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Christmas for New Zealand’s prisoners

Christmas for New Zealand’s prisoners

A modest Christmas lunch will be served up in 17 Corrections-run prisons across the country on 25 December.

The lunch, prepared by prisoners learning hospitality skills through employment in prison kitchens, will consist of chicken, and vegetables, while cold meat and salads will be served for dinner. Prisoners will also get two mini fruit mince pies each to mark the day.

“Our Christmas menu will feed up to 10,000 prisoners in our care. We’re able to mark the special day with a few small changes to our normal menu, which meet both nutritional and budgetary requirements,” says Corrections Acting National Commissioner Ben Clark.

“Christmas can be a difficult time for prisoners’ families, which is why we hold whānau days in the lead up to Christmas where kids can take part in festive activities with their mum or dad.

“For prisoners, Christmas Day is much the same as any other day, but, where possible, we offer additional sports and other activities for individuals in our care.”

Corrections staff, prisoners and community-based offenders have also been giving back to their local communities in the build up to the festive season.

Prisoners at Otago Corrections Facility and Invercargill Prison have used their carpentry skills to build toys for children spending Christmas in hospital, while prisoners at Auckland Prison have been busy restoring children’s bikes to donate to kids in care.

Meanwhile staff and prisoners at Tongariro Prison, alongside Taupo Quiltmakers, have made quilts for Age Concern Taupo. Community Corrections staff in Manawatu have worked with their colleagues from the Ministry of Social Development to deliver care packages to vulnerable families in Palmerston North, and make sure that people know where to get help if they need it during the holidays.

“Christmas can be a difficult, lonely and sometimes stressful time for the people that we work with in the community. It’s been great to see our staff focussing on community safety by making sure that people can access support if things are getting tough for them.”

Freshly harvested produce grown by prisoners across the country has been donated to local foodbanks and charities, including the Salvation Army on Auckland’s North Shore, Women’s Refuge in the Hutt Valley and to Te Korowai Ropu for their Love Soup initiative which provides free kai to people in need in the Taupo region.

“At Corrections, we feel it’s extremely important for staff and prisoners alike to support the communities we are part of,” says Ben Clark.

“Being able to use their skills to make a difference gives prisoners a sense of purpose and pride, especially around Christmas time. It can also provide a further step in their journey to turning their lives around.”


• A vegetarian option of chickpea and pumpkin casserole is available.
• All Christmas Day meals are prepared and cooked by prisoners in the prison kitchens under the guidance of qualified catering instructors.

© Scoop Media

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