Rioting inmates at Waikeria Prison are resorting to boiling dirty water to drink as they enter the third day of the siege without sustenance.
A woman who has been in daily phone contact with her protesting partner inside the jail told the Herald while the 17 prisoners were using desperate means to quench their thirst, some were concerned everything was escalating out of control.
Now there were growing fears armed police brought in to quell the uprising would open fire.
The prisoner had apologised to his partner and mother of his child for getting into the situation but said it was important to bring about change.
The partner was praying for a peaceful resolution to the standoff - and hoping the men's pleas to speak to someone important about the appalling jailhouse conditions in Waikeria Prison would be granted.
She said during one of the phone calls from inside the jail her partner, who was currently on remand, was describing what he could see from his vantage point.
"He was telling me what he was seeing which was armed offenders with guns and he was quite scared as well. They all didn't want it to be this way and to go this far but it has.
They're just trying to prove a point and get it out there," she said.
The men remain holed up inside the extensively damaged wing of the top jail at the Waikato medium security prison following a rampage on Tuesday afternoon.
Some 200 prisoners in the dilapidated remand facility have been shifted elsewhere, with the handful of rioting prisoners hoping the extreme acts will bring attention to conditions inside the jail.
The woman said she was shocked when her partner called her from the uprising to tell her what had happened.
"I didn't think he'd even be in this kind of mess, " she said.
"He rang me on Tuesday night and I got a bit of a fright because he usually goes in at three o'clock in the afternoon.
"He was just apologising because he's supposed to be out soon and he knew what he was about to do meant he was not going to be able to see us for a while.
"But they're not there to harm anybody. They don't want anybody to get hurt. They just want to get their points out.
She said the men were especially keen to speak to someone important who would listen and lobby on their behalf.
While she was concerned for his wellbeing, she said they were making the best of a bad situation.
"He didn't complain about anything but he did say they found some dirty water and they were boiling it to drink it," she said.
"At the moment they're not really worried about drinking or eating - they're hungry - but they're more concerned with getting their point out to the public. They want to speak to someone important because they feel like they're getting treated unfairly."
She said it was all about drawing attention to the state of prisoner conditions which she claimed was damaging the mens' mental health.
"I speak to my partner every single day and I've noticed his mental health is suffering.
"He's down all the time and he keeps telling me the way he's being treated in there.
"He gets fed out of a paper bag - not on a plate - and has to eat it in his cell where he goes to the toilet."
"It's not only affecting him but it's affecting us as well. They're not getting any help with their mental health in there."
She said as the siege continued she was waiting for phone calls.
"He calls me to let me know he's okay, which is good. "
Every conversation ended with a heartfelt declaration of love.
"We don't know what's going to happen afterwards. They might come in with guns and I might not see him again."
A Corrections Department spokesperson said there had been no change in the situation at the jail today.