Revelations that a Serco prison officer instructed inmates on fighting technique show management of the privately-run Mt Eden prison was "completely shambolic", Labour says.
"Just when we thought that it couldn't get any more crazy, it did," Labour's Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said, after new details of why an officer was suspended were revealed.
During question time today, Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said media reports on the weekend that the officer had fought an inmate were incorrect.
Mr Lotu-Iiga said footage of the incident was taken on June 23, and he was advised of it on August 6.
"I haven't seen the footage but I have been advised that it shows a prison guard, on CCTV footage, approaching a group of prisoners who were sparring," Mr Lotu-Iiga said, to laughter from the opposition benches.
"Sparring is a banned activity, and Serco were shown the footage on August 6. Serco have suspended the staff member while the investigation proceeds."
In response, Mr Davis asked if Mr Lotu-Iiga, "was saying that guards are now training the inmates how to fight?"
"This case has been the subject of a lot of hearsay and mis-reporting. What I am saying is it is currently under investigation by the Chief Inspectorate, and we should await the findings of his review," Mr Lotu-Iiga said.
More pressure was put on Mr Lotu-Iiga and the British company Serco today after another incident involving violence between inmates.
The Ombudsman investigated after a segregated prisoner at Mt Eden prison was assaulted by mainstream inmates on two separate occasions in 2013. Corrections was told it owed an apology to the inmate for failing to ensure his safety.
Mr Lotu-Iiga said the full report had not yet been released, but there had clearly been failings.
"It's not good enough and it will form part of all the incidents we will look at [when] making decisions around the future of Mt Eden."
Mr Lotu-Iiga said Serco had been fined $100,000 for a number of incidents when prisoners were incorrectly mixed.
"We are looking [at] whether they can be fined for the alleged assaults, and we will get back to you."
The Corrections Department has taken control of the remand prison, which was being operated by Serco, following allegations of fight clubs involving inmates and drug smuggling.
The Prison Inspectorate and the Ombudsman is carrying out a review of the prison after the allegations.