Forestry pilot programme launched in Far North

30 April 2019

Forestry pilot programme launched in Far North

Inmates at the Northern Region Corrections Facility in Ngawha are the first in New Zealand to learn forestry skills through a work to release pilot, as part of the One Billion Trees Programme.

The pilot was jointly developed by Te Uru Rākau and the Department of Corrections, and will be delivered by NorthTec staff to up to 15 Corrections inmates.

The programme enables the inmates to gain skills in forestry, in preparation for employment after being released. Through the programme, they are also able to physically train and work outside the prison with a local contractor, Craig Zilinski of Silviculture Contractors Ltd.

The Corrections inmates are studying for the New Zealand Certificate in Forest Industry Foundation Skills (Level 2) programme, delivered by Phil Nikora from NorthTec’s forestry department. He said: “The students are very keen to complete the course, and are very aware of the importance of embracing this challenge, as this could lead to other work to release programmes in the future.”

When released from prison, the students will have a qualification and skills that will enable them to be marketable in the forest industry for career opportunities.

The students attend the course Monday to Thursday, and are completing the theory components. They will be transported to a local planting site by a Corrections van and accompanied by Corrections staff who will be on site monitoring the students. They will be paid for the work done on site.

The programme was launched by Hon. Kelvin Davis and Hon. Shane Jones, on behalf of the Government.
“It is these sorts of initiatives that are really at the core of what the One Billion Trees Programme is all about,” Shane Jones said. “Yes, it’s about planting trees, but it’s also about providing employment opportunities and helping fill skill shortages. This pilot could pave the way for prisoners who are at the end of their sentence to find employment in the forestry sector – one of our most successful industries.”

Kelvin Davis says this pilot expands on the successful release to work programme already in place in New Zealand prisons.

“A good proportion of people in New Zealand prisons participate in employment or industry training. This is a great opportunity to expand our release to work programmes while also supporting regional employment opportunities and helping to reach the government’s goal of planting one billion trees by 2028,” Kelvin Davis said. The programme has been running since late March, and the graduation is scheduled for 12 July.

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