Prisoners’ first names to be used and to be called ‘men in our care’

This from Stuff has prompted some strong reactions: Corrections to call prisoners ‘men in our care’ and refer to them by their first names, sources say

Corrections has begun calling prisoners “men in our care” in a move slammed by staff, according to well-placed sources.

Some officers are also being asked to address prisoners by their first names instead of their surnames, as was previously standard practice.

The raft of new terms also includes the te reo word paihere in lieu of prisoners, which in its noun form translates to “bundle”.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said the idea was to humanise people in prison and “uphold their mana”.

Davis said Corrections recently launched Hōkai Rangi, a strategy aimed at addressing Māori reoffending and imprisonment.

“The strategy is about ensuring we are doing everything we can to help people turn their lives around while they’re inside, and reduce reoffending when a prisoner is released, so we have fewer victims of crime and safer communities.”

One of the “key outcomes” of the strategy was to humanise and heal inmates, Davis said.

“An important part of that involves staff treating people with respect and dignity.

“For example, at some prisons staff now refer to prisoners by their first names. It’s such a simple but important change – and a great way to engage someone in prison and uphold their mana.”

We have a serious problem with high Māori  imprisonment. A different approach may make a difference.

But:

A source close to a major South Island prison said none of his Corrections colleagues were taking the change seriously.

“It’s nuts.”

“They obviously think it’s a bit of a joke.”

Another source, currently a senior Corrections officer, told Stuff he had previously been told to refer to prisoners as  “clients” rather than “offenders”.

“That was bad enough,” he said.

But he was stunned when a new direction came from top brass ordering staff to refer to prisoners as “paihere”.

Corrections Association of New Zealand president Alan Whitley was no fan of the new language brought in by management.

“They’re not in our care, they’re in our custody, our legal custody.”

David Farrar mocked it in Government can now claim we have zero prisoners and predictably it was slammed in comments as “politically correct bollocks”.

My initial reaction was eyebrows raised, but when I thought about it I wondered whether the views of bloggers and commenters mattered in this.

The key issue is whether it will reduce the chances of reoffending or not. I don’t know if these changes  are based on any evidence of a similar approach elsewhere or not, but given that our imprisonment and recidivism rates are appalling, a less dehumanising approach to most incarcerated men and women may be worth trying.

If you read past the initial reactions there is more explanation.

Topia Rameka is the recently appointed Deputy Chief Executive – Maori for the Department of Corrections.

He said the term paihere was mainly used to refer to prisoners at Tongariro Prison in the central North Island.

It was developed in 2016 in consultation with local iwi, Ngati Tuwharetoa, specifically for use at Tongariro, he said.

Pai refers to the “wellness action” while here is the gathering, learning and collection of knowledge, according to Corrections.

“The term was introduced to Tongariro Prison and staff were invited to use it if they wished to do so. While it was developed specifically for Tongariro Prison, staff at other sites have also chosen to adopt its use. If staff don’t wish to use the term, they don’t have to.

“Many staff at Tongariro Prison have also made the decision to call prisoners by their first names, with other sites following their lead.”

Rameka said the shift away from terms like “prisoner” and “offender” was in line with the Hōkai Rangi strategy for 2019-2024.

Part of the strategy was helping to build closer relationships with Māori, he said.

“While the strategy builds on many of the good things that we are doing to help rehabilitate and reintegrate people to reduce re-offending, it also outlines the need for us to provide a humanising and respectful environment that provides people with the skills and resilience needed to safely and successfully transition back into the community on release.”

PC snowflakes will get over it, or find other things to moan about.

It is important for our society that more are treated, rehabilitated and on release (and most are released) become law abiding citizens.

 

 

An attempt to address Māori reoffending rates launched

The biggest problem with Māori imprisonment levels is that too many Māori get involved in crime in the first place.

People identifying as Māori make up about 15% of the new Zealand population, but just over half of those in prison are Māori.

Ethnicity of Prisoners (March 2019)

However it is very difficult to deal with problems before they manifest themselves as criminal activities.  High recidivism rates are also a major problem.

