One of New Zealand's most high-profile prisoners says he is confident he will transition back into the community and wants to gain a law degree after being released.

Arthur William Taylor was granted parole last Thursday after being denied 19 times prior.

Today, the Parole Board released its written decision for the 62-year-old, whose end of sentence release date was not until 2022.

Taylor was serving 17 and a half years for charges of explosives, firearms, kidnapping and conspiracy to supply methamphetamine, among other crimes.


Almost 40 years of his life has been spent in custody due to his more than 150 convictions for offences including bank robbery, burglary, fraud and drugs.

Taylor sought to be paroled to a semi-rural Dunedin home, where he will live with a soon-to-be law graduate.

"Taylor advised that he speaks regularly with [withheld] and he has formed a close relationship with them. They are all interested in social justice," the decision reads.

"He is confident that he will transition back into the community without any issue."

The Parole Board said the advantages of the placement will give Taylor the opportunity to "wind down in a non-pressured situation, away from the pressures of urban living and out of the considerable public eye".

Taylor also wishes to study and the Parole Board received written confirmation of university courses being provided to him in both in Dunedin and Auckland.

His intention, the decision reads, is to transfer to Auckland in six to eight months, while he also "anticipates an offer of employment" from a withheld employer.

"Taylor has an ambition to gain a law degree and to continue to work in the social justice arena, something that he has been able to do even as a prisoner for a number of years," the decision reads.


"Taylor was excited about the future work opportunities of a para-legal kind for different organisations. He mentioned that he has a High Court civil trial that is to commence in February in Auckland and is confident that many opportunities will present to him."

Arthur Taylor says he will study law and continue his social justice work. Photo / File
Arthur Taylor says he will study law and continue his social justice work. Photo / File

In recent years Taylor has become better known as the "jailhouse lawyer" after a series of successful court cases.

These included the 2017 prosecution and trial of Roberto Conchie Harris - secret "Witness C" - for perjury at David Tamihere's double-murder trial in 1990.

He was also instrumental in the courts ruling that denying New Zealand's prisoners the right to vote was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, and challenged the legality of the prison smoking ban.

The Parole Board said there is a "strong argument" that Taylor's involvement in the legal world has "raised his own personal understanding of the need to comply with lawful directions".

"Taylor understands that he has created for himself a high-profile within the community and that will bring its own pressures, but he tells the Board that he is confident that he will be able to deal with this challenge and the ever present watchful eye of the community probation office."


At previous Parole Board hearings, Taylor's risk of reoffending "had been analysed in some depth and at some length", the decision reads.

"There are departmental psychological report assessments that Mr Taylor continues to pose a high risk of general offending.

"There are other psychological reports that assess a lower risk, recognising completion of rehabilitative programmes and he having a strong release plan."

The last time Taylor was considered for parole the Board favoured further events-focused prison-based psychological treatment as "part and parcel of a slow and careful transition to release".

"The Board recognises that Mr Taylor has been in prison for a long time, has completed all the rehabilitative programmes available to him and that no further constructive reintegration can be provided to him," today's decision reads.

"The conclusion that the Board reaches is that Mr Taylor does not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community."


Taylor, who told the Parole Board he will now live a law-abiding life, first hit the headlines in 1998 after he escaped from the maximum security prison at Paremoremo, north of Auckland, with three others, including double murderer Graeme Burton.

The group made their way to the Coromandel, where they hunkered down in luxury holiday homes, including the bach of a multi-millionaire, and the bush to evade authorities.

Last year, the Herald was granted access by the Department of Corrections to interview the infamous prisoner.

"I was like a mastermind of organising criminal activities," Taylor said.

"I'd get a great deal of satisfaction from the rewards and adulation you'd get from criminals. Now I've transposed that into what I do now [where] it is directed in a pro-social and community direction."

Several parole conditions were imposed on Taylor, including not to possess or use drugs, attend psychological assessments and not contact any of his victims.