Q+A: Waitangi and Maori re-offending

On Q+A this morning:

The Waitangi Tribunal has ruled the Crown is in breach of its obligations by failing to address Māori re-offending rates.

Jessica Mutch interviews Māori lawyer Moana Jackson about what needs to change.

Then, Labour’s Kelvin Davis tells us what he’d do for Māori if he was Corrections Minister.

Waitangi Tribunal releases report into disproportionate reoffending rate

The Waitangi Tribunal has found the Crown in breach of its Treaty obligations by failing to prioritise the reduction of the high rate of Māori reoffending relative to non-Māori.

In a report released today, Tū Mai te Rangi!, the Tribunal says the undisputed disparity between Māori and non-Māori reoffending rates is longstanding and substantial. It says high Māori reoffending rates contribute to the disproportionate imprisonment of Māori, who currently make up half of New Zealand’s prisoners, despite being only 15 per cent of the national population. The report looks at how the Crown, through the Department of Corrections, is failing to meet its Treaty responsibilities to reduce Māori reoffending rates.

The inquiry followed a claim filed by Tom Hemopo, a retired senior probation officer. The Tribunal, consisting of Judge Patrick Savage, Bill Wilson QC, Tania Simpson, and Professor Derek Lardelli, heard the claim under urgency in Wellington in July 2016.

The Tribunal looked at recent efforts by the Department to reduce the overall rate of reoffending by 25 per cent. It says the most recent statistics supplied by the Crown show Māori progress toward this target has slowed dramatically, while the gap between Māori and non-Māori progress toward the target has widened.

The Tribunal says that for the Crown to be acting consistently with its Treaty obligations in this context, it must be giving urgent priority to addressing disproportionate Māori reoffending rates in clear and convincing ways.

The Tribunal says that, while the Justice sector announced in February 2017 a broad target to reduce Māori reoffending, the Department has no specific plan or strategy to reduce Māori reoffending rates, no specific target to reduce Māori reoffending rates, and no specific budget to meet this end.

The Tribunal therefore concludes that the Crown is not prioritising the reduction of the rate of Māori reoffending and is in breach of its Treaty obligations to protect Māori interests and to treat Māori equitably.

The Tribunal finds that the Crown has not breached its partnership obligations, given that the Department of Corrections is making good faith attempts to engage with iwi and hapū. However, the Tribunal says the Crown must live up to its stated commitment to develop its partnerships with Māori.

Among the Tribunal’s recommendations is that the Department work with its Māori partners to design and implement a new Māori-specific strategic framework, set and commit to a Māori-specific target for the Department to reduce Māori reoffending rates, and regularly and publically report on the progress made towards this.

The Tribunal also recommends the Crown include a dedicated budget to appropriately resource the new strategic focus and target.

The Waitangi Tribunal’s report is now available to download: Tū Mai te Rangi! [PDF, 2.43MB] (external link).

Moan Jackson and Kelvin Davis both say the prison system is racist.

Kelvin Davis wants a non-partisan target set to reduce prisoner numbers by ‘say 30%’ in fifteen years.

Mike Williams say that the report recommendations are politically correct piffle. He wants the focus on tackling the prisoner illiteracy rate.

He doesn’t think the suggestion of separate Maori prisons is a good idea.

The first offence that gets 65% of Maori into jail is a driving offence.

Anton Blank (child advocate) says the report is ‘a yawn’.

Police need to address ‘unconscious bias’.

Fran O’Sullivan talks about the three year problem of voters demanding expensive and ineffective ‘get tough’ response.

Q+A:

The Waitangi Tribunal’s damning report on Māori re-offending was released earlier this week. Jessica Mutch with this extended interview with leading Māori lawyer Moana Jackson.

“We live in a society which was established as, as I said, on the race-based process of colonisation. Where people from Europe assumed they had a right to dispossess those whom they classed as ‘racially inferior’. Colonisation, by its nature, is racist, and the systems which then it imposes are necessarily racist as well,” said Mr Jackson.

“That does not mean individual people in this country are necessarily racist, but the system within which, say, the justice process operates is inherently racist and until we are willing to discuss that honestly, then I believe meaningful change cannot occur.”

Interview: The systems imposed “were racist ones” – lawyer Moana Jackson. (9:17)

23 Comments

  1. alloytoo

     /  16th April 2017

    um, doesn’t this argument cut both ways, by persistently ignoring crown law they are en mass in treaty breach.

