Waikeria Prison’s dairy instructors need to have big boots – they essentially have three roles to fill; that of corrections officer, dairy farmer and teacher.

The instructors play a vital role in the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners. By showcasing their farming knowledge and expertise, they challenge the prisoners to fulfil their potential. It takes a special person to make it a true success – someone with the passion and commitment to motivate others.

Ryan O’Regan is one not-so-average dairy farmer who works on the prison farm. With more than 12 years’ previous experience in the dairy industry, including gaining the relevant farm management papers, he is now in his seventh year with Corrections.

As well as managing 3200 cows, he helps prisoners gain training and qualifications in agriculture.

“It’s really important that you know your business, and by that I mean being able to identify issues and utilise the strengths and weaknesses of both instructors and prisoners to get the best job done.

“As with any other industry it is important to know that the potential employee can do the job they are employed to do. Here at Waikeria we are a training institution and we deliver qualifications to an NZQA standard, as set by the Primary Industry Training Organisation.

“The majority of our instructors are registered assessors and by working alongside the prisoners, we can ensure that they have the skills necessary to complete any required tasks.”

Ryan is passionate about helping prisoners find employment on release as he knows this is a major contributing factor to them not re-offending.

“The prisoners are generally very enthusiastic, hard workers and with a high demand for dairy workers across the country, all it takes is for someone to give them a chance.”

Operating over 1000ha, our dairy operation runs as a separate business unit, with both skills training and commercial objectives. The three dairy units produce more than one million kilograms of milk solids per year.

The prison, south of Te Awamutu, was created more than 100 years ago as a reformatory farm to provide a focus on training and meet the country’s need for farmers.

Big changes have taken place at the farms recently to ensure the environmental risks associated with dairy farming are effectively managed. Early last year Corrections identified a need to upgrade the effluent ponds. This involved a complete redesign and build of new infrastructure at the three Waikeria dairy farms that would be sustainable, effective and meet the requirements of the Waikato Regional Council.

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a dairy instructor, find out more on the careers section of our website.

Dairy Instructor Ryan O'Regan