Gang member allegedly working in prison teaching 'wellness' to Maori inmates

There are allegations tonight that gang members are working behind bars, signed off by the Corrections department.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins is demanding answers and she's ordered a full-scale review. Source: 1 NEWS

It's prompted a full scale review of our prison system, with Corrections Minister Judith Collins demanding answers.

Ngapari Nui has been volunteering at Whanganui Prison for five years as a 'kaiwhakamana', by which he's allowed in the prison to teach wellness and well-being to Maori inmates.

Now he's been stood down, accused of working for Black Power.

"We have a fully patched gang affiliated member working within prisons," the Sensible Sentencing Trust's Scott Guthrie says.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust complained to the Corrections department about Ngapari Nui last week but it was only after ONE News raised questions that the minister in charge was notified.

"I spoke very firmly with the chief executive on Thursday when this matter was raised with me and he is undertaking a review of other prisons as well," Ms Collins said.

We were told by a Black Power spokesperson today that Ngapari Nui did not want to comment and referred us back to Corrections.

In a statement, Corrections says while they approved Mr Nui's role, that's now under review given the currency of his gang associations.

Dr Jarrod Gilbert is considered to be our leading gang expert and says a considered approach should be taken.

"If he's been in the prison for quite a long time let's have a look at the job he's doing, is he doing good work, cause if he is we should be judging on that perhaps more than his affiliations," Dr Gilbert says.

As recently as 2014 Ngapari Nui has been quoted as a Black Power spokesperson but he's also a Kaumatua for South Taranaki iwi Ngati Ranui.

"I have no tolerance when it comes to members of gangs being involved in prisons," Ms Collins says.

Corrections is now probing if there are others working in our prisons with gang connections.