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Auckland Prison donates plants grown by prisoners

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

About 1000 of the native trees planted at Te Hōnonga a Iwi Restoring Rosedale Park in 2023 were donated by an Auckland Prison programme that is providing men at Paremoremo with valuable skills and experience that improves their prospects of employment upon release, potentially reducing their likelihood of reoffending.

There are currently around 46,000 saplings being grown as part of the Auckland Prison nursery programme, says Prison Director Steve Parr.

Up to 25 men will be engaged in the nursery programme at any one time. They are all residents in the Te Piriti Unit.

The programme gives the men the opportunity to learn practical skills while also giving back to their local community. It provides a working environment similar to a commercial nursery environment, and the men are able to gain recognised qualifications (level 2 and 3 qualifications in Horticulture and Apiculture).

“This provides the men involved with skills and opportunities to work in the horticulture industry on release. The men also develop leadership skills, with some being promoted to supervisor status, which further supports their personal and professional development,” Steve says.

Over a three-year rolling period the prison will donate around 46,000 saplings, an average of approximately 15,000 plants a year.

The saplings have been donated to organisations such as Te Hōnonga a Iwi, along with Trees That Count, Greenhithe Community Trust, Hosking Reserve, and the Pakiri Trust.

Depending on the type of plant, conditions being planted in, requirements of the organisation taking them, and the demand, these plants are generally donated from one to three years old.

The programme is operated by three instructors who teach the men horticultural skills alongside the tikanga related to horticulture. They also support the Te Piriti Unit in creating an understanding of te ao Māori.

The Auckland Prison garden started in 1998. In addition to the nursery, the Unit grows vegetables, which are donated to the Salvation Army, Kai Collective, and the Good Works Trust. They are also used in the prison’s own kitchen. Approximately seven tonne of vegetables are donated annually.

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