Prisoners at Arohata paint artwork for Mother's DayArohata Prison is marking Mother’s Day with activities that children visiting their mothers can do together.

“Mother’s Day in Arohata is about making sure the children of prisoners know they are loved and thought about,” says Kym Grierson, Assistant Prison Director, Arohata and Rimutaka prisons.

“Not everyone will get a visit from their family, which is why we also designed a card the women have sent to their children with a personal message about what they love about being their mother.

“The visits centre has been brightened up for children who are visiting and there are plenty of activities for them.”

Face and nail painting, colouring in and having their photo taken with mum are some of the activities planned for children. Cake baked in the prison’s kitchen will also be available.

Children will also be encouraged to help colour in the large heart-shaped artwork painted by a prisoner. Once finished, the heart will be hung in the visits area.

“Maintaining positive family connections can help prisoners with their reintegration into the community when released,” says Ms Grierson.

The prison’s social worker has been an important part of helping with the day’s activities.

“Our social worker is working with women who are concerned about their children’s wellbeing in the community or where the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki is involved in their children’s lives. She is also supporting women who are pregnant, young women in need of support and those who identify as trans.

“We want to make this a positive, memorable day for everyone involved,” says Ms Grierson.

Research has shown that on any given day, around 20,000 children have a parent in prison in New Zealand. Arohata Prison is located in Tawa, 16 kms from Wellington’s CBD. It is one of New Zealand’s three women’s prisons, and can accommodate up to 160 minimum to high security female prisoners which includes remand accused and remand convicted prisoners.  It is the only women’s prison with a Drug Treatment Unit.