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RAWIRI - Whatarangi - 03/02/2012

Parole hearing
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002

Whatarangi RAWIRI                           

3 February 2012
at (withheld)

Members of the Board:
Hon. MA Frater
Mr M Hakiaha
Mr A Ritchie
Ms L Nathan

Ms S Jocelyn for Department of Corrections

Support Persons:
(names withheld)


Whatarangi Rawiri, who is now 27 years old, is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for the murder of Michael Choy on 12 September 2001 – her 17th birthday.

The Board which saw Ms Rawiri in November last year scheduled her to be seen by this panel of the Board so that the suitability of her proposed release accommodation could be revisited.  To that end, the Board asked that accommodation in  (withheld)  supported by  (withheld), be reassessed by CPS. 

A report from the local CPS Service Manager is now to hand.  He continues to have reservations and concerns about the suitability of this particular accommodation option for Ms Rawiri.  These are outlined in the report.  They include the lack of a formal application process or any apparent structure or rules to be adhered to by occupants, the possibility of other ex-inmates acting as mentors and the absence of processes for dealing with the media scrutiny which will inevitably follow Ms Rawiri’s release. 

We talked with  (withheld) about these concerns.  Unfortunately, he has been unable to secure an appointment with the report writer to discuss them.  He believes they are not insurmountable.  We would hope so, and concur with the view of the previous Board that if the perceived problems can be resolved this would seem to be the most suitable accommodation for Ms Rawiri.

We certainly do not support the alternative suggestion that she be released to PARS Supported Accommodation.  In our view, it would be completely inappropriate for a young person such as Ms Rawiri to be released into Central Auckland, away from members of her whanau and the strong support base she has built in and around South Auckland.

Accordingly, although Ms Rawiri has worked hard on formulating a release plan, without accommodation it remains incomplete. 

It is also important that her reintegration into society is managed carefully.  So far she has participated in three escorted shopping outings.  Her first unescorted temporary release to the home of a young woman who was a childhood friend (withheld).  This needs to be followed by further such releases of increasing frequency and duration – leading to outings every three weeks or so for up to 72 hours.  We would also support her participating in release to work.  She has been pre-approved for this but is waiting for a suitable position to become available.

In the meantime, no doubt Ms Rawiri will continue in her role as a functions head cook in the prison kitchen where, she says, her cooking skills are expanding each day.  Others have commented on the way she demonstrates leadership skills in this role.  It would also be useful if she were able to participate in Kowhiritanga maintenance sessions, given that she completed that programme in mid 2006.

At this stage parole must be declined.  Ms Rawiri accepts that she has more work to do before the tests in Sections 7 and 28 of the Parole Act 2002 are met. 

However, she is clearly on the right path.  She is acutely aware of her high risk situations and is committed to working on those aspects of her behaviour and attitude which she can change.  She also has the benefit of an impressive group of supporters.

Ms Rawiri will be scheduled to be seen again in accordance with the statutory cycle, although, of course, it is open to her to apply under section 26 of the Parole Act to be seen earlier if there is a significant change in her circumstances.

Hon. MA Frater
Panel Convenor


•    You may apply for a review of the Board’s decision under section 67(1).  The only grounds under which you may make an application for review are that the Board, in making its decision:

a)    Failed to comply with procedures in the Parole Act 2002; or
b)    Made an error of law; or
c)    Failed to comply with Board policy resulting in unfairness to the offender; or
d)    Based its decision on erroneous or irrelevant information that was material to the decision reached; or
e)    Acted without jurisdiction.

•    To apply for a review you must write to the Board within 28 days of its decision stating which of the above ground(s) you consider to be relevant in your case and giving reasons why you believe that ground(s) applies.
•    Reviews are considered on the papers only.  There is no hearing in respect of your Review Application.