Howard Leaque Beekeeper programme graduation

Thank you for the opportunity to be here to present certificates to the 16 graduates who have completed a beekeeping course delivered by the Howard League.

Let us start by acknowledging Auckland Prison’s Deputy Prison Director Tom Sherlock, and Acting Assistant Regional Commissioner of Corrections Northern Region Scott Walker - thank you for supporting this programme and for your commitment to helping people turn their lives around.

We must also acknowledge Howard League President Tony Gibbs, CEO Mike Williams, and volunteers John Sinclair, Adrian Tullock, Elizabeth Street, Andrew Barclay, and Peter Sidgley – thank you for the important work you do to educate and rehabilitate offenders.

Thank you in particular to volunteer Brian Alexander, who cannot be here today.

Brian has retired from a 40 year career as a commercial beekeeper, and now shares his knowledge through delivering the beekeeping programme both here at Auckland Prison and at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility.

And of course, congratulations to the graduates receiving certificates for completing their beekeeping courses today.

As the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of New Zealand First let me commend the intent by programmes such as this.

All forms of education and rehabilitation are steps in the right direction. Programmes like this are a catalyst for change, and change for the better.

We know that gaining a qualification or having work experience gives people a much better chance of finding a job, and staying on the right track once they leave prison.

This education and training is key to reducing reoffending and keeping our communities safe.

By gaining these qualifications, you have given yourselves a significant opportunity to not only start a career but also support yourselves and those you care about in the long-run.  

Not everyone is willing to put their hand up to learn, but you did.

You persevered with practical classes and written assignments, and have mastered new skills like opening hives, monitoring bee activity, and checking hive health.

These skills are substantial achievements and you should be extremely proud of yourselves.

My challenge to you now is to keep learning, and to put what you learn to good use both now and when you get out.

Once again, thank you to everyone here today.

As well as acknowledging the effort of those of you who have graduated, it is important to acknowledge the efforts of the Howard League.

It is one of the reasons why you see me here today because it is important to respect those who are dedicated to help you. 

Not only do you have a chance to live better lives, but the benefits to all citizens and taxpayers are tangible.

So on that final note, let me congratulate you all for taking the practical steps towards making a difference. Well done.