetamine, when she appeared in the Whakatane District Court last week.

For the past 10 months, the 40-year-old has been “clean” and has attended two residential rehabilitation programmes and a community course.

“I have changed my life dramatically. I have learned more in the past eight months that I have known my whole life,” she told the court.

With aspirations to learn more and stay clean, Tai wants to complete Te Taketake, a diploma in applied addictions counselling. But in order to take the level-seven course, applicants need to be clean for two years.

Judge Louis Bidois said Tai had completed a three-month residential rehabilitation programme before completing a 10-week community-based programme. Realising she needed more help, she completed the three-month residential programme again.

“What she has demonstrated can step outside the usual sentencing process,” he said.
What would have been a sentence of imprisonment was instead replaced with a lengthy sentence of intensive supervision and judicial monitoring.

The recent offending was Tai’s second lot of methamphetamine supply charges.

In 2006, she was sentenced to prison for similar offending.

After going through a list of issues Tai was subject to in the past, like alcohol and drug abuse, gang life, abandonment, broken relationships, petty crime and dealing drugs, Judge Bidois said the extra money from selling was a reward and justification for her use.

“Then you went through a total metamorphosis and a total abstinence of drugs,” Judge Bidois said.

He wanted to support Tai’s intention to support others in the same situation to stop.
Judge Bidois read a statement from Tai’s affidavit:

“I used because I wanted to. This became a habit, which became a necessity. Stopping was a necessity, which became a habit. I stopped because I wanted to.”

Judge Bidois recognised Tai’s will to change and commended her on the extra help she sought.

“So many times, I send people to prison when they should be in rehab. Most of the time it’s due to a lack of facility.”

“A 12-weeks programme isn’t long enough, and Tai recognised the need to consolidate learnings from that first residential programme.

“When re-entering the programme, she knew it would take her away from family over Christmas – short term pain for a long-term gain.”

With Tai’s effort and dedication evident, Judge Bidois said he didn’t have to follow the normal sentencing process.

Tai was sentenced to two years’ intensive supervision and judicial monitoring.

“Other people in the community will say that anyone who sells meth should go to jail and they are right, but the reality is, it’s better to have someone who has recovered from meth use help others rather than locking them up in jail.”