On 24 July, Corrections and Housing New Zealand staff were joined by the Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key, Minister of Corrections Hon Anne Tolley, Minister of Housing Hon Dr Nick Smith, local mayors, MPs and officials, to celebrate the return of the first four homes from Rolleston Prison Construction Yard to Housing New Zealand housing stock in east Christchurch.

These four houses are the first of the 150 damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes that will be refurbished by prisoners and community offenders at the construction yard over the next five years.

This partnership between Corrections and Housing New Zealand helps prisoners and offenders to gain skills and qualifications while also contributing to the rebuild.

The joint initiative will see 30 red zone houses repaired and refitted each year. It is estimated that the first four houses alone have engaged more that 120 prisoners in constructive activity and gaining trade skills in areas such as carpentry, plastering, painting and decorating.

Each of the four two-bedroom houses has undergone extensive work, including new insulation, carpets, kitchens and bathrooms. They will be warm and dry homes for families in need and illustrate how this project is not just about rebuilding houses.

"They look good, they're warm and they're ready for families to move in" said Department of Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith.

"It felt good being there to see the look of joy on the face of one of the tenants who will be moving in."

Housing New Zealand Chief Executive Glen Sowry, Department of Corrections, Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith, Minister of Corrections Hon Anne Tolley, and Minister of Housing Hon Dr Nick Smith