Corrections officers want more tools, including possibly pepper spray and Tasers, to be made available to them.
Their call comes in the wake of a hostage drama at Paremoremo prison in Auckland today, the second this year.
Beven Hanlon, president of the Corrections Association, the prison officers' union, said there was nothing to stop the situation arising again and he called for a review of officers' safety.
"They (the prisoners) know that we have absolutely no tools whatsoever to stop them doing it," he told Radio New Zealand tonight.
North Shore police said a 35-year-old male inmate at Paremoremo would be charged with kidnapping after the hostage incident. He would probably appear in North Shore District Court next week.
Police were called to the prison about 10am after a 55-year -old male corrections officer was taken hostage.
"The inmate locked himself and his hostage in a room in the maximum security sector of the prison, and used a piece of metal to jam the door closed," a police spokesman said.
"The inmate armed himself with a fire extinguisher but no serious danger was added or created to the hostage situation."
A senior corrections officer defused the situation by talking the inmate into surrendering by the time police arrived at the prison.
The corrections officer was not injured.
Mr Hanlon said just about every day a prison officer was assaulted in some way, with someone being hurt badly enough to be admitted to hospital at least once a month.
For protection a corrections officer "carries his cotton uniform and his wit", he said.
"These people we're looking after are getting more and more violent on the outside, and let's just remember what we're doing is getting all New Zealand's worst offenders, we're putting them in close proximity to each other and then we're expecting corrections officers to deal with anything that happens.
"It's not just us they're attacking, they're attacking each other and we're expected to stop that as well," he said.
"This is happening across the country -- Rimutaka is particularly bad for assaults on staff at the moment.
"It's not so much the Tasers, we've been asking for a review of security procedures, and tools and different options to be able to use," he said.
Corrections officers wanted things like pepper spray held in guard rooms in case it was needed.
To suggestions that prisoners could get hold of the pepper spray and attack officers, he said that in the past 18 months two prison officers had been stabbed in the eye with sharpened toothbrushes.
"Pepper spray is not really what they're going to be going for, they can make some pretty vicious weapons out of the average day-today things they have around them."
Green Party MP Keith Locke said while he supported corrections officers' call for more options, he was opposed to them using Tasers.
"I really support the need to review what capability prison officers have in terms of going into a dangerous situation."