9 Nov 2016

Iwi upset at Corrections' ban on gang member volunteering at prison

11:43 am on 9 November 2016

The Taranaki iwi whose kaumatua has been banned from visiting Whanganui Prison because of his gang connections are looking at taking legal action against the decision.

Ngapari Nui

Ngapari Nui Photo: RNZ

The Department of Corrections yesterday confirmed it had revoked the prison access of two people because of their gang associations.

One is Ngapari Nui, a patched Black Power member who was stood down from volunteering at Whanganui Prison in July.

Mr Nui had been helping out at the facility for five years without a reported problem, but Corrections Minister Judith Collins said at the time that was innapropriate.

The kaiarataki for Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, said Mr Nui was gutted by the decision to stop him helping.

"He and the kaumatua expressed their disappointment at the decision," she said.

She said Mr Nui was told of the decision on Friday, but no one from the Department of Corrections had contacted the iwi to tell them, and they had learned of the review's outcome through the media yesterday.

"They haven't gone out and spoken to any of the community, they haven't spoken to us as iwi.

"Even though it was an iwi appointment they haven't officially told us."

Ms Ngarewa-Packer said it showed a disregard for the iwi and they would be seeking legal advice.

Mr Nui said he would not be forced to give up his assocations.

He said he considered cutting his ties with the gang so he could continue his prison work, but decided against it.

His gang association now was as kaumatua and spokesman, he said, and his role was moving gang members and whanau in positive directions.

"I see more positives being where I am now in making those lifestyle changes for our members."