Christmas Island: The 'Kiwi Alcatraz'

Christmas Island: The 'Kiwi Alcatraz'

3 News has got an exclusive look at Kiwi detainees awaiting deportation on Christmas Island.

Forty-three New Zealand criminals are in the notorious Christmas Immigration Detention Centre on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, just 500 kilometres south of Indonesia's capital, Jakata.

It is known as the "Kiwi Alcatraz" – hot, remote and with little to do for months on end.

The detention centre was originally designed for asylum seekers. But now increasingly it's for criminals awaiting deportation.

The detainees are known as the "501ers". That's because the hard-line law change deporting all criminals who have done a year or more in prison is the 501 Amendment.

We can't get in to the detention centre, but there are plenty of Kiwis wanting help and willing to talk, like Peina Clarke.  

"More Kiwis are on the way. All the boys are on their way to Christmas Island because this is where they're putting all 501s."

Ricki Downs has been at the detention centre for two months and says it's tough.

"At the moment we're in lockdown 20 hours of the day. Prison isn't even like that."

There is a lockdown because violence is taking hold.

"The more people you put in here from jail, the more it's going to end up like jail rules, so there is the odd scuffle here and there. But the whole complex shouldn't be punished for the actions of a few."

Christmas Island is incredibly remote. It took four flights and more than 15 hours of flying to reach it.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis is also on the island, trying to get access to the detention centre to visit detainees.

The Kiwis on Christmas Island say they are being told they could be at the detention centre more than a year while their appeals are being heard.

With little hope of a back-down from Australia, it will be a long 12 months of lockdowns, tropical heat and sporadic violence.

3 News