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Report on an announced inspection of Pohutukawa Forensic Intellectual Disability Unit, Mason Clinic, under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989

Peter Boshier
Issue date:

Executive Summary 

Ombudsmen are designated as one of the National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989 (COTA), with responsibility for examining and monitoring the conditions and treatment of care recipients [1] detained in secure units within New Zealand hospitals.

Care recipients receive treatment and rehabilitation services provided by Waitematā District Health Board’s (DHB’s) Mason Clinic Regional Forensic Psychiatric Services (the Service).

The services are contracted by the Ministry of Health’s Regional Intellectual Disability Secure Services (RIDSS). [2]

Between 12 and 15 April 2021, three Inspectors [3] — whom I have authorised to carry out visits to places of detention under COTA on my behalf — made an announced inspection of Pohutukawa Forensic Intellectual Disability Unit (the Unit), within the Mason Clinic, located in Point Chevalier, Auckland.

A note about terminology 

I acknowledge the importance of language around disability, and that people have differing views on the meaning, accuracy, and effects of particular terms. I have chosen to use the term ‘intellectual disability’ in this report.

There is no single definition of ‘intellectual disability’. People with intellectual disabilities are a diverse group who may experience challenges understanding new or complex information, learning new skills, and living independently. The Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003 (the IDCCR Act) provides a legal definition [4] and, relevant to this report, a framework for the compulsory care, rehabilitation, and special rights of people with intellectual disabilities.  

Other terms used to refer to people with intellectual disabilities include ‘tangata whaikaha hinengaro’, ‘intellectually impaired people’, or ‘people with a learning disability’.


[1] The Unit referred to people under the IDCCR Act as ‘care recipients’ and those under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 as ‘service users’. For the purpose of anonymity in this report, the term care recipients is used to refer to all people being held on the Unit under a detaining order.

[2] RIDSS provide hospital level secure residential services and assessment beds. Both Auckland and Wellington RIDSS services provide some beds for clients transferring from other regions. RIDSS are contracted through the DHBs.

[3] When the term Inspectors is used, this refers to the inspection team comprising of three Inspectors.

[4] Section 7.

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