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Source: New Zealand Government

Excellent progress has been made at the new prison development at Waikeria, which will boost mental health services and improve rehabilitation opportunities for people in prison, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says.

Kelvin Davis was onsite at the new build to meet with staff and see the construction first-hand, following a hui at Mangatoatoa Marae with mana whenua and Waikato DHB partners. Now in its peak construction phase, the project will deliver modern prison accommodation for up to 500 people and a first-of-its-kind 100-bed mental health and addiction service.

“What we’re building here embodies our Government’s commitment to doing things differently to break the cycle of offending and make our communities safer,” Kelvin Davis said.

“We have built a strong working partnership with Ngāti Maniapoto, Raukawa, and the Waikato DHB to design the model of care for the new mental health and addiction service.

“The facility and outreach service will be based at Waikeria Prison and available to people at Central Region prisons, benefitting around 2,000 men each year.

“It’s great to see such a collective effort to provide wraparound services to those in prison who need the most help,” Kelvin Davis said.

Kelvin Davis said the development will also provide more rehabilitation, education, and training opportunities for people in prison.

“This is going to be a step forward in realising Corrections’ new strategy Hōkai Rangi,” Kelvin Davis said.

“There will be more spaces for whānau contact than in any other prison to date.

“Modern facilities will help reduce prisoner tension and improve staff working conditions. More people from around the region will be able to serve their sentences closer to their whānau and support networks,” Kelvin Davis said.

The site has also used Corrections’ release to work programme extensively. Release to work allows minimum security prisoners who are assessed as suitable to engage in paid employment in the community, in order to help them gain employment on release.

“Over the course of the construction, 45 men have taken part in the release to work programme here, and it’s fantastic to see that 15 of those men have retained permanent employment after their release,” Kelvin Davis said.

“That’s a critical part in the rehabilitation of a prisoner and their transition back into everyday life. That’s what this project is about.

“We rejected the previous National Government’s plans to build a US-style mega-prison because we know they don’t work and just end up churning out hardened criminals.

“Instead, we will be delivering real rehabilitation and mental health support to reduce reoffending and help people get their lives back on track,” Kelvin Davis said.

The new facility is scheduled to be delivered in August 2022. A period of commissioning will occur before new prison units are brought into operation.

Notes to editors

  • The project site is 21 hectares, consists of 29 new buildings, and includes a secure perimeter fence of 1.7 kilometres in length, with well over 700 contractors on-site daily.
  • In addition to Ngāti Maniapoto, Raukawa, and the Waikato DHB, Corrections has also worked with representatives from Ōtorohanga District Council, Waipa District Council, schools, education providers, businesses, non-government organisations, Police, and other government departments since the project began.

MIL OSI