A tense hostage situation involving convicted murderer George Charlie Baker continues to play out at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo this evening.

Corrections have confirmed Baker, who is serving at least 18 years for murder, has a hostage, thought to be an 83-year-old sex offender.

Baker is serving time for the murder of Liam Ashley, whom he bashed to death in the back of a Chubb prison van in 2006.

A Corrections spokeswoman could not confirm reports Baker's victim was an elderly sex offender.

Police have been at the maximum security prison trying to end the hostage drama since 3.30pm.

Northern regional manager Warren Cummins says police and prison staff are continuing to talk with Baker and their priority is the safety of the hostage.

"The focus of our attention is on de-escalating the situation and coming to a peaceful resolution," Mr Cummins said.

Baker, 27, was jailed for a minimum of 18 years in December 2006 for strangling and stomping Ashley, 17.

Ashley's death prompted a damning Ombudsmen's report on prisoner transport.

One News reports Ashley's father, Ian, has been told of the hostage situation.

More recently Baker was involved in another violent escape attempt.

Last July he attacked a prison officer using a makeshift knife in an apparent escape bid, while being transported back to Auckland Prison from Auckland City Hospital.

Baker has been convicted 83 times. His crimes include assault and robbery along with the murder of Ashley, a crime for which he made unsuccessful appeals to both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

In a statement earlier, Corrections said there were no safety concerns for staff and "the safe extraction of the prisoner being held hostage is our top priority".

A witness who drove past the prison spotted at least five police cars outside the prison.

- NZ HERALD STAFF