The new director of Manawatū Prison is impressed with what he has discovered at Linton.
Michael Rongo started in the top position at the prison five months ago.
He is humbled by the willingness of the staff who he says have great ideas and initiatives.
Rongo spoke at the Rotary Club of Palmerston North's meeting on Monday and was presented with 32 dictionaries for prisoners, which he said were beautiful books that would be used.
Rongo started his Department of Corrections career at Rimutaka Prison in 2005. He was born and raised in Ōtepoti (Dunedin) and after leaving school followed his family to Sealord, where he worked as a fish filleter.
He was encouraged to join Corrections by friends.
"My career thus far has been awesome."
He moved to Manawatū from Kaitaia - he was prison director at Northland Region Corrections Facility in Kaikohe.
Rongo and his wife have seven children aged from 26 to 6.
Rongo said he was also impressed with the length of service of the staff at Manawatū. An officer recently retired after 43 years.
The operational capability of Manawatu Prison is 251 men and there are 189 staff.
It runs a range of industry and training activities - agriculture, carpentry, farm maintenance, landscaping, whakairo (wood carving), painting, garden maintenance, kitchen, laundry, and construction.
Corrections has about 10,000 staff (full-time, part-time and casual) with 50.4 per cent of them men. Nearly 69 per cent are European, 21.2 Māori, 12.9 Pacific and 10.8 Asian.
The average age of the staff is 46 and 85 per cent of staff work on the frontline.
Rotarian Ron Schalkwijk said the gifting of dictionaries to prisons and schools is an initiative set up by Bill Boyd, the second New Zealander to be president of Rotary International. The Usborne Illustrated English Dictionaries are purchased through a trust Boyd established.
Schalkwijk said literacy is something we all take for granted but this is not necessarily the case for prisoners. A lack of literacy can mean people are excluded from society.