Two prisoners remain holed-up in an unused tower at New Zealand's toughest prison, and have turned to toothpaste to make themselves heard.
They had written "Peaceful protest against department" and "contact Peter Williams QC", a well-known lawyer who is firm on prisoner rights.
The pair climbed a disused observation tower at Auckland's Paremoremo Prison just north of Auckland at around 10.30am yesterday, sending the prison into lockdown.
They have held their ground last night and look to be spending another night holed-up tonight, with colder temperatures forecast .
The two men have made no demands but have aired their grievances through Williams.
"Inadequate education, inadequate visiting, inadequate access to their families, inadequate food and a lack of humane conditions," the defence lawyer told ONE News tonight.
Williams said he has never acted for Aaron Forden, one of the protesting inmates who is also known as 'Houdini' for his ability to escape from custody, or the other inmate but would be happy to help coax them out.
"I would have liked to have gone, listened to their grievances and I would have discussed mediation with the Corrections Department. I would have had no hesitation at all in going to see these people," he said.
Williams said he has been part of several successful prison negotiations, however the response from Corrections is 'no thanks'.
It has issued a statement saying it has trained negotiators already at Paremoremo, adding that staff have the situation under control.
"I think there will be more trouble in the prisons until some of the fundamental faults are remedied," Williams said.
"We must recognise that prisoners are human beings and they have a right to self-esteem and they have a right to dignity. They have a right to a life that's healthy and a life that will hopefully help them with their problems."
Protesting inmates no risk
Negotiators have been working to talk down the men but there are no plans to climb the tower to bring them back down.
The duo are not thought to be a risk to anyone in the prison, or outside.
"They are within the secure area in the maximum security prison which is why we know we have this incident absolutely contained," Acting General Manager of Prison Services Jeanette Burns told reporters yesterday.
"There is no threat to anyone else inside the prison or outside in the community because they are inside the maximum security."
In 2008, Aaron 'Houdini' Forden used a rope made from sheets to shimmy down the side of Mount Eden Prison. Last year he cost the new private prison company Serco a $150,000 fine when he broke out again.
He has also previously escaped from Whangarei District Court.
His side-kick is understood to be former Black Power member Damian Wereta, jailed for aggravated robbery, but also convicted for threatening prison staff.
Forden spent the day yesterday soaking in the sunshine and attention, and gathering metal strips from the tower.
Wereta appeared wrapped in a blanket. It is thought the pair could also have food.
Burns said prison authorities will probably just wait for the pair to come down from the tower.
"We probably will wait them out. That's the safest option. At some point they will probably get cold and tired and hungry and they will get themselves down," she said.
Corrections describes the situation as a nuisance rather than an embarrassment, but says there will be an investigation, and security will be upgraded if required.
- with Newstalk ZB