  2. the one issue, that was only briefly mentioned; Police using ‘stop & search for drugs’ (mostly ‘I can smell cannabis’) as a excuse to arrest young people, but esp. maori.
    NZ still has amongst the highest arrest/incarceration rates for such offences, in the WORLD

    As long as ‘the system’ continues to have an eff. ZERO-tolerance approach, nothing will change. Prison should be the last option, not the first.. ‘drug use’ should be dealt with in the health system NOT criminal justice. 😦

    It currently costs about $100k/year to incarcerate a prisoner. Surely this would be better spent on: Education & treatment. rather than ‘lock ’em all up’ ?!

    • There needs to be a clear separation between using drugs (health issue) and pushing drugs, especially hard drugs (legal issue).

      • @PG
        you are correct.. BUT maybe its time to look to places like Colorado.. legal regulation/supply. Whilst it may not be perfect, it could remove most of the ‘supply chain’ from the criminal black-market/gangsters.
        The War on Drugs has been going for over 40 years & has effectively done nothing, but make criminals out of a large number of people who ‘choose to use’ alternatives, to Alcohol & Tobacco.
        just saying… its time for kiwis to grow up, on this issue 😦

      • Corky

         /  16th April 2017

        Why not make all drugs legal?

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  16th April 2017

    Mental illness and illiteracy are rife in prison populations and surely a huge contributor to re-offending. They need to be addressed regardless of race. The Waitangi tribunal is showing its inherent and offensive racism in restricting its advocacy to Maori.

    • Blazer

       /  16th April 2017

      apparantly Maori make up 50% of the prison population.This is hugely disproportionate and deserves…attention.

    • Corky

       /  16th April 2017

      It goes beyond that. They are talking arrant BS. I met Moana Jackson once. A more joyless individual I have not met.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  16th April 2017

        Bob Jones has a column in the NBR this week in which he says that when he meets someone the first thing he does is to test whether they have a sense of humour or not. If not he gets rid of them asap. I hadn’t consciously thought about it before but now I realise I pretty much do the same.

        • Corky

           /  16th April 2017

          Wise strategy, Alan. Humour covers many bases. Its something those who become passionate about certain causes seem to lose first. You never think of ‘Happy Greens”
          “Funny Muslims” and “Hardcase Lefties”

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  16th April 2017

            Not now, Corky, but Rod Donald and Mike Ward were always good for a chuckle. When the Greens turned Left with Norman and Bradford it all went sour.

  4. John Schmidt

     /  16th April 2017

    Here is a novel idea that I have used with huge success all my life. DON’T BREAK THE LAW.

    • Corky

       /  16th April 2017

      That’s radicle, Smiddy. You are light years behind the times.

    • Blazer

       /  16th April 2017

      couple that with…’I never tell lies’….and..

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  16th April 2017

      I’ve done stuff I’m not allowed to do many thousands of time in my life, almost always with good judgement and results. Don’t do bad stuff is my rule.

  5. Don’t get caught when you disobey the rule of not doing bad things in life.

    The real problem is in defining bad and good by considering what is acceptable. It is the latter that is changing. I do not believe our Maori youth are in prison for using social drugs or for minor traffic offences.

    They are in prison because their conduct has passed into the bad category from the acceptable because of the mix of violent conduct, excess alcohol, and inherited rejection of acceptable social norms – like “Once were Warriors” – and a failure to own up to the
    consequences of our behaviour.

    It is an immutable fact that we as individual adults have to accept responsibility for our own acts and behaviour. Do not blame others for your problems, because it is you, as a person, who has control of your body, no one else.

    • Gezza

       /  17th April 2017

      It’s the result of 3 generations of no proper education, no good place to really belong, no home of your own, no stake in any good community, poverty, exposure to violence & drugs & alcohol, being looked down on so being staunch, adolescent need to be someone, mental health & self-esteem problems, recruitment by gangs because they fill the voids, (literally) nothing better to do, prison, release back into that same environment, no hope of a better life. Moves are being made by government & some marae to try & deal with all these drivers.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  17th April 2017

        Some young visiting PoS king hit an elderly friend from behind on Saturday night, kicked him when he was down and left him without vision in one eye. I would happily drop this little creep in the sea with a good weight attached to his leg. I really don’t see the point of his life continuing.

        • Gezza

           /  17th April 2017

          Has he been arrested?

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  17th April 2017

            Not as far as I know. Bystanders stopped the attack and called the police but the old chap didn’t want to lay charges. He’s a knarly old fella. His partner told me about it, not him.

          • Gezza

             /  17th April 2017

            Unusual. The bluebottles can lay charges for a serious assailt causing injury where the victim doesn’t wish to do so.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th April 2017

              Yes, they may well do though if the witnesses were tourists they may not be around to give evidence when it gets around to trial. They also have to catch and identify the offenders. Catching probably isn’t too hard since they installed a number plate recognition and recording system on the only road in and out but they would need someone to stand up in court and say that’s him.

        • Blazer

           /  17th April 2017

          did you witness this incident?