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Review of Ngawha decision?

19 September 2002

Kia ora,

according to an article in today's Dominion Post, March Gosche (Minister of Corrections) has been reviewing the outrageous decision to build a prison on waahi tapu at Ngawha. However, it appears that the prison construction may still be going ahead. Below are the Dominion Post article and a press release from Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos.

For more information about the prison construction, check out Updated: Act now for Ngawha!

Prison review looks set to backfire

19 September 2002

Government dithering over whether to proceed with the controversial Northland prison looks set to backfire, causing it further trouble.

Its antics have sparked criticism from within its own ranks, from former corrections minister Progressive Coalition MP Matt Robson.

The last Government approved plans to construct the 350-bed prison at Ngawha, near Kaikohe, despite heated opposition from local iwi and residents.

But it has emerged that new Corrections Minister Mark Gosche told the groups he was prepared to review the decision when he was appointed.

Both Mr Gosche and Prime Minister Helen Clark have been heavily lobbied by opponents, who are supported by former associate corrections minister Tariana Turia. On Tuesday night, Mr Gosche met New Zealand Maori Council president Sir Graham Latimer and one of the protest leaders, Titewhai Harawira, and has also promised to meet concerned groups in Kaikohe next week.

However it appears he has raised the opponents' hopes in vain and is set to face a backlash.

Mr Gosche confirmed yesterday that while he had been reviewing the decision, the Government was once again set to give the prison the green light and planned to call for tenders for its construction next week.

The Government had already committed $21 million to the project, and would need a particularly strong reason to pull the plug on it now, he said.

But Mrs Harawira said it would be a huge breach of good faith for the Government to call for tenders while it was meeting people to canvass their views as part of a review.

If the tenders went out the whole thing would blow up in the Government's face, she said.

Mr Robson said the Government was responding to extensive lobbying but its 'lack of decisiveness' was a bad look and had put the community through unnecessary stress.

Northland MP John Carter said the procrastination was upsetting the community and had been pointless.

There was no way 'politically' the Government could have backed down on the decision because it had spent too much money already.

But Mr Gosche said new prisons were a particularly sensitive issue and "so many people have asked me to have another look at it I felt duty-bound".

Ruth Berry
The Domion Post
© Independent Newspapers Limited 2002

Ngawha prison deserves to be revisited

19 September 2002

Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today welcomed the decision by new Corrections Minister Mark Gosche to review the controversial proposed new prison at Ngawha, saying that Mr Gosche had a difficult task to clean up the mess left by the previous Minister.

"The whole thing was handled badly by the Department and by (ex-Minister) Matt Robson. It makes total sense to revisit the decision," said Nandor.

Nandor said comments from Matt Robson that taking another look showed 'lack of decisiveness' and had put the community through unnecessary stress were ridiculous.

"Under his leadership the department used the threat of the Public Works Act to bully landowners, and tried to bankrupt the opposition to the prison. If Mr Robson hadn't been so belligerent we wouldn't be in this mess.

"There have been dodgy decisions made all through the process, and it is only right to have another look at them. The only shame is that due to Matt Robson's intransigence it has gone so far and will now be more difficult to turn back."

But Nandor said it was not too late to shelve the Ngawha prison and for the Corrections Department to work with the Northland community to find a more suitable site.

Nandor Tanczos,
Green Party Justice Spokesperson
Media Release

No prison for Ngawha


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