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Statement from the NZ Maori Council – Waikeria Prison “Council stands by to intervene”

Statement from the NZ Maori Council – Waikeria Prison “Council stands by to intervene”

The Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council, Matthew Tukaki, has called for calm amid rising tensions at Waikeria Prison in the central North Island. Tukaki has also asked for politicians to step back and allow mana whenua to work with Corrections, the prisoners and whanau to resolve the situation and resolve it quickly. Tukaki also didn’t rule out the New Zealand Maori Council playing a role in bringing the situation to a conclusion:

“The matters being dealt with are complex and for the interests of safety for all of those involved we must bring the situation to an end and in a timely manner. The health and safety risks to the workers and prisoners need to be dealt with as do the broader concerns of all involved. The reality is that the prison has probably reached its use by date and it is timely to have a discussion about its future – but that can only happen on the backdrop of a swift resolution to the current standoff.” Tukaki said

“What we do not need are politicians turning up to the gates and grandstanding to illicit a response that in itself would be political in nature. It neither helps nor resolves what is happening. I have spoken to mana whenua representatives in our Maniapoto District of the Maori Council as well as our Chair of our National Taskforce of Justice, Law and Corrections. While I am not wanting to intervene under our own Act of Parliament, the Maori Community Development Act (1962) Section 18, one thing that we are open to is meeting with those involved, both Corrections and the Prisoners, to bring the matters to a quick end – that includes mobilising Maori Wardens alongside the Council to assist and support in the de-escalation” Tukaki said

“But I say this – can politicians please refrain from turning up to the front gate – it does nothing to help resolve the current situation. If we are to achieve long term reform of our justice, law and corrections systems then we need to be doing it together not by pot shotting across the aisles. We should be concerned with all involved – the workers, whanau, the incarcerated and the victims of crimes perpetuated against them – and the voiceless. There will be hard conversations to be had but first lets get the fires out, the prisoners and workers safely managed and a plan put in place to where to from here.” Tukaki said

Representatives from the New Zealand Maori Council who would meet with those involved include Chair, Henare Mason, Chair of the National Taskforce for Justice, Law and Corrections, Roimata Minhinnick, Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki and Chairman of the Maniapoto District, Kaawhia Te Muraahi.

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