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Christmas behind the wire

Tuesday 17 December 2019

A basic and nutritious meal will be served to approximately 10,000 prisoners in New Zealand on 25 December.

The lunch, prepared by prisoners learning hospitality skills through employment in prison kitchens, will consist of chicken and vegetables while roast beef and salad sandwiches will be served for dinner.

“Our Christmas lunch is the same at all the 17 prisons we manage nationwide and is a similar meal to what has been provided on Christmas Day for many years. It consists of the standard meal of chicken and vegetables that gets served normally – with the addition of a fruit mince tart to mark the day,” says Corrections National Commissioner Rachel Leota.

“In prison Christmas is much the same as any other day, but we do host whānau activities during December so kids can celebrate with their mum or dad ahead of Christmas.”

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

Women and staff at Arohata Prison performed songs, dance and kapa haka at a Christmas concert organised in partnership with Zonta Mana. The money raised from the ticket sales will be donated to local women-focused charities and projects, including Women’s Refuge.

Prisoners at Otago Corrections Facility have used their carpentry skills to build toys for around 100 children spending Christmas in Dunedin Hospital.

Meanwhile men at Auckland Prison have refurbished bicycles and Tonka toys to donate as gifts for children through the Prison Fellowship of New Zealand’s Angel Tree Christmas initiative.

“Christmas gives people in prison and on community-based sentences an opportunity to use their skills to make a difference in their local communities. This also gives them a sense of purpose which is a positive step in their rehabilitation,” says Rachel Leota.

“We operate a 24-hour service for 365 days a year, so this means many of our frontline staff will be away from their whānau at Christmas too. I’d like to thank them for their commitment to ensuring the safe and secure operation of prisons, and management of offenders in the community during the holiday period.”


• A vegetarian option of vegetable lasagne is available for Christmas lunch.

• All Christmas Day meals are prepared and cooked by prisoners in the prison kitchens under the guidance of qualified catering instructors.


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