Waikeria Prison

Increasing capacity at Waikeria Prison

It is the Department of Corrections’ responsibility to ensure there are enough prisoner places in New Zealand for any offender remanded in custody or sentenced. In response to the rising demand in prisoner numbers, Cabinet has given the Department approval to increase the capacity of New Zealand’s prison network.

The Department proposes to increase the capacity of the existing Waikeria Prison site by amending the current planning designation to allow up to 3000 prisoners to be accommodated on the site. The increase in capacity will enable a new facility for 1500 to be built and provide for future demand if needed.

The Proposal

The existing designation in the Otorohanga District Plan allows up to 1250 prisoners to be accommodated on the site.

The Department of Corrections is proposing to:

  • change the designation to accommodate up to 3000 prisoners on the site
  • obtain associated resource consents, if required, for earthworks, stormwater and wastewater disposal and removal of contaminated material from the site
  • if the designation change is approved, build new prison facilities on the site within the Building Zone shown on Figure 1 (PDF1.09MB) and Figure 2 (PDF 3.25MB).

In parallel to the consenting process, the Department will run a procurement process for the design, construction and maintenance of the new facility. This is to be delivered through a Public Private Partnership and the contract signed with the private partner in April 2018. It is therefore not possible to provide detailed plans of the proposed facility at this stage.

Ahead of the detailed design, the Department has developed the following parameters to help people understand more about the prison activity and the proposed built form (such as height and building materials).

These parameters also help the Department’s technical specialists assess the effects of the proposed development of Waikeria Prison on the environment. The technical specialists will assess effects such as social, cultural, economic, landscape/visual, lighting/glare, noise, traffic, archaeological, ecological and construction; and, identify options to avoid, remedy or mitigate these effects where possible.

Proposed parameters:



Prisoner Numbers

Accommodation for the management of up to 3,000 prisoners.

Prisoner Type

Men or Women

No maximum security prisoners


Corrections uses and the housing of prisoners.

Building Height

12m in Building Zone

(see Figure 1 and Figure 2)

excluding lighting, security devices, poles, sallyport and roof projections

Height of Primary Physical Barrier

6 metres

Secure perimeter

Will include:

  • Primary Physical Barrier
  • Fences outside the Primary Physical barrier
  • An access road around the outside of the   fences
  • A surveillance strip outside the access   road

Building location

No building capable of accommodating prisoners overnight will be located outside the Building Zone 1 shown on Figure 1 and Figure 2.

Building materials

Use non-reflective glass and roof materials and a recessive colour scheme

Car parking and access

The extent of car parking and changes to the roading layout on the site will be determined by the traffic engineers for the project in due course

Emergency access arrangements

Any changes required to the emergency access arrangements for the site will be determined by Department of Corrections and the traffic engineers in consultation with the Police and Emergency Services.

Construction noise

The construction activities will comply with the requirements of NZS 6803 Construction Noise.


The existing noise limits for the site will continue to be complied with. These are:

At the notional boundary of a dwelling existing at [the date of the NoR application]


7am-10pm             55dB LA10


7am – 7pm            55dB LA10

Sunday and Public Holidays

8am – 5pm            55dB LA10

All other times

45 dB LA10/70 dB LAmax


The existing lighting limits for the site will continue to be complied with. These are:

Light levels from fixed lighting at the prison site measured at a height of 1.5 metres above ground level at or beyond the boundary of the designated site shall not exceed 10 lux.

Except for emergency and security incident lighting, all new exterior lighting installation shall be designed and constructed to the following obtrusive light limitations:

Sky Glow

UWLR (Max %)


Light Spillage

Ev (Lux)


Glare Source

Intensity 1



Building Luminance



These parameters will be included in the Department’s amendment to the designation application, which will be lodged with Council in April 2017.

The planning designation and resource consents approvals process will result in set parameters (restrictions) and conditions relating to the prison activity and the design of buildings/structures.

Why Waikeria?

Waikeria Prison has been part of the Waipa and King Country landscape for over 100 years. Our analysis indicates that additional prisoner places are required in the upper North Island.  The prison site is large enough to support the existing prison and an additional facility.  The Department already owns the land and, as such, the location offers effective use of our existing resources.

The new facility will mean a significant investment in the region, creating hundreds of jobs and ensuring the long-term viability of a prison in the region.

Community consultation

Commencing in late 2016 the Department consulted with the local community. People were invited to give feedback to the Department by attending the public open days, submitting feedback forms, meeting with Department representatives one-on-one, submitting emails or calling the 0800 number. The feedback received has helped inform the Department’s application.

The Department will lodge its application with the Otorohanga District Council in April 2017. The application will be publicly notified and anyone can make a formal submission and be heard during the planning process.