A group of inmates at Whanganui Prison has recorded a CD of original music, thanks to the help of a Catholic nun.
Nine prisoners, using the name Urban Migration, have recorded Songs Down Pauri Road 2012, a collection of 16 songs they wrote and recorded in the prison. The title of the CD comes from the prison's location on Pauri Rd, Kaitoke.
Whanganui Prison acting manager Jan Smith said the prisoners attended a music programme of four music sessions a week, under the guidance of the prison's Catholic chaplain, Sister Litia.
She said while assisting the men spiritually, Sister Litia recognised they had musical talent and thought that talent could be used to address their behaviour.
With the aid of Sister Litia and a church volunteer, John Scudder, the men wrote and recorded songs about their families and their dreams for the future.
The men play all the instruments on the CD, and one of the prisoners designed the CD artwork. Ms Smith said music could be an important part of prisoners' rehabilitation.
"Music can bring self-reflection, which for some prisoners is the beginning of a process to change their behaviour. The prisoners in the group have used music as a way of expressing themselves, and to share their experiences.
"While this can be confronting for them, it is an important part of their rehabilitation," she said.
Mr Scudder said he had worked with the men on the musical arrangements and his recording equipment had been used to record the CD.
"It's not state of the art equipment, and we recorded the songs in one go, so the CD has a certain raw edge to it."
He said the songs spanned a range of musical genres, from rock to blues to reggae.
Mr Scudder said he believed the prisoners had learned about more than music from the process of recording the CD.
"The men have had to learn how to commit to something, how to co-operate and work as a team. I think for some of them the experience has probably been life-changing," Mr Scudder said.
Limited copies of the CD are available for the public to buy. The cost is $15. All proceeds will go to the Child Cancer Foundation. Phone Whanganui Prison on  349 6800, Monday to Friday between 9am-4pm.