The Waikeria Prison project began in July 2016 with a Prison Capacity Alternative Site Assessment to determine the most appropriate location for a proposed new prison facility in the upper north island. Three alternative sites were assessed against a number of criteria, including landscape and visual considerations.
The focus of the project was to assist the Department of Corrections with obtaining an alteration to the designation for the Waikeria Prison site. The Department sought an amendment to allow up to 3,000 prisoners to be accommodated on the site. From a landscape architectural perspective, the concept throughout all stages of the project process, from initial scoping to detailed design, was to ensure that the facility (within a large 94ha area of the 1276 ha larger prison site) could be integrated in to the existing rural landscape to minimise adverse effects on rural character and the visual amenity of neighbours, while also managing the expectations of tangata whenua and other stakeholders. The collective experience of Boffa Miskell’s landscape planning, cultural advisory and landscape architecture team with other projects of a similar nature ensured the response to the brief was sufficiently robust and appropriate to undergo detailed scrutiny by the Department, Regional and District Councils, stakeholders and the Environment Court.
In response to a challenging timeframe set by the New Zealand Department of Corrections, the expertise of landscape architects in the guiding of initial site selection, followed by setting key site planning and design parameters, proved to be critical in the overall success of this important project. The ability to work at a variety of scales, in order to document and understand the landscape resource was evident in the outcome and is commended. To supplement this analysis, the understanding and response to local knowledge sourced through effective engagement with the local community and mana whenua, has proven to form a key to the success of this landscape planning project. Too often, projects such as this fail to fully grasp the importance of effective engagement in order to assess the landscape as experienced by those that live in and whakapapa to the whenua.
Given the speed at which this project was to be delivered, the skill of the landscape architectural experts involved is demonstrated, resulting in the weaving of client expectations with community benefit and remediation of the landscape. Importantly, the project also recognises that landscape management is enduring and does not stop once the consenting phase and even the design has been completed. To this end, the benefits of effective early engagement continues into the future through mechanisms for ongoing kaitiakitanga.
This project is worthy of an Award of Excellence as it is a solid example of how the landscape architectural experts have utilised all of the tools in their tool box to achieve a successful overall landscape change, benefitting long term both the environment and the people that live within it.
Client: NZ Department of Corrections
Company: Boffa Miskell
Boffa Miskell - Sharon Dines, Peter Hall, John Goodwin, Ian Boothroyd, Jo Soanes, Fiona McLeod, John Potter, Robert Gordon, Sandeep Gangar
Te Onewa Consultants
Maniapoto ki Te Raki
Punui River Care Incorporated
Raukawa Charitable Trust
Te Roopū Kaumātua o Waikeria
Waikeria Prison Tangata Whenua Liaison Group