Fifty years be­hind bars

North Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - LAINE MOGER

Al­bany’s Neville Mark has been work­ing for prisons for 50 years.

This milestone makes him the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion’s longest­stand­ing staff mem­ber, but he jokes and says he doesn’t know whether to cel­e­brate or feel sorry for him­self.

‘‘Medals and recog­ni­tion of achieve­ment are reg­is­tered in mul­ti­ples of seven years. How­ever, they usu­ally stop at 42 years of ser­vice. So, I didn’t think I would have to cel­e­brate after that,’’ Mark said.

On Jan­uary 23, 1968, Mark joined the depart­ment as a 17-year-old school leaver from Te Awa­mutu. He was at­tracted to the ca­reer when the Jus­tice Depart­ment said it wanted to change the di­rec­tion of prisons to­wards re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

After his two years’ train­ing in Wellington his first post was at Waik­e­ria Prison. The start­ing salary was $1209 a year.

Re­flect­ing on his half-cen­tury of work­ing in a prison, Mark said, ‘‘No, it hasn’t made me cyn­i­cal.’’ In fact, he is proud to be a part of the sys­tem try­ing to make pos­i­tive changes.

‘‘I wouldn’t and couldn’t keep work­ing if I didn’t think I was mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. Not once has that hap­pened to me in 50 years,’’ Mark said.

‘‘Chal­lenges are ad­dic­tive,’’ he said. ‘‘Work­ers are faced with

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