Maori crime and imprisonment statistics are horrendous.
‘One law for all’ sounds impressive in theory but in reality some laws are unequally applied.
If Maori crime was successfully addressed to a significant extent then crime and prison statistics could improve markedly.
Tony Wright at Newshub: History’s role in understanding Māori prison rates
Last weekend I published an article entitled ‘Why are so many Māori in prison?’
The article took an historical view of Māori poverty using the expertise and knowledge of historian Vincent O’Malley and Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox.
Although we don’t allow comments on the Newshub website – particularly for such an emotive and divisive article – I forgot to take into account the flurry of comments that would come through later on the Newshub Facebook page.
It was obvious some posters had simply read the headline and hadn’t bothered to read the article, but many had, and some of the comments were very interesting.
One main theme that came through was one of historical ignorance:
“Why blame century old injustices to Māori for their plight today?” was a common post.
Intergenerational poverty and welfare dependence has had a direct effect on Māori crime rates. This is fact. You cannot deny it.
And it has had a major negative effect.
In a perfect New Zealand, Māori wouldn’t be on the wrong end of crime, poverty, and poor health statistics. The sad fact is that they are, and shockingly so.
Remember that Māori make up 14.6 percent of New Zealand’s population, but over 50 percent of the prison population.
All Kiwis need to be concerned about that statistic; it’s blight on our country and the end product of a social situation that simply isn’t working for Māori.
Not all Maori, but too many Maori, and this impacts on all of us through crime and costs through things like prisons.
Should New Zealand have a separate justice system for Māori?
A common theme posted was this: “We’re all Kiwis and we should all be treated the same, regardless of race.”
If you look closely at the New Zealand justice system you’ll soon realise Māori aren’t treated the same as everyone else.
As Ms Fox told me: “Māori are three times as likely to be incarcerated for the same crime as non-Māori, and you’re three times as likely to be incarcerated for longer periods for the same crime as non-Māori.”
Does this read as being treated the ‘same’ to you?
Newshub will be looking further into the high incarceration rates of Māori because it’s a major issue and one that’s often misunderstood within New Zealand society.
I believe we first have to first address it, and then seriously look at ways of improving it.
If we can’t at least do that, then what kind of society are we?
If Maori social problems, Maori education problems, Maori family problems, Maori crime and Maori imprisonment rates are successfully addressed then we will all benefit, and we will have a better country.
A different approach is needed, because what is happening now is a disgraceful failure.