Two of the three prisoners who escaped with Graeme Burton from Paremoremo prison in 1998 are back in the community.
One - a convicted murderer - was paroled in October despite being described "as a moderate to high risk of reoffending".
The 1998 escape triggered a manhunt in Auckland and around the Coromandel Peninsula town of Tairua.
The escape was organised using prison telephones. Masks, camouflage clothing and a bulletproof vest, smuggled into the prison, were used and equipment, including firearms was waiting for them outside prison.
Burton escaped with Arthur William Taylor, a career criminal whose convictions include armed robbery, drug offences and three for escaping; Darren John Crowley, jailed for the murder of Daniel Fleming in Levin on New Year's Day 1992, and armed robber Matthew Solomon Thompson.
Thompson was jailed for 11 years in 1995 and released in June 2005 having reached his automatic release date.
Taylor had also reached his final release date when freed in 2001.
Then aged 45, he vowed to stay out of trouble. "That's it for me, I've had enough. All the boys know that ... Of course, it's the police I'm having trouble convincing," Taylor said then.
He was back in jail in December 2004 charged with drug and firearms offences and possessing explosives. He escaped in 2005 but was captured and found guilty of all charges last July.
Crowley, who was 20 when he fatally knifed Mr Fleming, was paroled on October 2. A condition of parole was that he not communicate or associate with Burton or Taylor.
In its decision to grant Crowley parole, the board noted the prison report described his change in attitude as "exceptional", the probation report was "very positive" and since attending a violence prevention programme Crowley had "extended his insight into the causes of his offending".
The parents of Crowley's victim had opposed parole and the board noted that many of the usual steps leading to parole, such as day paroles, were available only to minimum security inmates and therefore not to Crowley whose security rating was higher due to the 1998 escape.
"Although he is described as a moderate to high risk of reoffending we are satisfied that with the plan in position any risk can be minimised to the extent that he no longer be classified as an undue risk."
* Police are hunting for a woman who they say helped murder-accused Graeme Burton elude detectives.
They say Colleen Francis Malloy, 36, "actively assisted Burton evade the police" from an alleged home invasion last Wednesday until he was shot by police and taken into custody.
Malloy's house was one of four raided on Saturday as Burton moved into the eastern hills of Lower Hutt.
She has since fled from her home in Taita, near Wellington.