Female prisoners are learning practical painting skills through working at their own Arohata Upper Prison home.
Under a staff instructor, eight prisoners are painting vacant wings at the self-contained 56-bed unit on the grounds of the all-male Rimutaka Prison in Upper Hutt.
Increased inmate numbers at the Arohata Prison in Tawa meant the unit came into partial use in mid-February.
Two wings, each with 28 cells, are being painted as the site is refreshed to accommodate the phased arrival of female prisoners.
READ MORE:* Arohata Prison’s female inmates housed in self-contained unit * More women prisoners mean 60 new beds for Arohata Prison * Up to 262 prison jobs may be cut in major Corrections restructure * Inside Arohata Women’s Prison
Sanding and painting are some of the skills the women are learning, offender employment instructor James Faraimo said.
“Four of the women haven’t picked up a paintbrush before so this is a new experience for them. And they’ve picked it up within a week.”
He is teaching them to use acrylic enamel paint on concrete substrate.
The women were also learning about working in a team and communicating with each other, Faraimo said.
The prisoners worked in pairs painting a cell with one cutting in on the existing cover as the other rolled the paint.
One inmate with no previous painting experience said she was “loving” the work
“I’m learning how to paint, how to clean a brush, how to prepare the substrate.”
“We’re a good team,” a prisoner with some experience painting at another prison said.
When the re-location of female prisoners was announced the Corrections Department emphasised there would be no contact with the 1000 men locked inside Rimutaka Prison.
“The Arohata Upper Prison, while located near Rimutaka Prison, is geographically isolated from it and prisoners in each site are unable to see each other,” Corrections chief custodial officer Neil Beales said.
Corrections needed the beds at Upper Hutt ahead of the completion of a new 60-bed unit at Arohata, due to open later in the year.