Three prisoners with low literacy have graduated from the New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform’s literacy programme at Rimutaka Prison.

Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga presents a graduate of the New Zealand Howard League with his certificate while the League's president Tony Gibbs looks on.The League’s literacy programme is delivered by volunteers and aims to improve the literacy levels of prisoners.   Around 70% of prisoners have low levels of reading and writing.

Two of the men participated in the reading and story book programme, where they became familiar with reading a particular children’s book they’d chosen, and recorded it onto CD for their children. The third has advanced his grammar skills and vocabulary.

The three men received their certificates from Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga in a graduation ceremony at the prison on Thursday 13 August. The graduation was also attended by Tony Gibbs, president NZ Howard League for Penal Reform, the organisation’s CEO Mike Williams and the men’s tutors.

Since the literacy programme started in Rimutaka Prison in 2013, a total of 23 men have received one-on-one tuition from the NZ Howard League.

For information about becoming a prison volunteer tutor, contact Mike Williams (email

In addition to volunteers, such as the New Zealand Howard League, Corrections provides a range of literacy and numeracy support to prisoners.  Corrections has recently changed the way in which face-to-face literacy and numeracy support services are directly provided to prisoners.

Soon prisoners will be able to access a new suite of intensive literacy and numeracy support services that will be targeted and tailored to their individual needs. The Department is committed to providing prisoners with the literacy and numeracy support they need to progress into higher level education and employment.