Dame Tariana Turia has hit out at the decision by the Department of Corrections to stand down a volunteer with alleged gang connections. 58-year old Ngapari Nui had worked as a kaiwhakamana supporting Māori in prisons.
Turia has called the Justice Minister Judith Collins ignorant over the standing down of Ngapari Nui.
“There are some people and Judith is one of them, who choose to be ignorant, who choose to be disrespectful of anything Māori.”
Collins did herself no favours when asked about Nui's role as kaiwhakamana.
“I'm not going to go down that track,” said Collins, “Dame Tariana is perfectly entitled to her opinion, but I'm the Minister of Justice and my view is very clear we have to be aware of active gang membership in prisons and I fully support Corrections in their review.”
Nui had worked with Māori in prisons to get them back on track for the past decade.
The Minister of Māori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell says, “There a lot of gangs out there and it's not like we have a picture on the wall of them. The issue is that there have been gains made. He knows what it is like being in a gang and has been volunteering his time and money.”
Corrections officials visited Nui and around 200 of his supporters today in Hawera. Organiser Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says they're calling for heads to roll.
“Demanding the immediate resignation of Ray Smith who is the CEO of the department of Corrections following the actions of him removing Ngapari and acknowledging he was the one that signed Ngapari off.”
Ngarewa-Packer says they plan to challenge the Minister over the decision. Only time will tell what the future may bring for Nui.