Building houses in prison is nothing new but it’s not every day you see one lifted high over the wire.
In November, a four bedroom home, in two modules, was freed from prison and craned from the Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) yard at Hawke’s Bay Prison, over the three metre high fence and razor wire and onto a waiting truck.
In a joint initiative between CIE and Habitat for Humanity, the house went to a local family in Hastings, who will pay rent towards eventually owning the house.
After a month of finishing work on the site, including connecting the two house modules, painting, cladding, fencing and landscaping, the key to the house was handed over to the Hungahunga family in December.
For nine weeks a group of five prisoners worked on putting the house together as part of their National Certificate in Building Construction and Allied Trade.
Four of the men signed the floor in the living room and watched the lift, from within the prison perimeter, with a sense of pride.
Prisoner Lance, a former meat worker, is now hoping to have a career as a builder.
“I’ve picked up a lot of skills and I just love it. It’s great, especially when you get to see the finished product. I’m just looking for someone to give me a chance when I get out of prison.”
He had been eagerly telling his mother on the phone about his plans to extend her house.
“I keep telling her she can trust me, that I have the skills. But I think I’ll start by building a verandah.”
“We never thought we would get our own home, so this is great,” says Sharne Repia. “The house looks wonderful. We were really excited about spending our first Christmas in our new home.”
“It’s a new start for us but it’s also good experience for the prisoners. They get to see something finished and they’re so proud of what they’ve done. I can’t believe only a few of them built it.”
CIE Timber Manager Gavin Houston said the project was a unique opportunity to give the prisoners real world work experience, which would help them get jobs on release.
“But the experience also teaches the prisoners to work as a team and develop other life skills.”
“This project supports a worthwhile local community initiative and allows the men to give something back to the public.”