Dana Phillips thanks the prisoners for the Habitat house they have built for her and her children It was a fond farewell for the third house built by prisoners at Northland Region Corrections Facility as it was lifted over the wire to become a new home for a single mum and her three children.

The house is the latest in a three-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity that has taught prisoners valuable building and construction skills while providing homes for those in need.

Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates homes for people in housing need in New Zealand and around the world. This is the forty-first home Habitat has built in Northland.

Construction of the house started in November 2015 and the 10 prisoners who built it all are part of the prison’s carpentry programme working towards completing their Level 3 Certificate in Building Construction and Allied Trade Skills through Weltec.

Claire Szabo, CEO of Habitat for Humanity in NZ, Samoa and Tonga, said the partnership between Corrections and Habitat for Humanity was incredibly valuable. “Corrections and Habitat are in discussion to determine the nature of ongoing future collaboration,” said Ms Szabo.

The house was lifted in three stages on Friday, 17 June: once from inside the prison perimeter then over a wire fence into a sterile area. The crane had to be readjusted and on Friday afternoon, the house was lifted over the main prison fence to the outside. The house was then lifted on to a truck and transported to the Whangarei section where the electrical work and plumbing would be finalised.

Corrections Minster Judith Collins attended the lifting ceremony at the prison.

“Building this house provided a great opportunity for prisoners to learn skills for future employment,” says Ms Collins. “Working on a real project prepares them for a career in construction, while also helping a Northland family in need. Supporting prisoners into stable employment is key to improving the lives not only of offenders, but also of their families and the community.”

For the family, it is a dream come true. Dana and her three children Zion, Storm and Lucion will live in the Habitat for Humanity house. They watched in awe as the crane started lifting the house over the first fence. “It’s incredible that we will soon be moving in there,” Dana said. “The kids have already picked their rooms.”

Dana says the prisoners who built the house will never know how much they have changed her family’s life. For that she will be forever grateful to them.

Assistant Prison Director, Simon Tanner, said the prisoners who built the house were stoked that they could help a family in need.

“The guys are also grateful for the skills they have learned that could lead to employment upon the offenders’ release. The prisoners’ contribution to this project have not only changed a struggling family’s future for the better, but also theirs.”