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Second Chance At A Career For Released Prisoners

Second Chance At A Career For Released Prisoners

The Department of Corrections and Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will see prisoners trained for a career in the horticulture industry, while also addressing the industry’s need for work-ready employees.

The initiative will be piloted at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison and involve industry-specific training behind bars. In the longer term the training will also be offered to community-based offenders.

Speaking at the HortNZ Recognised Seasonal Employer Conference in Hawke’s Bay on Wednesday, Stephen Cunningham, Corrections’ Director of Offender Employment and Reintegration says the MOU formalises the partnership between the two organisations.

“The industry’s employers have supported Corrections over a number of years through the Release to Work programme. The agreement will deliver training packages that will make prisoners work-ready for employers and offer permanent career opportunities to prisoners once released.

“We look forward to the ongoing relationship that will see people with convictions getting a second chance to build and establish a career in one of New Zealand’s biggest industries,” he said.

HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman says the horticulture industry is always looking for keen and enthusiastic workers who are looking to build their knowledge and skills in the industry.

“Horticulture has jobs. We employ more than 50,000 people every year. It is a constant struggle for the industry to make sure it gets all the trained staff it needs.

“A programme like this cements the already long established relationships growers have with sourcing workers from Corrections. We look forward to being part of an initiative which will be a win-win for the people involved and for the industry,” Mike says.

Anthony Rarere, Managing Director for Pick Hawke’s Bay, is one of the local industry employers who supports the agreement:

“Pick Hawkes Bay is in full support to assist Corrections in training and reintegrating prison learners into our horticulture industry.

“Our grower members are constantly on the lookout to find willing and able fulltime staff to assist in producing the top quality produce that New Zealand horticulture is well known for.”

Mr Cunningham said the partnership is a win for everyone. “Prisoners will be released with meaningful skills and qualifications; the industry will get trained and qualified employees that will help a labour shortage; and the community will also benefit as research shows that getting a sustainable job can reduce the likelihood of re-offending and help create safer communities.”

Training will be directed at eligible prisoners who want a career in horticulture and will be released and stay within the Hawke’s Bay area. Hawkes Bay Regional Prison already offers training in Growsafe certification and the safe operation of quad bikes and forklifts, among many training opportunities.

The MOU was signed by Corrections Lower North Regional Commissioner Paul Tomlinson and Horticulture New Zealand’s Chief Executive Mike Chapman at the HortNZ Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Conference in Hawke’s Bay on 6 July.

For more information about education, training and employment support for prisoners, visit


For more information about Horticulture New Zealand, visit



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