Corrections: Re-imprisonment rates by ethnicity

The re-imprisonment rate over 48 months for Maori offenders (55%) is considerably higher than the rate for both NZ Europeans (45%) and Pacific offenders (36%).

graph-6

Overall recidivism rates are bad, but especially so for Māori

So the Government are trying to break the cycle of Māori reoffending and imprisonment with a new plan. It will take time to tell how effective it will be, but different ways of addressing the problem have to be tried to try and turn things around.

Announced yesterday:


A whānau-centred pathway to break the cycle of Māori reoffending

The Government has today announced it is taking action on the long-term challenge of Māori reoffending rates and delivering on its target to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent, with the creation of a new Māori Pathway at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison and Northland Region Corrections Facility.

This initiative will be co-designed and implemented by Māori, with Corrections, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) working together in partnership with hapū and iwi. It will initially focus on Māori men under 30 years of age, as this group has the highest reconviction and reimprisonment rates. The Pathway will enable people to experience a kaupapa Māori and whānau-centred approach for all of their time with Corrections, from pre-sentence to reintegration and transition in their community.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says the $98 million Wellbeing Budget investment is a major first step in changing the way Corrections operates to help break the cycle of Māori reoffending and imprisonment.

“We are acknowledging that our system does not work for the majority of Māori. The answer is not another programme. This is a new pathway for people in prison and their whānau to walk together. This is a system change and a culture change for our prisons – and that change starts today,” Kelvin Davis said.

“The Māori Pathway delivers on a number of our Government’s priorities. It’s about reducing reoffending so there are fewer victims of crime, building closer partnerships with Māori, and enabling us to keep delivering on our target to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent.

“This is a great example of the Wellbeing approach in action, with a number of agencies working together to target long-term change.”

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare acknowledges his colleagues Kelvin Davis and Carmel Sepuloni for being bold and taking a whānau-centred approach to their mahi.

“This is real progress towards incorporating Whānau Ora into their portfolios and agencies, extending Government support and buy-in to the Whānau Ora approach, as recommended by Tipu Mātoro ki te Ao,” Peeni Henare said.

“Whānau Ora successfully supports positive outcomes for whānau because it recognises the power of the collective and promotes self-determination. It is a holistic and strengths-based approach, allowing whānau to define and work towards their own aspirations. This is an important step for Government to improve whānau wellbeing.”

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says MSD is committed to supporting the person and their whānau to achieve their goals.

“This is an exciting initiative which aligns with recommendations in the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s report to improve outcomes for Māori and enhance support for people in prisons,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Tamaki threatens to cause prison revolts

A war of words is escalating between Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis and head of Destiny Church Brian Tamaki, with Tamaki threatening to cause “inmates in every prison” if his ManUp programme isn’t allowed in prisons.

This morning at Newsroom: Davis knocks down Destiny’s ‘Man Up’ programme

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has stamped out any hope Brian Tamaki may have held of winning government funding to deliver his Man Up programme in prisons.

The Destiny Church founder has been vocal about what he says is the success of the 15-week programme to help “dysfunctional” men with a record of violent offending and addiction.

Tamaki has repeatedly criticised the Government for not funding him to deliver his programme in New Zealand prisons, despite never making a formal application as part of the Corrections tender process.

In December last year, Tamaki marched on Parliament with about 2000 supporters, talking about the high rates of Māori recidivism and touting his programme as a way to reduce Māori reoffending and incarceration rates.

“For all of my efforts to try and get into prison, they shut us down,” he said, referring to the Government.

Davis said there was no verified, independent research showing the programme has achieved success, and lashed out at Tamaki, calling his claims duplicitous.

He said that, despite what Tamaki claims, Man Up has never been shut out of prisons, and has never followed the proper application process.

Tamaki seems to be fighting an ongoing battle to get Man Up into prisons, and has had varying degrees of success with delivering ad hoc volunteer information services over the years.

But while Davis is the corrections minister, it seems unlikely Man Up will receive any formal government contract to administer its programme.

“Why would Corrections allow a group talking about waging war on society, into a prison,” Davis said, in reference to comments made by Tamaki in the wake of the Christchurch attack.

