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No Consultation for Mäori private prison partners

Not even a phone call to Mäori partners of privately managed prison

"The Government may have spent $1.3 million consulting with iwi over the Meremere prison (now known as Springhill), but it spent no time or money consulting with the Mäori partners of the privately managed Auckland Central Remand Prison," Te Warena Taua, Chairperson of Iwi Whanui O Tamaki Makaurau, said today.

Iwi Whanui is the Board representing six Northern iwi in a formal partnership with ACRP - New Zealand's only privately managed prison.

"In light of this massive spending on consultation in the Waikato and South Auckland, the people I represent are disgusted that we weren't even given a phone call to ask our views on plans to remove the current management of ACRP," said Mr Taua.

"The Department of Corrections constantly tell the public and the Minister they established the Iwi Advisory Group and yet they still have not bothered to consult with us over the management contract or the Corrections Bill.

"My board feels that given the amount of money spent on consultation with Maori over the building and opening of other prisons, that they would at least discuss with us the decision to take away the management contract of a prison that is recognised for doing a good job," he said.

Iwi Whanui were involved in selection of ACRP's current management and the prison's General Manager, and the group has regular input into the running of the prison and its programmes.

"The local Mäori community have been genuine partners in this prison and our input has been welcome and integral to its success," said Taua.

"Yet we have had no contact either from the Department of Corrections or the Government over plans to hand the prison management over to the public prison service," he said.

"The Board of Iwi Whanui view the taking away of ACRP's current management contract without any consultation as an insult to Mäori who have invested so much time and energy into creating a new style of prison."

Mr Taua said Iwi Whanui viewed the explanation from Corrections Minister Paul Swain in Parliament that there was no consultation because Labour Party policy opposed private management as weak.

"If Government, or the Green Party, had come and talked to us before blindly charging ahead on this ideological crusade they would have a much better understanding of why we are so upset at these plans.

"What has happened at ACRP represents the biggest steps forward in terms of prison management and reform that we have ever seen. If Government had taken the time to talk to the Board they might have worked this out for themselves," said Mr Taua.

Mr Taua said the Department of Corrections could learn a lot from what had happened at ACRP.

"Instead, the Government look set to abandon the most successful prison this country has ever seen, without even the courtesy of speaking to the local Mäori who have helped make this prison what it currently is.

"This failure to consult was an insult to start with but, in light of what has happened in Waikato, it is a disgrace," said Taua.

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