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Prison jobs prove popular

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 04/09/2014
Mike Inglis and recruitment manager Lisa Taiapa
Anna Loren

CHANGING MINDS: South Auckland Corrections Facility prison director Mike Inglis and recruitment manager Lisa Taiapa say the community response to their work has been hugely positive.

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It was a rocky start but residents are now flocking to work at the new men's prison in droves, recruitment manager Lisa Taiapa says.

Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri will open next year and Taiapa is on the hunt for the people who will make it run.

One hundred prison officers and 150 other staff, including teachers, doctors and psychologists, are being sought for the facility, which will be run by private operator Serco.

The response to the recruitment drive has been "really, really positive", Taiapa said.

"One community meeting at the Otara Leisure Centre . . . it was pouring down with rain and we still had 130 people come in."

The Papakura woman and her team have attended the Pasifika festival, the Papakura careers expo, the Tainui waka regatta and community youth meetings to get their message out.

They have also met staff at Manukau Institute of Technology, Te Wananga o Aotearoa and local branches of Work and Income.

Those meetings have been an important part of changing misconceptions about the prison, she said.

"It's always been engaging with people at a grassroots level, having open evenings and talking to people about what it is and what this environment is," she said.

Prison director Mike Inglis said the key is "healthy, honest discussion".

Reactions to the new prison have not always been favourable but he is committed to showing people it will make a difference for the men in its care, he said.

"It's not an overnight thing. We'll be running this contract for the next 25 years," he said.

Twenty-six of the prison's 30 buildings have now been completed, with about 250 construction workers still on site.

Serco communications manager Jane Palmer said she is keen to hold an open day for the community before the prison's official opening in May next year.

There will be a "gradual build-up" of inmates - about 60 or 70 each week - between May and August. At capacity the prison will be able to house 960.

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- Manukau Courier

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