Inmates build a display for Auckland Flower & Garden Show

Most people wouldn't think of looking behind the wire for flower show inspiration.

But it's inside a Paremoremo prison workshop where one inmate has been chipping away at something great.

"I got handed some rough designs on a copy, and went from there. Marked them out, cut them out, redesigned a few and yeah," he said.

The prisoner, who we can't name, is talking about the bold wooden shapes he painstakingly hand-cut three hours a day, for nearly a month. There's a bee, a butterfly, and a flower, nearly 400 of them to be exact.

"It helps kill the time, time flies."

All of the cutouts are destined for a display wall at the New Zealand Flower & Garden Show.

Not only that, but inmates have been constructing metal sculptures that'll be auctioned off to support the Breast Cancer Foundation.

Auckland Prison manager industries David Grear says it's projects like these that help prisoners' rehabilitation.

"They really enjoy these sorts of projects where they feel like they're making a difference to the world outside the wire.

"I think it's a really important part of their journey as they progress through the prison."

But it's not only prisoners rolling up their sleeves - the flower show has also enlisted some tiny helpers. Students from West Auckland's Freyberg Community School have been tasked with painting some of the wooden cutouts.

Most of the kids know where their work is going, but they've also been told where the templates came from.

"I think that it's really helpful for people that have done the wrong thing, and then they just made the right thing," student Olive Galea.

This is the second year the flower show has worked with Corrections, and event organiser Kate Hillier says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

"We went out specifically to west Auckland schools and we were inundated and we already have a waiting list for next year," she said.

"If it can help teach the prisoners a skill that they can use once they get out, then that's all for the better."

As for the finished product, it's a visual feast of colour that'll be on display at the flower show at Auckland's Trusts Arena from next Wednesday.


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