Housing New Zealand and the Department of Corrections are partners in a scheme where prisoners gain new skills and confidence by building and restoring damaged state houses at the Rolleston Prison construction yard.
The Rolleston Construction Yard project, dubbed the Second Chance programme, is a partnership between Housing New Zealand and Corrections which provides community and prison offenders with qualifications and skills for employment, rejuvenates social housing stock and enables offenders to contribute to the rebuilding of Canterbury.
Once completed at the yard, the houses are transported to sites across the city and re-let to tenants.
The houses have been re-clad, rewired and re-plumbed and had their walls and ceilings insulated with under-floor insulation to be installed on-site. The houses have new bathrooms, toilets and hot water closets, refurbished and modernised kitchens and new floor coverings. They have new interior plaster, have been painted inside and out, and the roofs have been water blasted and repainted.
The Second Chance project came about in 2013 when Housing New Zealand was reviewing the future of houses from Christchurch’s Red Zone, and Canterbury Corrections was looking for a project where prisoners could contribute meaningfully to the rebuild of the city and the community.
The project involved 2 new construction yards being built at Rolleston Prison, south of Christchurch, houses being moved onto the site, repairs and refurbishment being undertaken and the houses then relocated onto new sites in the city and re-tenanted.
Approximately 140 tenants and their families now live in a house restored through the programme.
Corrections estimates hundreds of prisoners have worked on the programme. Through the yard, they have learnt, and continue to learn, employable trade skills, including painting, plastering, carpentry, and timber joinery.
Research shows there is a strong correlation between employment and leading a crime free life.