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Greens challenged to support Mäori on prison vote

Greens challenged to support Mäori over prison vote

A board representing six Northern iwi is challenging the Greens to back them in supporting the current management of Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) and the involvement of Mäori in the prison system.

Iwi Whanui O Tamaki Makaurau represents six iwi in a partnership with the privately managed ACRP. Iwi Whanui Chair, Te Warena Taua, said the Green vote on the Government’s Corrections Bill would be critical in determining the level of participation Mäori have with the prison system, and the future direction of corrections in this country.

“ACRP has seen the first genuine partnership between local Mäori and prison management in this country. For all inmates, ACRP is universally regarded as far and away the most successful, innovative and culturally progressive prison we have ever seen,” said Mr Taua.

“My Board was involved in selecting the current management provider from a range of tenders, including from the public prison service, and the result was that the best provider was awarded the contract.”

Mr Taua said Maori had asked the Greens for support in retaining the right for Maori be involved in the selection of prison management, but it appeared the Greens were doing a deal with the Government and turning their back on the party’s policy commitments to Mäori.

“Nandor Tanczos knows our prisons and the Department of Corrections are failing terribly. Unfortunately it appears he is being rolled by Corrections Minister Paul Swain and will waste this rare opportunity to significantly reform the prison system,” he said.

“Nandor has visited ACRP and he knows that ACRP has been a revolution in terms of the operation of our prisons - particularly in how it responds to the needs of Mäori, deals with drugs and addresses the various issues behind an inmate’s offending.

“I have met with Nandor and have been heartened by his support for ACRP, especially in relation to how this prison benefits inmates. Had he turned up to the Committee hearings, he would have heard for himself the strength of Mäori opposition to this Bill,” he said.

“In light of the current political climate, and with the failings of our prisons being highlighted on a daily basis, now is the time for the Greens to use their votes for reform of the prison system and to back up their policy in relation to Mäori with action.”

Mr Taua said the Greens were faced with a choice to either pursue a flawed ideological position or to vote to improve the prison system and the lives of inmates and their families.

“Refusing to renew the contract for the only prison that has challenged our State-managed prisons is a recipe for more of what is characterising the public prison service – and that is a recipe for disaster,” said Mr Taua.

“On behalf of the people in our prisons, we again ask the Greens to support us on this critical Bill. Doing a deal to support the Government on this Bill will be wasting the biggest opportunity we have ever had to finally start reforming our failing prison system.”

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