Wellington Prison Pastoral Care Ministry


Wellington Prison was situated near the northern tip of the Miramar Peninsula about 3 kilometres from the Miramar Township. Mount Crawford Prison opened in 1915. It became a woman’s prison in 1919 and a reform school for men and women in 1924. The present facility opened in 1927. The Motto on the Coat of Arms above the entrance to the prison is ‘Dieu Et Mon Droit’ (God and my right), and on the Garter Belt ‘Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense’ (Evil to him who evil thinks). Mount Crawford prison closed in 2008 and reopened again as Wellington Prison in 2009.

Wellington Prison had a population of 120 prisoners although it used to hold more than 200 prisoners and was a remand prison covering the catchment area from Levin to Nelson. Remand prisoners were transferred to Rimutaka Prison in the mid 1990’s. An access road from the prison led to the Prison Officer Cadet Training School situated on a plateau near the Massey War Memorial in Shelly Bay. The Cadet Training School was transferred to the Officer Training College attached to Rimutaka Prison in 1978. The old Cadet Training School area is now used by Peter Jackson as a Film Set area for his movies.

Wellington Prison was designated as a Segregation Prison with high, medium and low classification prisoners. The majority of Wellington prisoners were segregated prisoners because of their particular offences or prisoners who requested protection from other prisoners for various reasons.

In past years, Monday to Friday evening programmes were available for prisoners.  These included that included Bible Studies, Alcohol and Drug programmes and other social activities such as a Debating Club, Indoor Bowling, etc.  More than twenty volunteer groups, mainly church service groups, provided evening programmes at the Prison, some weekly, and some fortnightly, monthly or bi-monthly groups.  When prisoners went into 'lock-down" from 5pm to 8am there were no evening programmes at the prison.

There were two part-time chaplains presently ministering at Wellington Prison, Colonel Peter Savage (Salvation Army), and Brother Kieran Garvey (a Capuchin Friar). Brother Kieran had ministered as chaplain to the prison since 1972, and said that he has seen many changes at the prison during that time. 

Wellington Prison was closed permanently in 2012.

Brother Kieran Garvey was recognised by the Queen with a Queen's Service Medal in 2008 for his service to Prison Chaplaincy. He returned to his birth place, Cork, Ireland in 2012 when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Brother Kieran passed away peacefully at the Bon Secours Hospital, 9 July 2013 surrounded by his family.

Mount Crawford Prison