About 25 per cent of prisoners have been refused leave for tangi or a funeral in the past five years.
Inmates can be allowed out and escorted by prison staff, or be temporarily released in to the community.
Figures released to Te Manu Korihi show 958 prisoners were released to attend a funeral of a whanau member or close friend.
It also shows 293 applications were declined to attend a funeral or tangi, about a quarter of all requests.
If an inmate is not able to go to a service, a special religious service, where either the body is taken to the prison or a ceremony takes place, is held.
The Department of Corrections said public safety was its foremost consideration when approving whether a prisoner can be granted leave to pay their respects and it considers their security classification, release and parole eligibility and behaviour.
It says guidelines do not differ depending on whether it's a tangihanga, and instead it takes tikanga into account on a case by case basis.