dpa/GNA – Sixteen inmates who had been locked in a stand-off with authorities and camped on the roof of a New Zealand prison for almost a week have surrendered.
Rawiri Waititi, a member of Parliament and co-leader of the Maori Party, said he escorted the 16 men out of Waikeria Prison, south of Auckland, at approximately midday on Sunday (2300 GMT Saturday).
“They were ready to come down. Naturally, they were tired and hungry but still very determined to see change,” Waititi said in a statement.
“They have achieved what they set out to do when they embarked on bringing attention to their maltreatment in Prison,” the lawmaker added.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis was cited by the NZ Herald as confirming the siege was over. He said that the group destroyed the prison’s “top jail,” rendering it unusable.
The incident started on December 29, when emergency services were deployed to the prison, one of New Zealand’s largest, after some prisoners “lit several small fires in the exercise yard they were in.”
Inmates later took control of the prison’s “top jail,” burning buildings and camping out on the roof of a unit, the Department of Corrections said.
During the six-day stand-off, the group caused “extensive damage to the facility” and “constructed a number of makeshift weapons.”
“While the group state that they are protesting conditions at the prison and not rioting, their actions are clearly violent,” the department said during the stand-off.
Waititi said that “even prison guards acknowledged to us that the state of the unit was unacceptable.”