Six of the country's 17 prisons have exceeded their performance targets, eight are operating effectively and three need improvement, the Department of Corrections says.
It is the first time new prison performance tables have been released.
Each prison is given a performance grade of exceptional, exceeding, effective, or needs improvement. The ratings are determined by a series of steps.
No prison was listed in the exceptional category.
Invercargill, Manawatu, Tongariro/Rangipo, Wakeria and Whanganui prisons, and the Mount Eden Corrections facility were listed as exceeding their performance targets.
Hawke's Bay prison, Northland Region Corrections Facility and Otago Corrections Facility were listed as needing improvement.
The department's national commissioner Brendan Anstiss said measures are already in place to lift performance further.
Mr Anstiss said in the last quarter there had not been a single escape, walkaway or unnatural death.
``An escape, or unnatural death can be the difference between the categories, or an increase in assaults can also have this effect.''
He said the three prisons listed as needing improvement were working to reduce the number of assaults on staff and prisoners of both a serious and non-serious nature.
Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said prison performance tables have been introduced for the first time to enable greater transparency and accountability to taxpayers.
``All 17 prisons are now measured on their performance against each other in a range of areas including security, assaults, drug tests and rehabilitation programmes. They are then categorised in four performance grades, with the resulting tables released quarterly.
``I would expect some facilities will move to the exceptional category as time goes on, as we continue to focus on enhancing prison operations to help reach our target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017.''