The Ngawha Prison Build in 2016

Nov 24, 2023

In a first for New Zealand, a three-bedroom home was completed in June 2016 built entirely within the walls of Ngawha Prison, in the Bay of Islands. The home was built by incarcerated men to gain valuable skills and qualifications. Once completed, the house was lifted over the prison’s high walls using a 100-tonne crane to then become a home for a Northland family.  

The three-way project between The Department of Corrections, Habitat for Humanity and NorthTec provided a family with a home they can afford while also contributing to the men’s rehabilitation and successful reintegration into society. 

One of the men involved said he spent five months helping assemble the house from the floorboards up and as a result had gained level 2 in the National Certificate of Building, Construction and Allied Trades and a NorthTec Certificate in Elementary Construction. 

 “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,” said one of the men who worked on the home. 

Originally from the Philippines, John, Alma, and their three children had lived in Northland for seven years and expressed gratitude for being able to start their home ownership journey with Habitat.  They were so excited about moving into their own home they completed the interior work themselves. 

Habitat Northern spoke to the family in 2020 who shared that they feel a sense of accomplishment and relief that they were able to complete the journey to home ownership with Habitat. A family spokesperson said, “The journey with Habitat has made me and my family stronger. The future is boundless for us here in New Zealand. With hard work, determination and prayers we have achieved our goals.”



The three-bedroom home being lifted over the prison walls by a crane.