19 October 2023

Reflections from our new recruits

Kyrah, Paige, Owen and Will are all recently graduated recruits. They share what they have learnt about the Corrections Officer role since they started - both through training and their time on the floor.


What did you know about the Corrections Officer role before joining?

I had a basic idea of the role; I knew that the role was in the everyday operation of the prison. I knew that it meant unlocking/locking and spending majority of the day with prisoners. I had the usual misconceptions that working in a prison would mean constantly being on edge and “watching my back”.

I thought of the role as more of a security role while also being able to engage with prisoners, I was surprised with the number of additional tasks that Corrections Officers do daily that don’t involve prisoner contact.

I assumed that the role was arriving to prison, unlocking, preventing fights, or preventing harm and then locking, but there’s so much more to this role!

What did you learn about the role in training?

I learnt a lot about the role in training, they taught us all about the people we would be meeting and how different each of them is. I learnt a lot more about the role and how Corrections Officers have a wide range of responsibilities that go beyond just unlocking and locking. It was great to learn how we all work together to keep each other safe.

I realised how often things like checks, searches and rub downs were completed and how much paperwork was involved in the role. I learnt how to approach difficult situations, more about mental health and how to work with others either as workmates or in a professional working relationship with prisoners.

I really enjoyed going through training as a cohort of new officers, it was super beneficial to learn off each other and the different experiences we have all had during our training. 5 weeks of our training is about observation, and it is really helpful to get to know how the prison you are working in operates. Every prison has different prisoners, it really is a completely different experience in each prison.

Now that you’re on the floor, how has your understanding of the role grown? What aspects were similar to what you expected and what aspects have surprised you?

We work to understand and engage with all sorts of people in all sorts of mental states -  this has definitely been something that can only be taught being on the floor. You can only do so much training but once you are trained and have these tricky conversations daily is when you know how to answer questions and face problems in front of you.

Over time, my understanding of the role has grown greatly. The paperwork, thoroughness of checks, searches and professionalism in the role was something that I expected, and I continue to see in my work. The good relationships between officers and prisoners has definitely been something that has surprised me and probably would surprise a lot of people.

Although there is the professionalism that you are the officer and they are the prisoners, you can still have a good day chatting to prisoners and getting your work done while doing this. I have seen that officers who can relate to prisoners are the ones they respect the most, and ensure the smooth running of the day especially when changing landings or when there is tension in the unit.

I’m proud of what I do to keep our communities safe while supporting people to get the help they need.


What did you imagine the corrections officer position to be?

Well, I thought it would look like how it does on movies if I’m completely honest, but I knew the role would be face to face with prisoners as well as meeting their daily entitlements. I knew the role would be challenging, but I was up for that challenge and haven’t looked back. I imagined that no day would be the same and not your average everyday job.

This has turned out to be true - no day is ever the same, plans can change quick based on staff and what is happening around site. But it’s an awesome job and I love it!

What did you learn while training?

While training to become a Corrections Officer, you go to the National Learning Centre (NLC) which is in Upper Hutt. While at the NLC you learn a wide range of skills and are put into different real-life situations to give you the understanding of what to expect, as well as what to do when in these situations. You learn a lot during college on the basics you need to know to be a Corrections Officer. Fire and first aid were part of the training also.

When you have passed college don’t think the training has stopped, each day you learn something new, I’m still learning new things.

How are you finding it now you’re on the floor?

It’s been going well! Yes, times can be challenging as you are dealing with people who may be coming off drugs or who have difficult behaviour. But not once have I looked back and wondered about the choice I made. You have a wide range of support onsite, which helps to keep us safe.

I have gained great confidence in my role and the learning never stops. Hopefully sometime in the future I will work my way up the chain into higher roles. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and have a positive mindset.

My advice for someone interested in the position is to go for it! Knowing you have an awesome team there to back you up makes a difference, there may be tough times but there’s support in place when and if needed. But if you want to become a Corrections Officer go for it, don’t let anyone say you can’t because you don’t know till you try.



What did you know about the Corrections Officer role before joining?

I had very basic knowledge of what a CO did other than opening unlocking doors and searches.

What did you learn about the role in training?

We learnt the basics on how to conduct tasks around the facilities and engage with prisoners in a safe manner, as well as different types of file notes, policies and so forth. Also, the range of other roles an Officer can do around the prison – for example, Drug Screening Officer, Programmes Officer, Movements Officer, Receiving Officer, Security.

Now that you’re on the floor, how has your understanding of the role grown? What aspects were similar to what you expected and what aspects have surprised you?

My understanding of the role has grown through my own experience dealing with the prisoners in the role I do with the Tenei Au programme. Every Officer has their own way of working in this space and we all learn from each other to find out what works and what doesn’t, while still maintaining safety and staying within policy. It can be a rewarding job when you start seeing changes in the prisoners that want to turn their life around.


What did you know about the Corrections Officer role before joining?

Not whole lot - I knew it could be a hard job to go into mentally. When I worked for a security company my manager on that job talked me into Corrections because I was telling him how I wanted to be a police officer, but I wanted to have some kind of knowledge and experience.  That’s why I went into that security job, but it wasn’t really what I wanted so he told me about Corrections and that I should join.  So, I went on Trade Me and applied now I’m here.

What did you learn about the role in training?

Up at NLC you learn the basics, like how to access different databases, and the legislation we need to follow.  But the last two weeks of training at NLC are very essential. You get your Tactical Ops, Tactical Exit, Control & Restraint and Pepper spray training – all essential skills to help us do our jobs while staying safe.

Those weeks were the most engaging of the training for me.  It prepared me for the Remand/ISU roster by giving me the confidence to be able to ask questions that I don’t know the answers to. We’re all here to support each other.

Now that you’re on the floor, how has your understanding of the role grown? What aspects were similar to what you expected and what aspects have surprised you?

Well, where to start?  Staff have been so lovely and patient with me while I take it all in. When I was doing my shadowing, I found that it helps your wellbeing to have sense of humour in what can be a challenging environment.

Through learning my role, I had to be on my toes, always ready to go and I love it. It’s never the same each day but I like this type of learning.

Ready to make a move?

Start your journey - check out the a list of our current opportunities then apply online today!