Sixteen inmates who had been locked in a stand-off with authorities and camped on the roof of a New Zealand prison for almost a week have surrendered.
Rawiri Waititi, a member of the NZ Parliament and co-leader of the Maori Party, said he escorted the 16 men out of Waikeria Prison, south of Auckland, about midday on Sunday.
“They were ready to come down. Naturally, they were tired and hungry but still very determined to see change,” Waititi said in a statement.
“They have achieved what they set out to do when they embarked on bringing attention to their maltreatment in prison.”
I’m at Waikeria Prison. The men have surrendered. We’re hoping this will be the start of a movement to address the inhumane conditions in our prisons. pic.twitter.com/unUruDt7U8
— Mark Cyst (@CentralCommiTi) January 3, 2021
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis was cited by the NZ Herald as confirming the siege was over.
He said the group destroyed the prison’s “top jail”, rendering it unusable.
The incident started on December 29, when emergency services were deployed to the prison, one of New Zealand’s largest, after some prisoners “lit several small fires in the exercise yard they were in”.
Inmates later took control of the prison’s “top jail”, burning buildings and camping out on the roof of a unit, the Department of Corrections said.
During the six-day stand-off, the group caused “extensive damage to the facility” and “constructed a number of makeshift weapons”.
“While the group state that they are protesting conditions at the prison and not rioting, their actions are clearly violent,” the department said during the stand-off.
Waititi said that “even prison guards acknowledged to us that the state of the unit was unacceptable.”