Davis also said Tamaki had been duplicitous in painting himself as the victim, during the “circus” on Parliament’s forecourt late last year.

“If they’re going to lie about the small stuff, how am I going to trust them with the big stuff?”

Later in the morning:

Davis (@NgatiBird) responded:

Calls for more than handouts for Māori

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Development minister Shane Jones have preceded Waitangi Day celebrations with announcements of hundreds of millions of dollars in development grants, but this approach has been questioned and in some cases slammed – see National leader Simon Bridges urges RMA reform over $100m for Māori land ownership

NZ Herald editorial: Handouts are no substitute for a Ngapuhi Treaty settlement

The Prime Minister is doling out a great deal of money on her extended visit to Northland for Waitangi Day.

At a Kaipara marae on Sunday she announced $100 million of the Government’s $1 billion provincial growth fund will be set aside as capital for Māori developments.

Yesterday at Mangatoa Station near Kaikohe she announced $82m from the fund will be used to set up regional training and employment “hubs”, and a further $20m from the fund will go to establishing regional digital “hubs” to help small towns and marae get internet connections.

In two days, with Regional Development Minister Shane Jones at her elbow, they have committed about a fifth of the original fund which is already depleted by some grants of dubious value he made last year.

While the projects announced at the weekend will be spread around a number of regions Northland is one of the most needy, which is why successive governments have been working so hard to try to help Ngapuhi get organised for a Treaty settlement.

After a year of trying, Justice Minister Andrew Little seems to be no closer than previous ministers came to finding a bargaining partner all Ngapuhi hapu will accept.

Now the Government seems to be giving handouts instead.

The Government may be right that Māori land is the underdeveloped asset that can provide those parts with more wealth. But providing seed capital is the easy part. It has to do much more to ensure the seedlings are not mulched.

Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom):  Ardern’s Waitangi sequel a test of relationship

Heading to what has traditionally been a tempestuous occasion for prime ministers, Jacinda Ardern’s Waitangi debut in 2018 went about as well as she could have hoped.

While Waitangi Day organising committee chairman Pita Paraone believes Ardern will receive a similar reception this year, he suggests there may be “a bit of murmuring” from Māori over some areas of discontent.

There has always been murmurings of discontent at Waitangi.

Matthew Tukaki, chairman of the National Māori Authority, agrees there will be plenty of expectation from Māori for the Government to deliver on its many promises.

“We’ve had a year of inquiries, we’ve had a year of investigations … 2019 for this Government must be the year of action.”

Many of the issues prioritised by Māori are the same as for the wider population: Paraone mentions mental health and housing, while Tukaki talks about high suicide and unemployment rates.

Tukaki says there is value in “universal principles that guide your waka”, but argues that is not enough: it must be supported by targeted reform and policies to succeed.

Solutions will not come in the form of short-term fixes, he says, but a longer-term vision that can be sustained over years or decades.

The handouts look to be more short term political fixes, or attempted fixes, but fundamental problems remain.

“For too long, government agencies and offices and ministries have been working on solutions and then saying to Māori, ‘Here’s a solution to whatever problem’,” (Labour MP and deputy Prime Minister) Kelvin Davis says.

Like “here’s some money”.

“Really what we need to say is, here’s a problem, how do we work on a solution together so it actually meets the needs of the people who we’re working for?”

There is a lot of work to do there, more than meeting a next year holding to account deadline that Ardern seems to be trying to address.

Māori will be looking to the future too, and whether Ardern’s government can deliver on its promises: perhaps with an added degree of wariness, but also hope.

They will be hoping for more from Ardern and her Government.

 

Waitangi – inclusion, protest and handouts

It is to be expected that there there will be some sort of protests and attention seeking leading up to or on Waitangi Day. That is sort of a tradition. If there are protests the media will be on to them – they can sometimes dominate coverage, even though they are only a small part of proceedings.

Inclusiveness has been promoted in the form of earpieces for politicians so they can hear translations of speeches (presumably the ones spoken in Māori).

NZ Herald: Changes for official powhiri at Waitangi

For the first time, politicians and dignitaries will be given earpieces to hear the translated words of their hosts during the official welcome to Waitangi next week.

