A safe, secure, and respectful environment for all
The new facilities at Waikeria will provide a safe, secure, and respectful environment for staff, visitors, and prisoners. The facility has been designed with safety and security as a priority. It has also been designed as an environment to effectively support successful rehabilitation and mental health treatment. The design will enhance the ability for staff to safely and effectively manage people serving prison sentences.
Built adjacent to existing prison units, the new development includes a variety of buildings within a secure perimeter. Various buildings for prison accommodation, the Waikeria Mental Health and Addiction Service, rehabilitation programme rooms, staff training rooms, and prison administration will be developed. Staff will be well supported with high quality amenities and car-parking.
Additional beds at Waikeria will allow more people from the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions to stay close to their family, whānau, and support networks while they serve their sentence. This will help to improve outcomes for people leaving prison and re-joining the community.
A key feature of the new facilities is its ability to cater for greater industry, treatment, and learning opportunities for prisoners. Bigger kitchens, laundries, and industry hubs will enable more prisoners to gain experience in a variety of vocational training programmes designed to support them to maintain crime-free lives upon release.
The development of the new facility has also provided opportunities for a small number of low security prisoners on Release-To-Work programmes. Prisoners taking part in the programme are working alongside contractors and gaining valuable work experience in the construction industry, with some of these men retaining their employment when released from prison.
Corrections will continue to strengthen relationships with the local community and iwi to increase employment and training opportunities for people in custody at Waikeria to support their journey towards living crime-free lives.
We know that the safety of our staff, community and visitors is crucial. Higher traffic volumes will be experienced on roads surrounding the prison both during construction and once the facilities are operational.
We have worked alongside Ōtorohanga District Council, Waipa District Council, and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to ensure that appropriate transport infrastructure is developed where needed to enhance the safety of motorists.
A number of enhancements have already been made, with road widening and improvements to the bridge over the Pūniu River on Waikeria Road complete.
Installation of a right-hand turn bay on State Highway 3 into Waikeria Road was completed in July 2019 with further improvements made in November 2019, enabling safer turning into Waikeria Road, and generally improving the intersection design and sight lines.
Local infrastructure upgrades
Corrections has engaged extensively with local iwi, Waipa District Council, Waikato Regional Council, and nearby residents to develop solutions to improve the surrounding ecology. A consistent theme raised during community consultation was the desire to protect the Pūniu River.
Waipa District Council has worked with Department of Corrections to build a brand-new wastewater connection for the Waikeria Prison, including a 10km wastewater pipeline from the Prison through to Kihikihi. The new connection will allow wastewater from Waikeria Prison to be treated at the Te Awamutu wastewater treatment plant.
In July 2019 local company Spartan Construction was awarded the contract for the pipeline project by Waipa District Council . An upgrade of the existing wastewater network in Te Awamutu between the Albert Park Pump Station was also implemented in parallel.
Construction of the Waikeria wastewater upgrade was completed in March 2021 and is now fully operational. This has enabled work to decommission the existing treatment plant at Waikeria Prison to commence.