For the third year in a row inmates at the Arohata women's prison in Wellington have put on Christmas concerts to appreciative audiences.
Forty-five prisoners performed for two nights last week in front of almost 300 guests at the prison, entertaining them and also fundraising for the local women's refuges.
The audience inside the packed gymnasium at Arohata Prison were treated to performaces of kapa haka, spoken word and song.
Prisoners, prison staff and some performers from the wider community took to the stage.
One prisoner says it was a huge challenge - and achievement.
"Before I came to prison, change scared me more than death. I'd resided myself to the fact that I would die a drug addict and I was OK with that and that's so scary.
"I never want to go back to that and I found myself again."
She was part of a group that performed their own poems.
One inmate sang in the concert - something she has never had the confidence to do before.
"It's actually a huge thing to be able to get up in front of 350 people and perform, so just stepping out of our comfort zones and feeling good."
These women credit the drug treatment programme at Arohata - the only such programme for female inmates in New Zealand - with their new found confidence.
The clinical manager of the programme, Anita Grafton, says creating the show is not just about the two public performances.
"I think it's really important to look at creative, innovative ways of approaching rehabilitation. And I think creative writing as well as other creative approaches accesses areas that traditional talking therapies don't."
One of the main groups that helps the prison put on the concerts is the women's service organisation, Zonta.
Barbara Thompson from the Mana club, says seeing the women's confidence grow is the most satisfying aspect of Zonta's invovlement.
"You see them at the beginning and they are learning, selecting the songs - the songs are very deep and meaningful for them, which raises a lot of issues along the way that they've got to deal with in their rehab - it's very big.
"And then of course they bring it out on the first night and their shoulders are back a little bit, but they're looking out - and on the second night those shoulders are right back. They own that stage."
The prison's director, Chris Burns, has no doubt about the usefulness of the concerts in helping rehabilitate the prisoners.
"It's that old story that there will come a day where these women will leave this establishment and go back out into the community so it's really, really important to us that we do what we can with them in the time that we have them to ensure they go out to the community better people than when they arrived with us."
The concert raised just over $2,000 for the two Women's Refuge houses in Porirua and $2,500 for the work Zonta does.