Minister Woods with Rolleston Assistant Prison Director Grant Boore (left) and Daran Buckland, Project Manager Kainga Oraphoto Kainga Ora

Minister visits prison

by Mike Isle

Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods has visited Rolleston Prison to inspect houses being built by inmates.

More than 80 homes have either been refurbished or built from scratch by men working in trade training at Rolleston Prison. The prison began contributing to the need for more houses by repairing those damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes. Homes were transported to Rolleston Prison, where they would be repaired and eventually returned to Christchurch sites for families needing housing.

The programme, which is a partnership between the Department of Corrections and Kainga Ora — Homes and Communities (formerly the Housing Corporation of NZ), is contributing to solving the housing shortage while providing skills and employment opportunities for prisoners. About 75 men currently work on the homes, guided by qualified contractors. Each new home takes between 16 and 24 weeks to build on-site before it is ready to be transported to its permanent location.

The programme is regarded as a “win-win’’ with men at the prison getting access to industry-standard training where they can learn trade skills, earn trade qualifications and improve their chances of gaining work in the construction sector upon their release.

It is regarded as an important factor in reducing reoffending rates. Kainga Ora benefits by getting more new homes into its Christchurch portfolio, which allows it to help house even more people in need. At least five of the prisoners who gained experience on the programme have gone on to gain apprenticeships upon their release. An example of the employment success of the project is Ben* who is now working in Nelson after he was released on parole. He completed three theory books while at Rolleston Prison and gained a wealth of practical experience. *Not his real name.