The Corrections Minister has announced a "robust and thorough" review over footage of inmates engaging in banned behaviour in New Zealand prisons.

Over the last few days, video footage has emerged which apparently shows prisoners at Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) fighting and engaging in other activities that are banned inside New Zealand prison facilities.

An internal investigation into these events is being carried out by Serco, which runs the remand facility.

Police have also been advised and may conduct their own investigations.


Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has now asked Corrections to carry out a robust and thorough review of the incidents.

"This behaviour of prisoners is unacceptable. Today I am announcing the terms of reference for that review," he said.

"I have also asked the chief executive of Corrections to widen the scope of this review to address other allegations related to violence and the use of cell phones in other prisons that have come to light recently."

The Chief Inspector of Corrections will now run a two-stage review. The first phase of the review will be completed by the end of August and phase two by the end of September.

Phase one will look at the circumstances surrounding the incidents posted to social media and whether there are organised prisoner fights at Mt Eden.

The investigation will pay particular attention to the last three months to determine whether this type of activity is widespread across the site or limited to specific units, whether management or staff knew of it, what they did about it and what measures have been taken to restrict contraband.

"I also expect recommendations to come out of it to strengthen controls, standards and operating procedures if warranted," Mr Lotu-Iiga said.

The second phase will review the adequacy of controls designed to address prisoner violence and access to cell phones in other New Zealand prisons.


"To ensure an independent view of this process, the Office of the Ombudsman has been invited to monitor and review the investigation. Full cooperation will be afforded to the Ombudsman's investigator, who may also independently report on any matter concerning the incidents or its subsequent investigation," Mr Lotu-Iiga said.

"I have already put Serco on notice over the incidents at MECF. I will be meeting with Serco senior management this week and I am expecting a positive and strong response from the company in resolving these issues."

Labour leader Andrew Little said the decision to contract out prison management to a private provider should also be reviewed as part of the 'fight club' inquiry into Mt Eden.

Mr Little said the government agencies investigating video of apparent 'fight clubs' and footage of prisoners with contraband at Mt Eden Prison were all involved in the decision to contract out management of the prison to Serco.

"So no-one is questioning or challenging the merits and principles of that decision. So yes they might get to the bottom of it, but I don't see anything in the review questioning whether it was the right thing to do to hand over management of a prison to a private operator."

He said the review should look at how Serco made staffing and resource decisions, but those matters did not appear to be in the terms of reference set by the Corrections Minister for the investigations.