Mount Eden Prisons
Mount Eden Prisons refers to two New Zealand prisons, located in Lauder Road in the Central Auckland suburb of Mt Eden. They are:
  • Mount Eden Prison, which holds about 420 sentenced male prisoners
  • Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP), which holds about 415 male remand prisonors (remand prisoners are awaiting trial or sentencing)
The prisons are in connected but separate buildings, and are very different architecturally. There has been a prison on the Mount Eden site since 1856 and Mount Eden Prison has a 'category one' classification from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust due to its historical significance and architectural quality. A major project to redevelop the site and create a combined facility began in late 2008. New accommodation blocks and support facilities will be constructed to replace the old prison building. The historic Mount Eden Prison building will be restored and converted for staff and administration use. The project is due to be complete by the end of 2012. The New Zealand Government also decided in May 2010 that the combined Mount Eden/Auckland Central Remand Prison will be managed by a private company. This is expected to happen in 2011.


The original prison was a military stockade built in 1856. It became the city's main prison when the old city gaol (corner of Queen and Victoria streets) was demolished in 1865. The stone wall and the foundations were completed in 1872, the building proper was commenced in 1882 and finished in 1917. Intended to house 220 prisoners, it was designed by P.F.M Burrows and resembles Dartmoor Prison in England. It consists of a radial design with a number of wings radiating out from the centre like the spokes of a wheel. This allows for control from the centre "from which the outlook may be complete and constant". This is obviously an application of the panopticon prison design theories of Jeremy Bentham. The old prison has been given a 'Category I' classification by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Mount Eden Prison was also the site of New Zealand's last execution, with Walter James Bolton hanged on 18 February 1957 for murdering his wife Beatrice with poison. A song was written, performed and published about a famous escapee from the prison, George Wilder. The first time, 29 January 1963, he was free for 172 days, during which time he travelled 1,620 miles and committed 40 crimes. In 1962, Pat Boone's song ' Speedy Gonzales' became 'George The Wilder Colonial Boy', by the Howard Morrison Quartet. There was a major riot at Mt Eden prison on Tuesday and Wednesday, 20 and 21 July 1965. Prisoners rioted for 33 hours after a prison guard caught two prisoners trying to escape. Chaos ensued as prisoners burnt much of the prison, including the prison records. The riot was a sensational event for the pupils and staff of the two neighbouring boys' secondary schools, Auckland Grammar School and St Peter's College. Auckland Central Remand Prison opened in July 2000, and was New Zealand's first privately run prison. It was originally managed by Australasian Correctional Management Limited (later called Global Expertise in Outsourcing NZ Ltd), before reverting to the state's Public Prisons Service in July 2005. The New Zealand Government decided in May 2010 that contract management will once again be implemented at Auckland Central Remand Prison/Mt Eden. A company to take over management of the combined prison is expected to be announced in 2011.

In June 2007 it was announced that a new six-storey prison building and another four-storey accommodation block would be built on the southern side of the old Mount Eden prison building by 2011. This would increase the total number of beds by 450. The nineteenth-century prison complex would be converted to administrative space, in accordance with its heritage classification. The prison redevelopment will also see a new secure gatehouse, a visitor centre and a multi-level carpark added to the structure. Underground tunnels will link the different sections. Another change will see the disappearance of barbed wire around the complex, which is to be replaced by secure building design. There has been substantial criticism of the proposed height of the new prison building, which at up to 30 m will be visible from the close-by motorway viaduct and also tower over the surrounding area, which unlike the prison zone itself, has a 15 m building height limit. Vocal opponents include the former Mayor of Auckland, John Banks. On 7 May 2008, the New Zealand Government confirmed the redevelopment of the prison and construction started in 2008. As of mid 2010, one car parking building is complete, while two new prison blocks are rising, with significant security arrangements to keep apart workers and existing prisoners adding complexity to the task.

Building Activity

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