The powhiri was until recently held at Ti Tii Marae. It was moved over concerns the event had become a “circus” and moved to Te Whare Runanga on the upper marae at the Treaty Grounds.

The idea was that of Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis, who has also introduced changes to the way the powhiri on February 5 is conducted.

“We’re trying to build on the good atmosphere that was generated last year, and the idea is to return dignity and decorum to proceedings,” Davis told the Weekend Herald.

“In previous years, whoever was the government would go on and be bolstered by officials and CEs and there’d be a big jostle for position, and the Opposition was just left to fend for themselves at a later powhiri.”

All parties had agreed to go on as one group this year for one parliamentary powhiri.

“We’ve organised the simultaneous translation earpieces for everybody. It’s about being inclusive and I think it’s the way New Zealand needs to head, where everybody understands what everyone’s saying so we don’t talk past each other,” said Davis.

“It’s a small thing but I think it means a lot to those people who in the past felt excluded. We want to celebrate New Zealand’s day, and it all started here in Waitangi.”

John Key stopped going to Waitangi events after 2015, and Bill English chose not to go while national leader, but Simon Bridges has decided to attend.

“I think every leader has to make their own decision. For me, it’s my first opportunity as leader to do it. I’m really keen to and I’m looking forward to it. It’s our country’s day. The Treaty of Waitangi is so clearly part of the fabric of New Zealand and it recognises the special place of Māori in our bicultural foundations.”

Jacinda Ardern will be leading a large Labour delegation, with most of their MPs attending. Last year she was the first female prime minister to speak during the powhiri, where she said:

“When we return in one year, in three years, I ask you to ask us what we have done for you”.

This year she and Shane Jones have announced $100 million investment to support Māori landowners and drive regional growth

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest up to $100 million to help unlock the economic potential of whenua Māori and build prosperity in our regions, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced today.

“An integral part of any inclusive and successful regional economic development strategy lies with supporting Māori landowners to create new opportunities that will lift incomes and the wellbeing of our regions,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Access to capital remains a challenge for Māori landowners as the special status of their land means commercial banks are less willing to lend to them. I’m pleased that through the PGF, we’re in a unique position to be able to support these landowners.

“Funding will enable Māori to access the capital required to progress projects which are investment-ready and will ultimately support moves towards higher-value land use.”

“I’m proud we’re able to make this announcement today, which is a vital step in creating greater prosperity around New Zealand,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and other ministers joined the Prime Minister at Otamatea Marae in the Kaipara district to make the announcement.

“Supporting Māori economic development is a key focus of the Provincial Growth Fund.  That’s because lifting the productivity of Māori land will have enormous benefits for regional economies and it is an opportunity we cannot afford to ignore,” Shane Jones said

And Labour cannot afford not to promote Government handouts.

Also Investing to kick-start key infrastructure in Kaipara

The Government will help pave the way for future economic growth in Kaipara with a $20.39m investment from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to strengthen the district’s transport infrastructure and food and horticulture sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones made the announcement at Otamatea Marae in Kaipara today.

”There has been a long history of underinvestment in Northland, particularly in infrastructure. The Government is absolutely committed to investing in the public services and infrastructure that make our country and communities strong,” Jacinda Ardern said.

On the inclusive front, Don Brash gets to have a say at Waitangi again: Hobson’s Pledge spokesman Don Brash to speak at Waitangi

Former politician Don Brash has been invited to speak at the lower marae at Waitangi, where he was once pelted with mud by protesters angry at his infamous Orewa speech.

Brash, who was at the time the National Party leader, was hit in the face as he spoke to reporters at Waitangi in 2004, just a few days after the speech to Orewa Rotarians in which he railed against special treatment of Māori.

He is now spokesman for Hobson’s Pledge, a group which campaigns against racial separatism or favouritism under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Also: Destiny Church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki to speak at Waitangi event

A battle of the Bishops is shaping up at Waitangi this week between Destiny Church’s Bishop Brian Tamaki and Te Tai Tokerau Anglican Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu who will be holding services at the same time at different locations.

