Rimutaka Prison inmates build state house from scratch

A house built by Rimutaka Prison inmates has been crane-lifted over the prison's walls, ready for a family to move in.

The 3-bedroom house is the first to be built at the men's prison, completed by eight inmates over 34 weeks as part of a construction training programme.

Rimutaka Prison director Viv Whelan said the house "provides hope for a positive future for the men who built it, and for the family who will live in it".

The men have completed a New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills, delivered by WelTec, which they chose to take part in.

Department of Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said: "When the men are involved in something positive in prison like this, it gives them a real lift in their self esteem, it's something they can talk to their families about. For many men in prison this will be the first qualification they've ever had."

The home is now the property of Housing New Zealand for tenants in Lower Hutt, while a second house is in the early stages of construction by another group of prisoners.

Mr Smith said Corrections has placed 1,000 people into jobs on their release from prison within the last year.

"What we've got to remember is that behind every person in prison there are children, families, parents, grandparents, people that really care about the men and women that are here," Mr Smith said.

"They need them to leave here and do something positive with their lives so that other people can look up to them and see them as role models, particularly if they've got children."

He said about two thirds of people who come to prison are unemployed. Within the last year, 2,000 men and women achieved 4,000 qualifications while in prison.

There are around 10,000 prisoners across the country, and 59 percent take part in education and training.