The High Court has dismissed a prisoner's claim that prison authorities breached his rights by transferring him from Auckland to Ngawha Prison near Kaikohe.

Nicholas Reekie took the Attorney General to court, seeking a declaration that several of his rights under the New Zealand Bill of Rights were breached by deliberately misinforming him of the reasons for the transfer and other matters.

Reekie was serving a sentence of preventive detention at Auckland Prison when a decision was made to transfer him to Ngawha Prison in July 2011.

He said the transfer and use of restraints were unreasonable, unlawful and unnecessary, and that his move to another prison thwarted attempts he had been making to hold a family group conference designed to restore his relationship with his sister.


Reekie claimed manager of Auckland Prison, Neil Beales, made the transfer decision in retaliation to a letter of complaint the prisoner had sent that contained several complaints about another senior prison manager, Murray Sweet.

Beales denied the claim.

Reekie's rehabilitative prospects being affected by his significant difficulties with Sweet and issues the former has had with other prisoners where he was at risk of physical harm led to his transfer, Beales said.

At a hearing, Justice Graham Lang asked Beales why he didn't take a lesser step of moving Reekie to a different part of Auckland Prison.

Justice Graham Lang has ruled Nicholas Reekie's transfer from Auckland Prison to Ngawha Prison was lawful. Photo/NZME
Justice Graham Lang has ruled Nicholas Reekie's transfer from Auckland Prison to Ngawha Prison was lawful. Photo/NZME

Beales said Reekie was a voluntary segregated prisoner which meant there were limitations on the areas in which he could be housed at in that prison.

He said he was not aware of a planned family group conference at the time of Reekie's transfer however, he did not see any reason why it could not have taken place at a prison outside Auckland.

Reekie also complained about the prison authorities' failure to give him notice of transfer as stipulated under the Corrections Act.

Beales said he decided not to give prior notice as he believed Reekie would immediately have taken steps to resist the transfer by barricading himself in a cell or threatening self-harm.


Reekie also took exception to the way he was transferred from Auckland, particularly the use of handcuffs and waist restraints in a "dirty" van during the four-hour journey.

Beales said the use of restraints was very common when transferring high security prisoners.