John WHAREKURA - 07/01/2020

Application for recall

Under section 60(1) of the Parole Act 2002


Alison Rei
Delegate for The Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections



John Michael Jaymain WHAREKURA

Hearing: 7 January 2020

at Northland Region Corrections Facility by AVL from New Zealand Parole Board, Wellington

Members of the Board:

  • Alan Ritchie (Panel Convenor)
  • Ms S Driver
  • Mr P Elenio


  • Mr M Smith (for applicant)

In attendance:

  • Ms L Cox (probation officer)
  • [withheld]


  1. The Board has considered an application for John Michael Jaymain Wharekura, 34, to be recalled from parole to prison to continue serving his life sentence for murder committed in 2002 when he was 16.  The victim was a female unknown to Mr Wharekura.
  2. Mr Wharekura was released on 21 September 2018 with standard conditions set to continue for life and special conditions for five years from the date of release.
  3. This application has been made by Operations Director Ms Rei on behalf of the Chief Executive.
  4. The application is supported by an affidavit from a probation officer who attended for the Department along with Mr Smith prosecuting.  Mr Wharekura was unrepresented, but he was clear in saying that he wished the hearing to proceed.  We have had a good discussion with him and he expressed himself well.
  5. The ground relied on by the Department is undue risk.
  6. In an affidavit in support, the probation officer has deposed to issues of transparency in Mr Wharekura’s engagement with his parole obligations and to problems with the management of mental health issues.
  7. All of the issues have been covered in detail by the probation officer in the affidavit.  The situation was amplified in discussion with the Board.  Mr Wharekura was said to have a lot of potential.  He was a pleasure to manage. He had the support available to him particularly through the church pastor [withheld].  There were other church people involved in support.  Also important in terms of support was [withheld] from whom we heard at the hearing.
  8. There seemed to us to be general agreement that time was required to revisit Mr Wharekura’s whole situation and to provide a stronger platform for him to enable him to manage adequately on parole and to assist in his management by the Department.
  9. Points raised by the probation officer included:

    - the question of any return to the [withheld] address needed to be stringently

    -   gang influences needed to be kept safely at bay.

    -   the detail of external support needed to be reviewed.

    -   the psychological situation needed to be reassessed.

    -   there needed to be a review of medication and mental health input.

  10. A significant matter raised in our discussions related to issues of self-sabotage coming to the surface as the anniversary of the offending approached in September of each year.  In this connection the probation officer emphasised her knowledge of the immense pressure brought about by Mr Wharekura’s deep appreciation of the enormity of his offending.
  11. As part of our consideration we have noted an earlier concern about mental health and the medication regime fully described in the decision of the releasing Board dated 10 August 2018.
  12. With several aspects of the release now having unravelled as described by the probation officer we are in no doubt that time must now be spent on rebuilding.  Without attention to the various matters we have mentioned Mr Wharekura will pose an undue risk.  For that reason we are exercising our discretion in favour of making a final recall order.
  13. We agree with the probation officer that there needs to be a new assessment by a departmental psychologist not only of the level of risk involved here but of how such risk as does exist is best addressed.  That will take some time though we reiterate our concern that work should commence just as soon as possible.
  14. We will be scheduling Mr Wharekura to be seen by an extended panel of the Board in August 2020.  That Board will, as we have mentioned, require the usual full range of reports including the updating psychological assessment.

Alan Ritchie
Panel Convenor