The official Waitangi Day Anglican service is held at 10am at Te Whare Rūnanga on the Treaty Grounds.

At the same time, Tamaki will be speaking at Te Tii Marae. He is bringing with him around 2000 supporters, many of them the Tu Tangata Riders.

Reuben Taipari, who has organised the forum tent at Te Tii, where speakers including Don Brash will appear this year, said he had invited Tamaki to speak there but the invitation had been declined.

“Now that the forum’s full, of course, I think he regrets that he’s not participating. So his idea is to call up his own facility and attract all the attention over there. And I’m sure that he’ll get some. So good luck to him.

So there should be plenty for the media to report on.

Waitangi Day is on Wednesday. It is a big day for Māori in the far north, and also for politicians. There will be other less prominent events around the country.

 

Destiny Church demands access to prisons, Ministers respond

Brian Tamaki and his Destiny Church had a rally at Parliament demanding access to prisons with two programmes they have developed, but Tamaki has been told to go through the normal channels and make a formal application, and Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis has made pointed response.

RNZ: Destiny Church rallies at Parliament for access to prisons

An estimated 2000 Destiny Church supporters rallied at Parliament this afternoon demanding access to prisons for their rehabilitation programmes, and millions of dollars in funding.

The leader of the church, Brian Tamaki, says his Man Up and Legacy programmes have helped hundreds of people turn their lives around, many of whom have spent years in the criminal justice system.

Man Up’s website describes the 15-week programme as a link to a ‘brotherhood’, which helps men identify and understand issues in their lives, and work through them for a more stable future.

The Corrections Department said it had never received a formal application from Destiny Church to deliver Man Up or Legacy in prisons.

The Justice Minister Andrew Little said the church had also never applied for funding.

“I’m not trying to point the finger of blame here, let’s just understand what it is that the issues are for [Mr Tamaki] and his Man Up programme and let’s see if we can pull something together which helps the government achieve its objectives which is reducing family violence and reducing the number of folks going to prison.”

The Employment Minister Willie Jackson said if the Destiny Church went through the proper channels then they could be able to get into prisons and get the funding they needed.

“I think that’s the problem here is that they actually haven’t gone through a formal process in terms of applications, so let’s see what they come up with.”

Brian Tamaki however appeared unwilling to play ball.

“Go through the channels? Well how come the Prime Minister can assign $30 million without even consulting to the Papua New Guinean Government and they misused it, and they have billions of dollars for pine trees and I’m talking about just a little bit of money for people.”

“I’ve been waiting for 20 years and I’m doing the business without taxpayers’ money.”

I guess tithing is different to taxing.

Kelvin Davis responded:

Tamaki says that not allowing his programmes to be used in prisons is a breach of human rights and a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi. He insists he has applied to have them be used.

 

Should the government take care of people, or enable people to take care of themselves?

Or both to varying degrees?

Is there a natural progression of community and care (for some) from whanaua to hapu to iwi – to Government?

Everyone wants health care provided, and education, a protective police force and a bunch of other things. And many people like financial assistance and housing assistance, if not to be fully provided for.

Richard Harman raised this in his coverage of Labour’s conference in the weekend:

The most eloquent outline to the conference of what that might be came not from her  but from her deputy party leader, Kelvin Davis.

He said that the Labour party was in government to take care of people.

“As a government, we are not only changing policy and legislation,” he said.

“We are changing the way we see ourselves as a country.”

The same idea; that this was a government that was changing things ran through a speech from Finance Minister, Grant Robertson.

From Kelvin Davis’ Speech to the 2018 Labour Party Conference:

We are tackling many hard issues as a government. Housing, child poverty, prison numbers, climate change, improving the wellbeing of our country. None of the answers are easy. But we know taking on these challenges is the right thing to do.

Because, unlike the other lot, when we talk about eradicating child poverty, helping those whanau that are struggling the most, we are not just talking about percentages, headlines and numbers on a spreadsheet.

Poverty has a face. It has names.

We are talking about our neighbours, our friends, our whanau.

And that is what sets a Labour Government apart from the rest.

