Half a dozen marae in Northland are being suggested as bail accommodation.

Currently people arrested on charges which would typically be bailed - such as first offenders and 18-year-olds - were being held in Auckland prisons because there was no accommodation available.

Marae could erect temporary 6-10 bedroom-type accommodation immediately to ease current bail application problems, a prisoner advocacy group has suggested.

The Sir Peter Williams QC Penal Reform League said those arrested and unable to obtain bail elsewhere could stay at marae, where the accommodation would be erected.


Spokesperson Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams said the marae could provide wrap-around-type services while those granted bail to the marae could assist around the marae.

Those on bail could carry out maintenance work such as painting, cleaning out spouting, mowing lawns and fitting lightbulbs.

She said marae such as Pipiwai, Motatau, Karetu, Waikare, Otiria, Ngararatunua in the north could all do with assistance from able-bodied newly bailed defendants.

"There is a real crisis and tribal groups have to help out," Phillips-Williams said.

"Our league has supported bail houses in every shape and form for decades but politicians typically fail to listen ... now it's at crisis point."

Phillips-Williams said people before the courts in Auckland and Northland were often unable to get bail due to the housing crisis.

League lawyers applying for bail on behalf of clients at Manukau, Auckland and Northland during the Christmas period had bail applications turned down because electronic bail did not operate in rural areas or alternative addresses were difficult to find due to the shortage of accommodation.

"After speaking with marae personnel in the north - and being informed that some marae require urgent assistance and another could even close up if it doesn't get help from the young ones – this is an idea that must be put into action immediately and one for the Minister of Corrections and Justice Minister to get on with immediately."


Phillips-Williams said marae hosting bailed offenders was clearly a win-win.

"Our marae get new help [and] new focus while bail is provided and prison numbers diminish."