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New Plymouth Prison Public Open Day

For Immediate Release 4 March 2013

New Plymouth Prison Public Open Day


One of New Zealand’s oldest prisons will be open to the public this weekend before it officially closes at the end of the month.

New Plymouth Prison will be open from 9am to 3pm this Saturday for the community to have a last look around.

Terry Buffery, Regional Commissioner, Corrections Services, says visitors will be able to find out more about the 140 year old prison’s colourful history.

“The prison was originally built as a wooden military hospital in the 1850s. In 1870, the hospital was converted into a prison. The prison and its site has a rich cultural heritage, which will interest many Taranaki residents,” he says.

Mr Buffery says the prison is closing because it has reached the end of its life.

“New Plymouth Prison falls short of the expectations of a modern corrections facility focused on rehabilitation and reducing re-offending. We want prisoners to have access to the right facilities to help stop them re-offending,” he says.

In the 1870s the penal system focused on confinement and punishment rather than rehabilitation, which visitors will be able to see in Unit One which has some of the smallest cells in the country - just 7x10 feet (2mx3m).

Visitors will take a self-guided tour through the prison and have the opportunity to find out more about justice sector projects in New Plymouth, including the new Police Station which opens mid-year. The station includes 12 cells capable of holding up to 24 Corrections' prisoners, managed by Corrections Officers.

Entry to the open day is by gold coin donation with proceeds going to local charities, including Hospice Taranaki, the New Plymouth Community Foodbank, the Children’s Ward at Taranaki Base Hospital and the Lions Club.

All prisoners have been relocated to other prisons.

Open Day Details

When: New Plymouth Prison Open Day, Saturday 9 March, 9am – 3pm.

Where: Robe Street, New Plymouth 4310

Cost: Entry by gold coin donation, with all proceeds going to Hospice Taranaki, the New Plymouth Community Foodbank, the Children’s Ward at Taranaki Base Hospital and the Lions Club.

Remember: Corrections facilities are smoke-free. Visitors are encouraged to car-pool as there is limited parking at the prison and surrounding streets.

ENDS

Note to Reporters

New Plymouth Prison will be decommissioned following its official closure.

New Plymouth Prison is registered Category 1 under the Historic Places Act 1993. Once the site has been decommissioned, the Department intends to hand it over to Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to manage the disposal of the buildings and land, taking into account both historic and treaty settlement considerations.

Over the course of its life the prison has seen a number of changes which reflect changes in the penal system. At one time there was a large yard used by prisoners sentenced to hard labour to break stones from the nearby quarry. In recent years a nursery has operated out of the prison, growing native plants and seedlings for local projects.

New Zealand’s oldest prison, Mt Eden Prison, closed in mid 2011 having been in operation since 1856. The building is a listed historic place.

Wellington Prison closed earlier this year, having reached the end of its life. It was recently handed over to LINZ for disposal.

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