In the end we are in Government to take care of people

From Grant Robertson’s Speech to the 2018 Labour Party Conference:

Next month the Treasury will release its first Living Standards Dashboard.  This will show a range of indicators of our current wellbeing as a nation.  It includes the tangible, like incomes and home ownership, but also the intangible like life satisfaction and cultural wellbeing.  It is a work in progress.  We need to make sure it is truly reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand, and all that makes us unique. It will evolve over the coming years. But it is a great start to a new way of thinking about what counts as success.

How much should the Government provide for the wellbeing of New Zealanders?

Moreover, people voted for Labour because they knew that we cared about them, we were part of the community and they trusted us to look out for their families.

Is the Labour Party a part of a caring community? Should the Government be seen as a caring benefactor? To some extent that’s expected. The question is, how much?

Some people want the Government to intervene and to provide for them, they want the Government to help them and care for them.

Others want the Government to keep out of their lives as much as possible, to not interfere, to be a provider of health, education and services in the background only.

We can’t avoid the Government having a major effect on all of our lives, through tax gathering, provision of infrastructure and services. Those of us who survive to 65 get universal superannuation for the rest of our lives.

No one argues against having prisons for those who offend against the wellbeing of others.

Some people need more care than others, Some are genuinely disadvantaged through illness and disability. Their families and caregivers deserve some assistance.

How much should the Government care for the people? Of course we hope that politicians care, but how much care should they actually provide? We don’t pay enough tax to enable the Government to provide the care that people want.

To an extent it is a question of how much we want the Government to be a visible and engaged provider or care, or whether they making things available with a more background role.

Many of us have moved to a more satellite self sufficient society, but some want more provided.

Perhaps there are different cultural expectations. Do Maori (generally) expect the Government to be a more community engaged caregiver? They may think that there’s a natural progression from whanau to hapu to iwi to Government.

That’s quite different to how I see things. That doesn’t mean one is right or wrong, just that there are widely varying needs and expectations.

Should Government be the umbrella caregiver?

Action announced for “a noticeable improvement in water quality”

The quality of rain water in New Zealand is pretty much pristine, but after it falls and flows past our towns and through our farms and industries it deteriorates, sometimes to an alarming degree.

The is probably near universal support for improving the quality of water in our creeks and rivers, lakes, inlets and lagoons, and on our beaches.

Actually water quality does not need to be improved so much as degradation needs to be drastically reduced.

Aims are a bit vague – “promising a noticeable improvement in water quality within five years” – but should be widely supported.

Minister of the Environment David Parker:


Taking action to improve water quality

The Government today is announcing its next steps to improve the state of our waterways, promising a noticeable improvement in water quality within five years.

“Clean water is our birthright. Local rivers and lakes should be clean enough for our children to swim in, and put their head under, without getting crook,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

“There will be a focus on at-risk catchments so as to halt the decline. We’re not going to leave the hard issues for future generations.”

David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today released the Government’s blueprint to improve freshwater quality. It also sets out a new approach to the Māori/Crown relationship that will acknowledge Māori interests in fair access to water to develop their land.

“New Zealanders value our rivers and lakes. More than 80 per cent are committed to improving water quality for the benefit of future generations and they want central and local government, farmers and businesses to do more,” David Parker said at a function in Parliament to launch the new work programme.

“New rules will be in place by 2020 to stop the degradation of freshwater quality – a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and a new National Environmental Standard.

“The rules will include controls on the excesses of some intensive land use practices. Our remaining wetlands and estuaries will be better protected.

“We will drive good management practices on farms and in urban areas.”

“We are also amending the Resource Management Act to enable regional councils to more quickly implement water quality and quantity limits,” David Parker said.

“We know Māori share the same interests as the rest of New Zealand in improving water quality and ensuring fair access to water resources.”

Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis, said both Māori and the Crown are committed to Te Mana o te Wai.

“We are committed to a substantive discussion on how to address Maori interests, by taking practical steps to address constraints on Māori land development.”

David Parker said the Government’s approach to solving these issues is engaging leading New Zealanders who care about our freshwater – environmental NGOs, Māori, farming leaders, scientists, Regional Council experts and others.

