Prisoners in New Zealand construct 3-bed house for family to gain qualifications
Last week, the Constantino family stood in a ‘sterile zone’ at Ngawha Prison in New Zealand and watched as their brand new home was craned over the wire fence. This affordable home is part of a scheme by Habitat for Humanity, Corrections and NorthTec whereby prisoners within Ngawha Prison can gain qualifications by constructing properties for families in need.
Construction on the three-bedroom home began in May within the prison walls and by the beginning of December the Constantino family received their building shell. The house was then relocated to Mali Street in Dargaville where the family will complete the interiors and landscaping themselves, cutting costs even further. The house has been named ‘Te Whare Tuku Aroha’ which translates as ‘House Gift of Love’.
Speaking to Peter de Graaf of the New Zealand Herald, one of the prisoners involved in the build said: “Being able to give to this family and the community is a good thing for us. A lot of the boys are pretty proud of themselves. We’ve made some poor decisions but at the end of the day we’re still people. We’re trying to upskill ourselves and show we can actually do something. We can still contribute to the community.”
At the crux of the project is the ability for prisoners to develop new skills that may help them gain work after they have served their sentences. Ngawha Prison is in the process of becoming a working prison, providing its inmates with a structured week and opportunities to hone their skills.
During the process of constructing this three-bedroom house for the Constantino family, two prisoners completed a Level 4 Building and Construction qualification and 19 prisoners gained a Level 2 qualification. Talks are currently underway to embark upon a similar project in 2014 so that these 19 prisoners can also achieve their Level 4 qualification.