An inmate at an Auckland prison has attacked and injured two corrections staff members, one seriously, after managing to break open his cell door.
Regional Commissioner Lynette Cave has labelled the attack which occurred on Saturday night as "unprovoked and gutless."
She says staff members were carrying out regular patrols just after 8pm when they noticed a cell door had been damaged.
They entered the wing of the cell to inspect the door which is where they were assaulted by the prisoner who gained access to the corridor area by causing "significant damage" to his cell door.
Additional staff responded right away and after negotiating with the prisoner were able to move him, in handcuffs to another cell where he was strip-searched and secured.
One staff member was taken to hospital, where she remains, with serious injuries and the other was seen by a nurse at the prison before going home.
Cave says both staff members are receiving support from managers and colleagues, and the staff member not receiving hospital care has already returned to work.
An investigation is underway as to how the prisoner was able to damage the cell door, which is designed to withstand considerable damage, and how it can be prevented from happening again.
Cave says the incident caused no safety threat to the public.
"There are multiple levels of security in place at the prison, and the prisoner was not able to access any other area of the prison."
The prisoner involved was already being managed on a "regime of directed segregation" following what Cave calls a "persistent pattern of assaulting staff and non-compliant behaviour."
Cave says corrections staff have been working with the prisoner to improve his behaviour and he will be held accountable for his actions.
"Staff have been actively working with him to encourage him to improve his mental wellbeing," she says.
"He will continue to be held to account for his actions, and police have been advised."
Cave says all staff involved did an "exceptional and brave job."
"They work in highly challenging circumstances with some of the most dangerous, difficult, and unwell people in New Zealand."
Two separate reviews are now underway and police are determining what criminal charges will be laid against the inmate involved.