“Already, we are working with the primary sector and regional councils in the most at-risk catchments. I recently visited the Aparima River in Southland where the farming community is leading a project to get all 600 land managers in the catchment following better farming practices.”

Alongside work to tackle climate change, reduce waste, and protect our natural biodiversity, today’s release of the freshwater work programme shows this Government is determined to protect our environment for future New Zealanders.

Damien O’Connor said New Zealanders all agree our natural resources must be used wisely.

“Primary sectors are crucial to an environmentally-sustainable, high-value economy that supports the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. This is why we must grow a sustainable and productive primary sector within environmental limits.

“Many in the sector are already working hard to protect the natural resources they depend on, and recognise the importance of enhancing our reputation as a trusted producer of the finest food and fibre products. The workstreams set out today recognise the importance of accelerating this good work.”

The documents Essential Freshwater Agenda and Shared interests in Freshwater can be read on the Ministry for the Environment website at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/fresh-water/essential-freshwater-agenda

Targeted action and investment in at-risk catchments, including accelerating the implementation of Good Farming Practice Principles and identifying options for tree planting through the One Billion Trees programme.

A new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management by 2020, to ensure all aspects of ecosystem health are managed, and address risks, for example by providing greater direction on how to set limits on resource use, and better protection of wetlands and estuaries.

A new National Environmental Standard for Freshwater Management by 2020, to regulate activities that put water quality at risk, such as intensive winter grazing, hill country cropping and feedlots.

Amendments to the Resource Management Act within the next 12 months to review consents in order to more quickly implement water quality and quantity limits; and to strengthen enforcement tools for improving environmental compliance.

Decisions on how to manage allocation of nutrient discharges, informed by discussion and engagement with interested parties.

Involvement of interested parties in testing and advising on policy options through a network of advisory groups; Kahui Wai Māori, the Science and Technical Advisory Group, and the Freshwater Leaders Group.


See also: Freshwater plan to explore Māori and Crown shared interests

The Government plan announced today to improve freshwater quality acknowledges that water quality cannot be addressed without a concurrent and substantive discussion with Māori, Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis said

Māori Crown agency to be established

An announcement yesterday from Kelvin Davis, Minister of Crown/Māori Relations:


Cabinet has approved the final scope of the Māori Crown portfolio and agreed to establish an agency to oversee Government’s work with Māori in a post-settlement era, announced Crown/ Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis today.

“The agency, to be called the Office for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti, will help facilitate the next step in the Treaty relationship – moving beyond the settlement of Treaty grievances into what it means to work together in partnerships,” Kelvin Davis said.

“The name reflects feedback from the hui that Māori should appear first in the relationship. Te Arawhiti, refers to the transition phase we are in, that is ‘the bridge’ between Māori and the Crown.

“Several other Government units and offices will be consolidated into the agency, including the Crown/Māori Relations Unit, the Office of Treaty Settlements, the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Team and the Settlement Commitments Unit. The consolidation will bring a sharper focus and efficiency to the Government’s work with Māori.”

In addition to finishing Treaty Settlements and Marine and Coastal Area applications, the new agency, based on the new scope of the Māori Crown portfolio, will provide strategic leadership across the public sector to:

  • ensure the Crown meets its Treaty obligations;
  • develop a new engagement model and guidelines for the Government and public sector;
  • co-design partnerships, principles and frameworks to ensure that agencies generate the best solutions to issues affecting Māori;
  • ensure public sector capability is strengthened across the board;
  • provide a cross Government view on the health of the Māori Crown partnerships;
  • provide strategic leadership on contemporary Treaty issues;
  • other matters including the constitutional and institutional arrangements supporting partnerships between the Crown and Māori: and
  • continue to take the lead in organising significant Māori and Crown events, ie Waitangi Day.

“While there are still some Treaty grievances to settle, I heard from many Māori how they want to engage with the Crown on a range of issues that look to the future.

“Together, Māori and the Crown want this portfolio to be about aspiration, and looking forward, in the post-settlement era,” Kelvin Davis said

Davis claims that prisoner numbers have reduced by 600

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has claimed that prisoner numbers have reduced by 600 in an interview yesterday on Newshub Nation. If this is true that would be a remarkable turnaround on recent forecasts.

