'Where's Kelvin'? - National MPs denied entry to Waikeria Prison as standoff enters fifth day

Source: 1News

Two National Party MPs are writing to the Minister of Corrections after being turned away from Waikeria Prison when they tried to speak to staff about an ongoing protest at the facility.

By law, MPs would typically have open access to prisons.

However today, National Corrections spokesperson Simeon Brown and Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger say they were told they must have express permission from Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis for a visit due to the emergency situation.

Davis has declined to comment on the situation so far and a spokesperson told 1 NEWS he won't comment until the situation is resolved.

Brown and Kruiger say they've now written to Davis for permission to visit the prison, but they also want the MP to come to the prison himself.

"Where's Kelvin? Where is he? He should be here and he should be at least supporting his staff as they respond to this," Brown told 1 NEWS today.

"This is the fifth day running for this violent riot. He should be down here to show his support to staff and ensure that the people responding to this significant event have all of the support they need to be able to bring a swift end to this violent riot."

His call for Davis to come forward is echoed by National leader Judith Collins.

"Let’s be clear. Mass destruction of taxpayer-funded property, assaulting Corrections staff and hoarding weapons is not a 'peaceful protest'," she said today in a statement.

"Kelvin Davis needs to front up and explain how this loss of control happened and what he’s going to do to fix it. He was perfectly happy to crow about prisons in opposition but now that he’s in charge, he’s nowhere to be seen.

"My thoughts are with all the Corrections staff having to deal with this situation at Waikeria Prison."

It follows a number of risks concerning Corrections staff, including the structural integrity of the fire-damaged buildings.

The standoff involving 16 inmates in protest of poor conditions at the prison is now in its fifth day.

Corrections incident controller Jeanette Burns said police were supporting Corrections in the negotiation process.

“There are multiple risks involved, including the structural integrity of the fire-damaged buildings, the weapons and equipment available to the prisoners, the toxicity of burnt building materials, and the violence being offered by the prisoners,” she said.

“Negotiations with the group are ongoing, and specialist Corrections staff are being closely supported by police with this.”

Corrections are continuing to urge the men to surrender, saying they would then be provided with food and water, despite more than 1000 people signing a petition urging authorities to provide the 16 men with food and drink.

“We do not want the men, our staff or other emergency services staff to be hurt,” Burns said.

“As prisoners surrender they will be secured, searched, provided with food and water, assessed by medical staff and will have access to kaumatua and other support.”

“We have a duty of care to these men, and it is likely that they will remain in our custody for a number of years to come. We remain grateful for the support we have received from local iwi and kaumatua.”