Auckland Prison inmates set sights on NZ Flower and Garden Show

Behind the barbed wire at Auckland Prison, you'll find something unexpected - inmates nurturing native plants, growing a garden that will feature at the NZ Flower and Garden Show.

"It keeps us busy and gives us something to focus on other than the same sort of thing every day," says inmate 'John', who can't be named. "That's been quite good."

Award-winning landscaper Adam Shuter designed the garden, based on feedback from the Paremoremo prisoners and is overseeing its construction behind bars.

"People see them coming in as bad people and they are - they've done a crime," says Mr Shuter. "But people don't see them going out and that's what the garden's about - redemption."

Inmate 'David' will put 'ta moko' on these plywood faces - one each for a mother, father and children, representing family on the path to redemption.

"There's that single path back to your criminal ways, back to your old habbits and then there's the new path that most people want, but it's hard to get there."

This will be the garden's centrepiece - 8000 metres of string, woven by the soft hands of hardened criminals.

Shuter's so impressed, he's agreed to hire two of them when they get out.

"They're just normal guys," he says. "They've stuffed up and they just need a break.

"Sometimes thinking about it just gives me goosebumps, thinking about what it is doing for these guys."

Says 'David': "I just want to be somebody really - someone to my family, someone to my kids."

Inmates who've chosen to turn over a new leaf will be rewarded. Their families get to see the their hard work on display at the Garden Show in Auckland at the end of the month.