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  • Corrections unreasonable not to pay for inmate’s glasses for re-integration programme

    Case notes
    Long serving prison inmate required glasses to participate in reintegration programme and work in prison tailor shop—Department of Corrections refused to pay for glasses unless inmate would refund them through his prison earnings—inmate later found out Department had paid for another inmate’s glasses in full—Ombudsman sustained complaint that inmate was not treated fairly—refund to inmate of money paid recommended.
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the detention and treatment of prisoners

    Systemic investigations
    Under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, it is a function of the Ombudsmen to investigate complaints relating to matters of administration affecting persons in their personal capacity against various bodies, including the Department of Corrections (the Department). Pursuant to this Act, the Ombudsmen have power to investigate complaints by prisoners about all aspects of their detention by the Department. At the end of 2004 serious issues related to the treatment of prisoners came to public attention.
  • Ministry of Social Development has no authority to require beneficiary to appoint agent

    Case notes
    Illiterate beneficiary preferred to communicate verbally, frequently and often vociferously—the Ministry arranged for beneficiary’s solicitor to become agent—Ombudsman sought advice from Ministry as to authority it was relying on to request appointment of an agent—the Ministry confirmed there was no specific legislative authority— Ombudsman formed view that requirement unreasonable—complainant revoked agency and dealt directly with Ministry again
  • Work and Income and balance of benefit debt waived

    Case notes
    Recovery of benefit overpayment by Income Support Service—existence of debt acknowledged—failure to provide breakdown of how debt arose—benefit file could not be located—balance of debt waived
  • Right of review available to Work and Income beneficiary over advance payment to spouse

    Case notes
    Wife of beneficiary granted advance on Invalid’s Benefit to pay power account without beneficiary’s knowledge or consent—beneficiary and wife later separated—advance recovered from beneficiary’s Invalid’s Benefit—beneficiary maintained Department had no authority to make advance—right of review available—further investigation precluded—Ombudsmen Act 1975, s 13(7)(1)(a)
  • Department of Conservation resolves impasse concerning ivory-key piano held by New Zealand Customs

    Case notes
    Refusal to release piano imported from United Kingdom—family heirloom from 1920s—need for approval of Department of Conservation under CITES because of ivory content—conflict between New Zealand legislation implementing CITES and European Community Regulations—impasse resolved by acceptance of statutory declaration by family—conflict to be raised with CITES Secretariat