Meth queen's baking bad

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2013
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A woman who once called herself "the queen of crack" may now find herself dubbed the queen of cake after being busted with an illegal stash of the sweet treat in her jail cell.

Meth dealer Manu Hine Ngaronoa, 50, has been busted with baking hidden in her cell at Christchurch Women's Prison.

Documents provided by career criminal and jailhouse lawyer Arthur Taylor show prison officers raided Ngaronoa's cell on July 12. Inside they found a slab of homemade chocolate-iced cake, covered in cling film under her bed. She was charged with having an article without the authority of an officer.

Corrections Services southern regional commissioner Ian Bourke said Ngaronoa had been warned about hoarding baking ingredients.

Prisoners in possession of unapproved items raised "serious issues" for staff, Bourke said. Sugar and butter were at times sought-after and could lead to threats and intimidation among prisoners. Stockpiled sugar could be used to make home brew, he said.

"Just as I thought there was nothing Corrections could do that would surprise me, they come along with something that sets a new benchmark for stupidity," Taylor said.

He said Ngaronoa was a mother figure to many of the younger girls at the prison and was fondly known as "Aunty Mumz".

She bought biscuits and Milo from the prison canteen, mixed them with other baking ingredients she had hoarded and made the chocolate cake. The cake would have been a welcome luxury to supplement the lacklustre meals served up in prison, Taylor said.

"The raid wasn't carried out for a shank, a gun or a cellphone, tobacco or even a litre or two of home brew - but a slab of homemade chocolate cake.

"Surely you would say our overworked prison guards have more important things to do than waste taxpayer dollars searching out and charging someone with possessing chocolate cake."

Ngaronoa was jailed for seven years and two months last year for her role in a six-member methamphetamine ring, which boasted of making more than $800,000 in a year. They were busted by Napier detectives in November 2010 after a five-month investigation.

Police tapped cellphones and landlines and set up recording devices in the house of Ngaronoa, who referred to herself in one call as "the queen of crack" and said she supplied most of the methamphetamine in Hawke's Bay.

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- Sunday Star Times

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