Prisoners tending to plants in the Horticulture unit at Rimutaka Prison.A former prisoner who gained a National Certificate in Horticulture Level 3 while inside has secured a job in a plant nursery, thanks to the skills and training he developed in Rimutaka’s horticulture unit.

In an email to his Offender Employment Instructors, the former prisoner acknowledges their support and advises of his employment. An extract of the email reads:

“Just a quick thank you for all your help while I was on your side of the fence. Today, I have just secured a job at [withheld] so hoping I can seek advice from you from time to time.

“All the best. I think it is nice to occasionally get some feedback that the job you are both doing does make a difference.”

The prison’s horticulture courses have a high success rate, with 90% of the men who enter the courses passing.

The classroom component of the course includes embedded literacy and numeracy. Prisoners learn the botanical names for plants, plant identification, botany and biology, soil science and propagation. They also gain practical experience developing, growing and maintaining a large vegetable garden each. The produce is then donated to Upper Hutt Foodbank.

Rimutaka’s horticulture unit not only operates as a training workshop, it also grows native seedlings for use around the site and for community work parties to plant in the community. It also supplies Rata trees to the Project Crimson Trust to distribute to schools, and plant along our coastlines and forests.

Course graduates have work-ready skills to work in council parks and reserves, gardens and golf courses among other sites.