Sometimes the Sensible Sentencing Trust fails to live up to its name.

It thought it had a "gotcha" when it asked the Corrections department about a Black Power member volunteering at Whanganui prison.

But if such a knee-jerk reaction results in the removal of a good man from doing a worthwhile job, then that's a fail.

Ngapari Nui has been volunteering at Whanganui prison for five years as kaiwhakamana.


His membership of Black Power should not be an issue if, as sociologist and Patched author Jarrod Gilbert said shortly after the story broke, his record at the prison is good.

Has he been a positive presence at the prison? Has he favoured Black Power over the Mongrel Mob or used his position to promote the gang over other prisoners or enable crime?

Many people in Whanganui and elsewhere have links to Black Power - that's a fact of life. It doesn't make them criminals.

Former priest, current Black Power member and long-time private and public sector consultant Dennis Reilly is proof we can be different things to different people - patch or no patch.

But there's more to the Sensible Sentencing Trust's complaint than this.

It is saying that Ngati Ruanui, who chose Mr Nui, didn't know what they were doing.

Perhaps what the Sensible Sentencing Trust doesn't realise is we all have different parts to our lives.

We belong to different social circles and cultures.

Mr Nui, for instance, is able to sign deals with multinational oil companies on behalf of his iwi.

The wisest thing the trust could have done was give Dame Tariana Turia a call before going public to get the measure of the man.

Let's let good sense prevail.