Recently published projections, which show a prison population of 10,308 for 2017.

RNZ (2 July 2018): Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis changes inmate forecast comments

Mr Davis said since January, growth in the prison population was tracking below the forecast for the first time “in a very long time”. There were now 10,500 people in prison, a fall of 300 since March.

Mr Davis has previously said the government aimed to reduce the prison population by 30 percent over 15 years, to around 7000.

That suggests that prisoner numbers peaked at 10,800 in March, and had decreased by 300 by July.

On Wednesday (22 August) RadioLive reports in ‘This is personal for me’: Kelvin Davis on Maori prison stats

There are 10,235 prisoners in our jails, down from 10,800 in March.

That’s 565 down on the Match peak.

Davis on the Nation yesterday:

The facts are that the prison forecast had us at about 11,500 by the end of the year. We’re now at 10,200. Since March, the prison population has reduced from 10,800. So, there’s work that we’re doing just to streamline processes within the system that are actually having a positive effect on the prison population.

Well, we’ve reduced the prison population by 600 in six months…

Well, what I’m saying is that Corrections is doing a fantastic job. It has done a fantastic job already. We’ve only been in government less than a year, and we’ve managed to defy the projections, and we’re a thousand below where they— where we’re told that they would be.

Corrections have put on their thinking caps. We’ve already got the High Impact Innovation Programme that is having a significant benefit. It’s reducing the prison numbers…

We’re actually defying the odds. We’re defying the forecast. We’re defying the projections, and the prison population is actually reducing, and we’re doing it safely.

If accurate, this is a remarkable turnaround.

Andrew Little on Q&A last weekend (19 August 2018):

We’ve had this massive increase of the number of people in our prisons, we’ve got more people serving longer prison sentences, our average prison sentence has increased by something like twenty percent over the last few years.

Sixty percent of those in prison will reoffend within two years of release…

Nearly 40% of those in prison have a mental health problem like depression or anxiety.
Nearly 50% have an addiction problem.

Little’s focus is on helping and treating people while in prison so they are less likely to offend after they are released. That has been asked for for years.

We’ve been putting more and more people into prison and for longer…

It’s not right that we’ve had this thirty percent increase in our prison population in just the last five years, that’s not right, that tells you there’s something wrong. It’s not right that we’ve doubled those remanded in custody just in the last five years.

He means that’s not good, not that it isn’t correct.

But it seems odd that in an interview focussing on dire imprisonment statistics and the need for better treatment of problems and better rehabilitation, there was no mention of prisoner numbers being reduced.

So what about Davis’ claim? From the Department of Corrections prisoner population as at 31 March 2018 (the latest published information):

  • Remand prisoners 3,316
  • Sentenced prisoners 7,329
  • TOTAL PRISONERS 10,645

That’s less than the 10,800 that Davis claimed, and he has given variations on the latest numbers so the exact numbers are unclear.

However if they have reduced over the last five months that is good progress. It would be good to have this clarified.

How is this being achieved? Davis referred to the oddly named High Impact Innovation Programme. From Corrections ‘Our Priorities’:

  • The High Impact Innovation Programme will enhance opportunities for offenders to access electronic bail and home detention options.

Home Detention is a sentence so that is decided by courts (judges). Have they been encouraged to choose Home Detention more? Electronic Bail also sounds like a court decision.

The above numbers show that there are a huge number remand prisoners (as at 31 March), and according to Little that has doubled in the last five years, so is an obvious target in trying to reduce prisoner numbers. Little also said that most imprisoned on remand don’t get prison sentences.

A risk is that, probably inevitably, a person on bail will commit a high profile crime and that will have (some of) the public and some lobby groups and some politicians baying for more imprisonment.

So there are tricky challenges for Little.

As for the reduced prisoner numbers claimed by Davis, which range from 600 (a number he quoted) to 410 (another number he quoted plus an official Corrections number.

However any reduction is good, especially given the forecast increases – until someone on bail or on early release probation does something horrific. It is a difficult balancing act – the need to balance risks.