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Prisoners get a chance to spread pleasure in Waikato district

Little library presented to Council staff at Spring Hill Corrections Facility 018
Prisoners at Spring Hill Corrections Facility are building 30 ‘little libraries’ for Waikato District Council’s ‘Placemaking’ programme that is designed to make the district’s public spaces inviting and boost residents’ enjoyment of their towns and villages.

Holding 20-30 books that can be borrowed and exchanged, each little library will be decorated and installed by local residents to enhance a local gathering place.

Waikato District Council acting Chief Executive Tony Whittaker says, “The Council welcomes the involvement of Spring Hill Corrections Facility for a project that we expect will bring pleasure into many lives.”

“We are a district of small communities, and this is a popular idea with book lovers who do not have a local public library.”

Megan Tuhoro, Acting Assistant Prison Director – Industry, Rehabilitation & Learning says: “This is a valuable chance for prisoners to contribute back to their community.  We appreciate the opportunity to be part of this interesting local project which will enhance the skill levels of prisoners and help with their reintegration back into the community.”

Communities being offered a little library built by prisoners at Spring Hill will start meeting at the end of this month to identify where and how these little libraries will be installed and decorated to suit the local community – and volunteers are gathering to undertake the work required. The project will involve individuals and groups in the following communities – Waingaro, Glen Massey, Waitetuna, Glen Afton/Pukemiro, Naike, Te Akau, Onewhero, Matangi, Tauwhare, Maramarua, Mangatangi, Mangatawhiri, Puketaha, Tamahere, Pukekawa, Port Waikato, Mercer, Eureka, Whatawhata, Te Uku, Ohinewai, Orini, Whitikahu, Waiterimu, Waerenga, Te Kowhai, Glen Murray, Rotongaro, Rangiriri and Te Hoe.

The Council’s ‘Placemaking’ programme – which was a finalist in the Local Government NZ Excellence Awards this year - has helped initiate and support a range of community projects such as public seating, planting, and art installation including an ANZAC ‘poppy tree’ project that saw about 350 people knit and crochet more than 4,000 woollen poppies to decorate 21 trees around the district for ANZAC Day this year.

The ‘little libraries’ project kicked off nearly a year ago with the first ‘little library’ built and installed in a sheltered area on the main street in Pokeno, together with unique seating and historic photos of the town.  Six little libraries in Huntly followed, earlier this year, in a collaborative project between the Council, Huntly Friendship House and the Menzshed Huntly.

Information about Placemaking , the philosophy behind it and the advantages it brings to the community can be found on the Waikato District Council website (search for ‘Placemaking’ on the site), or by contacting the Waikato District Council Community Placemaking team Betty Connolly ( and Lianne Van Den Bemd (


Photo (left to right): The first little library built by prisoners at Spring Hill Corrections Facility was presented to Waikato District Council at the prison yesterday. Pictured (from left): the Council’s Placemaking team, Policy Planner Community Development, Betty Connolly, and Community Development Adviser, Lianne Van Den Bemd, with Offender Employment Instructor Andrew McBean, Acting Assistant Prison Director, Megan Tuhoro, and Industries Manager Sean Smith.

For more information please contact:
Crystal Beavis
Senior Communications Advisor
Waikato District Council
07 824 8633
Corrections media team
04 460 3365