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Ngawha Prison Decision Disappointing - Nandor

9 April 2002

Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today said he was very disappointed at the Environment Court decision to approve the building of a prison at Ngawha in Auckland.

"While I am sympathetic to the idea of a purpose-built prison in Northland run along the principles of Maori tikanga, it would be hard to find a more controversial site on which to build one.

"In the initial evaluation list of potential sites for this prison Ngawha was well down the list. There is no reason at all why the Department of Corrections could not have found a site with less opposition," he said.

Nandor said there was potential for development in Ngawha based around the healing properties of the unique springs in the area, but that having a prison situated close to them would now make that difficult.

"That aside the site is a very poor choice due to the geology and geothermal activity in the area."

Nandor said he welcomed comments from the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson that the Ngawha prison would bring the closure of Mount Eden a step closer and he looked forward to hearing a date for that closure.

"I also acknowledge the willingness of Ngapuhi to become involved with prisoner rehabilitation. In this respect I think that a number of smaller, habilitation centres in Northland would have been more useful than a new prison in the area," he said.

"The process of deciding to build a prison at Ngawha has been flawed from the start and the eventual outcome has been a polarised community and a poor site for a prison.

"On a broader level the Greens are disappointed that yet another prison is being built in New Zealand. Instead of locking more and more people up we need to explore better ways of getting justice for victims and rehabilitation for offenders."

Ends

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