Work is getting underway on a new multi-million-dollar maximum security facility in Auckland to house some of the country's most dangerous criminals.
Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-liga has turned the first sod at the site at Auckland Prison, where the $300 million facility will be built.
It will hold 260 prisoners from the northern region, including those with serious mental health problems.
Mr Lotu-liga said the facility would provide a safer environment for staff, visitors and prisoners.
"You'll have better views of the cell units, we'll have health units closer to where the prisoners reside," he said. "But generally the form and the shape of the prison will be a lot safer."
Mr Lotu-liga said the facility, which was expected to be operating by mid-2018, will save the taxpayer about $175 million in the next 25 years.