Labour's Māori Caucus must oppose the proposed Waikeria mega-prison. That's the challenge issued by a Māori legal advocate, Julia Whaipooti.

The lawyer recently made a presentation to the United Nations about New Zealand’s prisons and says the government needs to look for alternative ways to just simply locking people up.   

She's told the world prisons in NZ are traps teeming with Māori. She challenges Labour's Māori caucus to oppose new prisons.

“I put a lot of responsibility on our current government because they're in the power positions to make decisions. And just really encourage our Māori caucus to take the stand, they have the numbers within the government to say this isn't ok.”

According to Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare, the Māori Caucus is currently in discussions over this.

“Kua roa rawa mātou e wānanga ana i te kaupapa, heoi anō ka riro te mana whakahaere ki tōku tuakana ki a Kelvin. Engari kāore e kore ka rongo ia ki te hiahia o ngā iwi Māori me te hunga i tukuna atu mātou ki te whare pāremata.”

Whaipooti says there are other options to rehabilitate.

“Don't build the prison - build some bail houses. One-third of our prison population now is remanded in custody in prisons because they don't have appropriate housing. Let's build houses - that's going to be faster than building a prison.”

It seems the government is already considering that path as there's no chance of survival in an 'eel-trap' that prisons are refered to as colloquially in te reo.

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