Fifty years behind bars
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