More fires broke out overnight at the Waikeria Prison and Correctional Facility said the situation at the facility remained “very unstable”.
Incident supervisor Jeanette Burns said there was tension in the group of 16 inmates in the “upper prison” who had access to weapons and may have used drugs from pharmacies.
“I appreciate that this event is very sad for the family and friends of the inmates involved,” said Burns.
“We have no information to suggest that any of them were injured.”
They kept urging the men to give up, she said.
“We don’t want men, our staff or other emergency services staff to be harmed.”
Burns said anyone who did not ask the people to give up peacefully immediately jeopardized the safety of prisoners, staff and emergency services.
The prisoners continued to light a fire inside the facility overnight, threatening staff and police and throwing debris at them from the roof of the building, he said.
“We are concerned about the integrity of the burning building structure and the potential for collapse, as well as the toxicity of the burning building materials,” he said.
“Along with this we know that there is tension between group members, they have access to weapons and they may have used drugs from pharmacies.”
The situation remains “very unstable” and options for intervention are limited because of the dangers.
“Nonetheless, we continue to work closely with the police to ensure that every opportunity to resolve incidents with the aim of minimizing harm to anyone is considered and acted upon.
“We have an obligation to look after these people, and they will most likely remain in our custody for the next few years.
“Their point has been made. We are building a new facility to replace the existing top prison facility, which will be completed in 2022.”
The group avoided arrest on the roof of the prison after riots involving starting a fire ravaged the prison grounds on Tuesday afternoon.
The previous correction said, while the damage to the upper prison needed to be assessed, it was unlikely that prisoners would be accommodated there anymore.
Whereas family members who were desperate on the outside had urged them to give up but warn their loved ones to be “willing to die” if their basic needs are not met.
A relative told RNZ today that their cousin who is protesting doesn’t care whether he is alive or dead, because he is defending his rights.
“He’s restless, he’s hungry, he’s thirsty … but he said he’ll survive … at least he knows he’s defending his rights and the rights of others who will be held in this prison.”
The woman told RNZ that her cousin was only detained for not paying the fine and having a 6 month old baby at home.
Inmate pay phones, and all other phones in the prison, are currently out of service.
Correction said it appreciates this will be worrying and inconvenient for the inmates and their family and friends and is working to resolve it quickly.
It is said to provide assurance that all inmates in other units are safe and sound in the prison.