Prisoners and staff carrying the baton in New Zealand’s first ‘relay for life’ type event held inside Spring Hill Corrections Facility have raised around $3500 through pledges and donations for the Waikato/ Bay of Plenty Cancer Society. The event has proved so successful that there are now plans for it to be run annually.
The relay was opened on Friday afternoon with a karakia from the prison Kaumatua, a speech from Prison Manager Gavin Dalziel and a performance from the prisoner Kapa Haka group. A group of survivors of cancer then took to the track inside the prison to complete the first lap.
“Our survivors really set the tone for the day. Seeing this group make their way around the course together, with remembrance bags that had been decorated with messages such as “To my mum, in God’s hands” lining their path really highlighted the reason we were running. Cancer affects everyone in New Zealand, inside a prison or out,” says Mr Dalziel.
“Both staff and prisoners joined forces throughout the day to ensure the specially carved baton remained on the track.”
Prisoners of different security classifications are prevented from mixing together so ‘teams’ of ten prisoners from each unit all ran the course in allotted time slots while prisoners from the Pacific Focus Unit kept energy levels high with a lively performance. Staff took possession of the baton following the last of the prisoners being locked in their cells for the night at 8.30pm and continued through till 7.00am when prisoners were unlocked and completed the relay at 10.00am.
“I really have to pay testament to the group of staff who set this initiative up – an event like this in the community is not easy to organise, let alone in the restrictive environment of a prison, but they took it on themselves and they did an amazing job.”
“The prisoners involved behaved impeccably, and with the staff, rose to the challenge of ensuring the baton completed 250 laps of the course over the twenty hours. The numbers of walkers on the track at any one time meant over 1,200 kilometres was travelled within the walls of the prison. Some staff who had worked all day stayed after their shifts and carried the baton through the night. The monetary support from sponsors, staff and prisoners has meant that we expect to hand over a donation of around $3,500 to the Cancer Society.”
Waikato District Mayor Peter Harris contacted Mr Dalziel after seeing an article in the Waikato Times last week about the event to express his support, saying he was pleased to see such a positive contribution being made by prisoners towards the Waikato community.
“Cancer affects many people from all walks of life, not only those suffering from the disease, but also those around them in their communities".
For further information contact the Communications Services Desk on (04) 460 3365 or by email email@example.com