Today the Minister of Corrections, the Hon. Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga opened the new Auckland South Corrections Facility at Wiri.
The prison, also known as Kohuora, is one of the most modern corrections facilities in the world and will house up to 960 male prisoners in a high security environment. The facility was built to manage prisoner capacity in Auckland and focus on reducing reoffending by enabling closer contact with family and whanau and establishing local employment links that will be vital upon release.
Kohuora will be operated by Serco under a 25 year agreement with the Department of Corrections. Since 2011, Serco has operated Mt Eden Corrections Facility in Auckland, currently the highest ranked prison on the national performance table, with an 'Exceptional' rating. Serco has extensive experience in running prisons in Australia and the United Kingdom.
The Minister has said that the contract to design, build and operate the facility will deliver a 17 percent saving to taxpayers. Serco will employ 284 staff in a number of roles.
The facility's design draws on international research and expertise to ensure that the outcomes of reducing reoffending in a safe, secure and decent setting can be met. State of the art security management systems will be used for the first time in New Zealand. Up to 240 prisoners with low security ratings will be housed in self-care accommodation.
Prisoner programmes will be aligned with Serco's 'pathways' strategy, drawn from international research into reducing reoffending. A dedicated team will work with prisoner's families to support the rehabilitation process. There will be a strong focus on employment. The site has sizeable facilities dedicated to vocational and educational activity, and Serco has developed partnerships with local employers to offer prisoners practical experience while in the prison that will lead to real jobs on release.
Serco is focused on delivering better outcomes for Maori.
The land has cultural significance to Ngati Te Akitai Waiohua and Ngati Te Ata, and Whare Manaaki and Fale Pasifika centres have been built to reconnect Maori and Pasifika prisoners with their culture. The majority of the custodial staff are Maori or Pasifika, who want to work with their own people to reduce their over-representation within the prison system.
Construction of Auckland South Corrections Facility commenced in 2012.
Serco Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer Mark Irwin said the opening represented a significant milestone after three years of planning and preparation.
'I am extremely proud of the work that the team has achieved. We have recruited a great team who are dedicated to making a positive difference to prisoners' lives and helping to keep the community safe. We look forward to working closely with our partners to make Auckland South Corrections Facility a centre of excellence.'
The first prisoners will arrive on 18 May, with the facility expected to reach full operating capacity in October 2015.