Waikeria Prison: At least four protesting inmates deportees from Australia, Newshub asked to enter prison by family

As the Waikeria prison protest escalated to a new level overnight with a massive fire burning buildings, Newshub has learnt at least four of the prisoners are '501s' sent here from Australia.

Newshub has also been asked to take part in negotiating an end to the standoff.

The night sky lit up as the oldest part of Waikeria Prison burnt. The inmates were small silhouettes next to the leaping flames they watched for two hours.

The 16 men were spending their fourth night protesting the allegedly inhumane conditions at the maximum security jail. Twelve hours later smoke continued to waft out of the complex. 

"I mean they're being treated like stray animals... thrown in the pound," says Andrew, a prisoner's uncle.

The uncle of three men, worried about his nephews. 

"This is definitely not a riot. Because if it was a riot, I'd be the first one that’s firing bullets at them. ... This a protest. All they want is just normal standard jail hygiene requirements, thats all they want."

Newshub understands at least four of the men defiantly protesting from the roof are 501 deportees from Australia. Their family members say they are willing to die for this cause - but like Corrections, desperately want this standoff to come to a safe conclusion. 

Corrections says the situation remains highly volatile and dangerous.  

They're particularly concerned about the weapons they say the men have been fashioning out of items they've found. They've also managed to get hold of body armour and batons. 

Negotiations are ongoing with the men, but on Saturday night came a possible solution from the families. 

"Let the hub and I go in to the men and we will have them down. This can stop today," says Gunnyo, a prisoner's mother.

Gunnyo is asking Newshub to join her inside the prison to record proof of the conditions the men are protesting about. She says they also want a written document signed by the men and Corrections to agree on a way forward.

"Proof, just proof. Sorry to say that there is the trust, there is no more shake of a hand. It is all based on trust and I trust hub to hear our men's voices." 

But in another headache for Corrections, there are now fears the unrest could extend to other parts of the jail.

The Mongrel Mob says it's getting calls from inmates in those areas without power or water, something Newshub hasn't been able to independently verify. 

"The ripple effect is starting to pour in that way where they don't have no regular showers, there is no TV allowed. Most of it is all locked down and the only time they get unlocked is when they come out for their meals," says Mongrel Mob Waikato leader Sonny Fatupaito.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis is yet to speak publicly about the unrest at Waikeria, while his National Party counterpart has turned up at the gates.

"To send a message to Kelvin Davis, that he needs to get down here and actually ensure that the people responding to this, Corrections and all of the emergency service responders, have all the support they need to bring this to an end and restore law and order at Waikeria Prison as quickly as possible," says National's Corrections spokesperson Simeon Brown.

As the standoff stretches into a fifth evening, there's little sign the violence of this siege is coming to an end.