Housing of ex-cons on prison grounds upsets Upper Hutt locals

A move to hold released prisoners who cannot find other accommodation in self-care units in the grounds of Rimutaka Prison has raised concern amongst parents at nearby schools.

Up to 11 former prisoners could be held in the prison's former training facility, which has been renamed Te Korowai, meaning a place where people are sheltered and cared for.

Earlier this week the Department of Corrections sent a fact sheet to 21 Upper Hutt schools and gave information to over 40 early childhood centres in the area about the move.

It acknowledges many of those who will pass through Te Korowai will have convictions for sexual offending against children.

Corrections operations director Matire Kupenga-Wanoa said finding suitable accommodation for child sex offenders who could no longer be legally detained in prison was one of its most significant challenges.

"Placing child sex offenders on prison land, outside the wire, is our final option for housing these offenders.

"The reality is that without accommodation, they would be homeless, which would present an unacceptable safety risk to communities."

Nearby schools include St Brendan's in Heretaunga and Hutt International Boys' School, a secondary college.

Parents outside St Brendan's School yesterday afternoon were very concerned about the plan.

Amongst their comments were that parents would have to be more vigilant about keeping an eye on children in the area, making sure they travel in groups and keep safe.

"I do have concerns they are close to two schools ... and can probably freely walk out of the prison and in 10 minutes they're at two schools."

Another said, "I understand people need to have a place to go. I'm not sure whether the way the information was distributed was the best way, leaving it up to the parents to read it and then contact them directly. I'd presumed there would be some community meetings about such a thing."

The Corrections Department said the men who would be housed in Te Korowai would be subject to strict conditions, which could include GPS monitoring, regular meetings with probation staff and restrictions on their living and working arrangements.

There will also be a ban on alcohol consumption, a restriction on who can visit the units and the men there will be supervised 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

However parents outside St Brendan's School yesterday afternoon had mixed views over Corrections' ability to keep the community safe.

"Going on past history there's definitely been some concerns about whether they can monitor them properly and I do have concerns about that," one parent said.

"I would hope so, but you see cases on the news where people have been offending and re-offending and I guess they don't always get it right," another said.

Corrections said there were currently only two offenders living at the Te Korowai facility.

It said a released prisoner's compliance with their conditions was closely managed by their probation officer and a range of enforcement sanctions were available.

That includes prosecution for breaching of conditions, which could result in further imprisonment.

- Anne Marie May 


Rimutaka Prison in Trentham, Upper Hutt. Source: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Cop breaks leg after being hit by police car during early morning Rotorua pursuit

A police officer suffered a broken leg after being struck by a police car at the conclusion of a police pursuit in Rotorua this morning.

The male officer was stepping out of his vehicle to arrest the driver after road spikes had successfully stopped the vehicle at the intersection of State Highway 29 and McLaren Falls.

A second police car struck the officer before going on to collide with a third police vehicle.

The officer was sent to hospital, with no other injuries in the incident. 

The pursuit had begun at about 2.40am when police had attempted to stop a speeding vehicle on Ngongotaha Road.

A 31-year-old man with two outstanding warrants was arrested and charged with driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, failing to stop and possession of a knife in a public place.

He is due to appear in Tauranga District Court today.

"Drivers who choose not to pull over for Police when instructed put themselves, other members of the public and our staff at risk,"Rotorua Area Commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi said.

"The message is clear, anyone who is signalled to stop by Police should pull over immediately."

A Serious Crash Unit investigation is underway.

Police car night generic
Police car (File picture). Source: 1 NEWS

Gerry Brownlee defends phone call to law firm in which he's accused of bullying junior solicitor

A law firm is accusing Gerry Brownlee of phone bullying after a 15 minute call he made to their offices, but the National MP says how can you bully a law firm?

A junior solicitor at Adina Thorn fielded the call from Mr Brownlee who was calling to note his concern about a letter from the firm warning Christchurch residents about dodgy steel mesh and inviting residents to join a class action.

Mr Brownlee rejects many of the claims the firm has made in a press release publicising the matter and told Morning Report he was not angry or ranting during the call.

"I was very keen to understand what the basis of the pleading was.

"This is a law firm, asking people to sign up with them, saying they're going to stand before the court and plead a case on their behalf for compensation for ... what?"

He said by signing up to the class action, people would effectively be identifying themselves as having a problem which could have a long term impact well beyond compensation they might get from a court.

"Was it for product failure, or potential product failure, or catastrophic failure in the event of an earthquake or was it because the Commerce Commission had fined steel companies for inappropriately labelling their products and that people might have bought it inappropriately?

"They are not unreasonable questions to answer."

Mr Brownlee said he thought he was speaking to Adina Thorn and did not identify himself in the phone call.

"They wrote to me as a householder so I spoke to them as a householder."

He said he assumed the call was recorded and welcomes the release of the taped call.

"That would demonstrate that there was certainly no ranting and no bullying.

"Had I identified myself right up front, would they have had different answers for me?"

He said the law firm has not contacted him since the phone call despite having concerns for its staff member.


The National MP for Ilam strongly denies what he calls “outrageous accusations”, saying he was just doing his job.
Gerry Brownlee. Source: 1 NEWS


British dance group Rudimental coming to New Zealand to headline festival

British chart topper Rudimental is headed to our shores for the first time in several years.

The drum and bass outfit, known for their collaboration with Ed Sheeran and other artists, will be among the headliners at Christchurch's Electric Avenue music festival in February, festival organisers announced today.

The festival is expected to attract a crowd of about 15,000 as the band performs a DJ set with live vocalists and instrumentalists.

"Bringing major international artists to Christchurch is a key factor in the Festival's future growth," said festival director Callam Mitchell.

"Christchurch has definitely missed out on being able to host big international artists a lot recently, so we try to fill that gap."

Rudimental first scored a hit in 2012 for their collaboration with singer John Newman on Feel the Love. In 2015 the band released Lay it All On Me, which featured Ed Sheeran.

Other headliners headed to Christchurch on 23 February for Electric Avenue include Netsky, Orbital and The Correspondents.

Early bird tickets for the festival go on sale at midday on Monday.

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: British dance act Rudimental perform at Lollapalooza Berlin on September 10, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.(Photo by Ant Palmer/Getty Images)
British dance act Rudimental perform at Lollapalooza Berlin in September 2017. Source: Getty

Major delays expected after crash on State Highway 1 in Waikato

A car and truck have crashed on State Highway at Tokoroa in Waikato today.

The crash happened at 9.55am today between East Parkdale Street and Main Road.

Policea are urging motorists to avoid the area and follow diversions with major delays expected.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS