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 helped the Department’s technical specialists assess the effects of the proposed development of Waikeria Prison on the environment. The technical specialists assessed 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:



Activities and Buildings within the Waikeria Prison designation

Prisoner Numbers

Accommodation for the management of 3,000 prisoners.

Prisoner Type

Men or Women.

All security levels except for maximum security prisoners.


Corrections uses.

Road access

No new accessways to the Waikeria Prison site are proposed.

Emergency access arrangements

Any changes required to the emergency access arrangements for the site will be determined by Department in consultation with the Police and emergency services.


Lighting for all activities outside the proposed Building Zone will comply with conditions 4 and 5 of the existing Waikeria Prison designation.


Noise for all activities outside the proposed Building Zone will comply with the noise requirements of the Otorohanga District Plan.

Activities and Buildings in the proposed Building Zone

Maximum Building Height


Excluding structures for lighting, light poles electronic security and communication towers.

Maximum Height of the Secure Perimeter


The secure perimeter will include:

  • Primary Physical Barrier;
  • Additional fences outside the Primary   Physical barrier; and
  • Two access roads for Corrections vehicles,   either side of the fence.

Building location

All new prison facilities will be located within the proposed Building Zone

Building materials

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

Car parking

The design and layout of car parking and any changes to the private internal road layout on the Waikeria prison site will be determined through the design process.

All new car parking areas will be in the proposed Building Zone.

Construction noise

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


The noise limits are detailed below and will apply at the notional boundary of rural dwellings existing at [date NoR is confirmed].


7am-10pm               50dB LA10


7am – 7pm              50dB LA10

Sunday and Public Holidays

8am – 5pm              50dB LA10

All other times

40 dB LA10/70 dB LAmax


Lighting will comply with the requirements of the Otorohanga District Plan, existing designation conditions 4 and 5 and the technical principles of AS 4282 – 1997 (Control of the Obtrusive Effects of Outdoor Lighting).

These parameters are included in the Department’s amendment to the designation application.

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 lodged its application with the Otorohanga District Council in April 2017. Otorohanga District Council notified the application on 27 April 2017 and the public can make a submission until 25 May 2017.