New life in prison for old NZ post bikes
Old New Zealand Post bicycles are being refurbished by prisoners and given to ex-inmates to help them get around on the outside.
As buggies take over many delivery routes, New Zealand Post is sending its old bikes to Christchurch Men's Prison for inmates to fix up.
Pathway Trust, a Christchurch charity helping prisoners reintegrate into society, receives the bikes from New Zealand Post, delivers them to prisoners to fix them, and then gives them to released offenders for transport.
Nate* is the first released inmate to receive one of the done-up bicycles.
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"It's kind of funny because my mum and two of my aunties have been posties," he said.
"Postie bikes have been in our garages or in our driveways for all my childhood, so it's ironic that I now have a postie bike to get around on. I think my mum gets a bit of humour in that."
The bike will be Nate's main form of transport.
"I don't have my driver's licence – biking's quite fashionable," he said.
"It gives me the self-reliance and freedom of not having to rely on other people to drive; I can rely on bikes."
The bikes are taken to Christchurch Men's Prison's youth unit, where young inmates strip the bikes. Prisoners who work at the on-site auto-engineering department then paint them, and they are sent back to the youth unit for rebuilding.
A 19-year-old youth offender spoken to by Stuff on Friday was busy stripping the bikes, removing the red New Zealand Post branding.
"We're completely stripping them down to bare nothing," he said.
"I'm doing it mostly because I want to get experience. I love the mechanical side of it . . . it makes me feel like I'm not at jail, it feels like I'm at home."
Corrections officer Kieran Giles said the programme helped youth offenders gain experience before the real world hit them.
"It gives them a focus and it gives them a job. A job is 90 per cent of it for these guys."
Pathway wanted to turn it into a scholarship programme, allowing youth offenders to get work experience in the bike industry once they left prison.
Pathway reintegration manager Carey Ewing said it was important to help offenders find employment.
"We're all about fresh starts – sometimes small stuff like bikes can give people opportunities."
Pathway expected to get about 100 bikes from New Zealand Post in the next year.
Buggies were introduced to New Zealand in mid-2016 and each bike was removed from service after five years of use.
A New Zealand Post spokeswoman said over 100 bikes had been given to community groups across the country.
* Name has been changed.