2 Oct 2017

Prisoners' garden to feature at Flower and Garden show

From Checkpoint, 6:26 pm on 2 October 2017

A garden project created by prisoners at Auckland Prison in Paremoremo is set to feature at this year's New Zealand Flower and Garden Show.

The garden design is based on the prisoners' road to redemption.

David Grier, Auckland Prison manager of industries, said prisoners' self-worth and confidence grew when doing these projects.

"They are not specifically commercially focused so the outcomes are more social... and it's a great chance to show off the skill set and amazing ability some of them have."

Mr Grier said prisoners picked up horticultural qualifications and learnt skills they could use once back in the community.

"I find that the idea prisoners don't care about any thing is not true ... many of them have connections back to their own whānau and community."

In the prison workshop, prisoners worked on different elements of the garden design.

Prisoner A has skills in weaving and Māori craft and was helping to make the centrepiece of the garden - a woven seating area or kohanga.

"Each strand is like a strand of the whānau coming together, working together being woven together."

Another prisoner is creating metal Tī Kōuka trees out of old exhaust pipes.

Adam Shuter designed the garden and had input from prisoners.

He said more prisoners joined the project as it gathered momentum.

"You see the passion in them and I can the change in their faces," he said.

The garden will feature native plants, illusion panels, a reflective ponds and whakairo made from prisoners at Ngawha Prison in Northland.

Mr Shuter said the garden featured various paths - reflecting the journey prisoners make on their way out of prison.

"They can either go two ways - the easy way back to jail or with family support and that they can succeed."

The garden will be on display this November in Auckland at the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show.