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Maori leaders want gang member reinstated as prison volunteer


Maori leaders are calling for a gang member to be reinstated as a prison volunteer, but the Corrections Minister is standing firm in keeping him out.

Ngapari Nui sat down for the first time with Corrections to discuss why he was let go. Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds today turned out to support Black Power member Ngapari Nui as he sat down for the first time with the Corrections Department to discuss why he was let go as a prison volunteer at Whanganui Prison.

"They don't want to be having support and engagement with iwi in the solutions for our prisoners," said Debbie Ngarewa-Packer of Te Rununga Ngarewa Packer.

Mr Nui's iwi, Ngati Ruanui is standing by its decision to nominate him to work with Maori inmates.

The department gave him sign off five years ago, knowing he was with a gang, but today there was no apology or no explanation for the u-turn.

Respect the views of iwi when they make a decision which is after all in the interests of their people - Dame Tariana Turia, former associate Corrections minister

"We want to draw that bright line between people who are clearly outside of anti-social organisations and not being involved with criminal activities any more," said Jeremy Lightfoot, Corrections National Commissioner.

Corrections is now re-vetting its 2000-plus prison volunteers and Maori leaders are appalled.

"I don't think it's too much to ask other people to have respect for tikanga and to respect the views of iwi when they make a decision which is after all in the interests of their people," said Dame Tariana Turia, former associate Corrections minister.

John Maihi, a tribal leader, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and cultural adviser to Corrections is also unhappy.

"The processes and protocols that are agreed with by ourselves in those arenas are not being recognised in the higher arena," he said.

Mr Nui's iwi, Ngati Ruanui, wants heads to roll, saying Correction's boss Ray Smith is out of touch with grassroots rehabilitation.

But Corrections Minister Judith Collins is standing firm, saying: "I think what's really concerning to me is the increase in gang membership in our prisons."

Ms Ngarewa-Packer of the iwi said: "I'm sorry, that's a cop out."