Prisoners in Waikeria’s Rata Unit are developing woodworking skills and creative talents as they repair broken puzzles for kindergartens.
“The prisoners have recently finished their first assignment repairing wooden jigsaw puzzles for Laughton Kindergarten in Taupo,” says Waikeria North Prison Manager Paul O’Byrne.
“They are very proud of their efforts and so they should be. It’s fabulous work they’re doing and it provides them with a chance to give something back to the community.”
The majority of the prisoners had no woodworking skills before starting this project, however the initiative is not just about learning how to use a coping saw.
“The Unit Manager used to be a carpenter by trade so he’s passed on a lot of his expertise but the project is benefiting the prisoners in other ways. The work teaches them things like personal discipline, attention to detail as well as setting and reaching goals.
“These are all life-skills that the prisoners will need to help them reintegrate back into the community once they are released.”
As part of the repair process, the prisoners determine the shape of the missing piece from a photocopy of the jigsaw before manufacturing a new piece and painting it up to match the rest of the puzzle.
Mr O’Byrne says at this stage they are concentrating on wooden jigsaw puzzles but may look to repairing other wooden toys in the future.
“I am very keen to see local communities and prisons working closer together to the benefit of both parties so if any other kindergartens or toy libraries in the Waikato/BoP area have puzzles that need fixing our prisoners are here to help.”
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