Rimutaka Prison growing northern rata for Project Crimson

Each year Project Crimson’s Community Restoration Programme reviews applications and supplies trees or funding to groups and individuals around New Zealand who aspire to create a long-term benefit to their local community through conservation projects involving pohutukawa and rata.

Project Crimson partners with nurseries all around the country to deliver these trees to recipients from the Community Restoration Programme. In Wellington, most of the northern rata stock is grown at the horticulture training unit in Rimutaka Prison.

Rimutaka Prison has been growing eco-sourced northern rata for Project Crimson for 5 years in their purpose-built training nursery. In this activity prisoners undertake a range of horticulture roles from preparing and planting, understanding and caring for plants, to potting and transporting seedlings. Prisoners are supported to learn on the job towards the National Certificate in Horticulture Level 2 and Level 3.

Department of Corrections Principal Instructor (Horticulture), Wayne Turner says “We are giving prisoners the opportunity to gain skills and work experience to increase their chances of obtaining employment after release. All of the men in the nursery are working towards Horticulture qualifications. They know where the plants are going and this gives them a sense of purpose and pride in their work.”

Project Crimson’s Conservation Manager, Caroline Wallace adds “The northern rata that we purchase from Rimutaka Prison is some of the best that we can buy. Not only are the plants of exceptional quality, but purchasing stock from prisons has been something that Project Crimson has been doing since the Trust was formed 25 years ago. These partnerships with prisons have provided sound horticultural training for inmates whilst providing Project Crimson with a guaranteed stock of quality, ecologically-sourced trees to distribute to community groups for planting through our Community Restoration Programme.”

 Principal Instructor, Wayne Turner in the Horticulture unit's shade house