21 Dec 2018

Prisoners spruce up bikes to spread Christmas cheer

11:35 am on 21 December 2018

Inmates at the country's toughest jail are sprucing up bikes for needy children this Christmas.

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Photo: RNZ/ Dan Cook

About 20 bikes destined for children in care in Manurewa have been given a facelift by inmates at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo over the last few weeks.

Most of the bikes are either donated or picked up from dumps.

Corrections recycling instructor Nicholas Bosworth explained what happened next.

"The bikes come in, usually in a really bad disrepairable state, sort of rusty and broken down, so we just normally strip them back down again," he said.

"We get the guys to strip them back down, paint things that need repainting and breakdown...probably two bikes to make one good bike so we are actually recycling parts off another bike."

Each bike takes between one and three days to refurbish, depending on its condition.

One inmate, who for privacy reasons RNZ has decided to call John, said his favourite part was the test drives.

"I actually, quite like doing the smaller bikes, and so it's quite fun for me, being quite large, to ride around on the smallest possible bike."

Once they've passed a safety test - the bikes are donated to charities throughout New Zealand.

This Christmas, Corrections is donating 20 bikes to Oranga Tamariki, and AMI Insurance is donating the same number of helmets.

They'll end up in the South Auckland suburb of Manurewa with some of New Zealand's neediest children.

The project has been running for two years and another inmate, who RNZ will call James, has been participating for a large part of that time.

The idea of playing Santa to a needy child was a real motivator, he said.

"As offenders we've hurt a lot of people, and some of us have hurt children, and to be able to give back, to a child who has nothing, that's a real buzz - it's really awesome to do that," he said.

Oranga Tamariki coordinator Nahi Harding said the children who received bikes loved them.

"A lot of the kids in the area that we work in, they either don't have bikes, they can't afford bikes, and the financial situation doesn't allow for that to happen, so a lot of these kids that are going to get these bikes are going to absolutely treasure them."

For some children, these bikes, and donated gifts may be the first christmas presents they've ever received, said Mr Harding.

"Well if you saw them, you actually saw their faces on the day that they have these Christmas parties, they light up...they're like Christmas trees."

To donate a bike - you can call Auckland Prison on 09 442 6600