Inquiry into the Waikeria Prison riot

19 March 2021 

Media release – Independent external advisors appointed to Inquiry into Waikeria Prison riot

Chief Inspector of Corrections Janis Adair has appointed four independent external advisors to assist with the Inquiry into the Waikeria Prison riot.

Ms Adair, who heads the operationally independent Office of the Inspectorate Te Tari Tirohia, is leading the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the riot that began at Waikeria Prison on the afternoon of 29 December 2020 and ended on 3 January 2021.

The Inquiry will investigate what was known prior to the riot, review the response as the incident unfolded, and consider the preparedness of the Department of Corrections Ara Poutama Aotearoa for a major disorder incident at this site and across the entire prison network.

The appointed independent external advisors are Sir David Carruthers, an eminent member of the legal community; Lady Tureiti Moxon, who has extensive experience in Māori health, education, social justice and Whānau Ora; Dr Robert Joseph, Associate Professor of Law, nominated by the Maniapoto Māori Trust Board; and Baden Vertongen, a senior lawyer and mediator, nominated by the Raukawa Settlement Trust.

“It is critical that the public have trust and confidence in the Inquiry. Having these four external advisors will ensure the independence of the Inspectorate is upheld,” says Ms Adair.

“Importantly, I am working in partnership with local iwi to ensure that Treaty obligations are fulfilled.”

The work of the Inquiry has been underway since January and the appointment of the four external advisors is an important step for Ms Adair as she discharges her responsibilities to fulfil the Inquiry’s terms of reference.

The Inquiry has established an operational team with a wide variety of skills and experience, including custody, law, investigation and oversight, clinical psychology, health, rehabilitation and case management. It also has a kaupapa Māori lens, with the support of Te Tari o te Kiingitanga.

Ms Adair said the Inquiry was appropriately resourced to deliver on the terms of reference within the timeframe.

More information about the independent external advisors:

Sir David Carruthers

Sir David was appointed as a judge of the Family Court and Youth Court in 1985 and then Chief District Court Judge. He was formerly Chair of the New Zealand Parole Board and Chair of the New Zealand Independent Police Conduct Authority. He was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005 and was knighted in 2009 for his service to the District Courts.

Lady Tureiti Moxon

Lady Tureiti Moxon (Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāti Kahungunu, Kai Tahu) has a legal background and is currently Managing Director of Te Kōhao Health, a health, education, Whānau Ora and justice service provider in Waikato. She is the Chair of the National Urban Māori Authority and also serves on the National Police Governance Group for Te Pae Oranga Iwi Community Panels.

Dr Robert Joseph

Dr Joseph (Tainui, Tuwharetoa, Kahungunu and Ngāi Tahu) is an Associate Professor of Law at Waikato University. He is a registered Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, a licensed researcher for the Waitangi Tribunal, founding member of the Taumata for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the New Zealand representative on a number of international indigenous governance and trade consortia.

Baden Vertongen

Mr Vertongen (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga) is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and a mediator. He has worked with Māori and non-Māori organisations and individuals to help solve legal and other problems for more than 20 years. He has his own law practice in Wellington. He has assisted with Treaty of Waitangi settlements for a number of iwi.

Inquiry Terms of  Reference

The Department of Corrections’ Chief Executive has instructed the Chief Inspector to investigate and report on the circumstances surrounding the riot that began at Waikeria Prison on the afternoon of 29 December 2020, including the Department’s response, and the preparedness for such incidents throughout the prison network.

Terms of reference