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Gang volunteers not welcome in prisons

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/07/2016

The Salvation Army says it's disappointing a gang member has been let go from his job in a prison where he was making a positive contribution.

Black Power member Ngapari Nui was voluntarily working in Whanganui Prison teaching wellness and wellbeing to Maori inmates.

The Ngati Ruanui member had been volunteering in prisons for five years, and the iwi said he had never hidden who he was, Fairfax media reported.

However Corrections Minister Judith Collins ordered a review of Corrections volunteers after his position at the prison was brought to her attention, and Mr Nui was stood down.

She said she would not be "using favour" in his situation.

"The same rules should apply to Black Power, the Mongrel Mob, the Road Knights, Hell's Angels, Head Hunters ... patched gang membership is not to be encouraged in our prisons."

She says she understood Corrections did not know Mr Nui was an active patched gang member.

Salvation Army spokesman Ian Hutson said Mr Nui's past and relationships with people in the wider gang whanau made him an ideal person to encourage positive change in others.

It was disappointing his work in the prison was terminated "apparently for no other reason than his affiliation to Black Power", he said.

He called on Ms Collins to reconsider her decision to reject Mr Nui's involvement with prisoners.

Green Party MP David Clendon told Radio New Zealand gang members should be able to volunteer in prisons.

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