Al Jazeera’s Documentary on Maori Gangs in NZ jails
For Immediate Release
Al Jazeera’s 101 East examines why Maori gangs are filling New Zealand’s jails Airing Friday 8 November at 11:30am NZST
101 East gets rare access inside New Zealand’s prisons and criminal underworld, investigating the reasons into how this peaceful South Pacific nation has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the western world.
In two decades the prison population has doubled in New Zealand and undeniably there is the gross overrepresentation of minorities in jails. One in two prisoners is indigenous Maori even though they only account for just 15% of the population. Many say going to prison has become normalised in Maori society because every child has a relative who is locked up.
It is also claimed that government agencies are failing the children of Maori prisoners, leaving them vulnerable to becoming a new generation of offenders.
Gang affiliations also play their part, providing surrogate families to disenfranchised youth. Since the 1960’s, young Maori have joined the ranks of patched gangs like the Mongrel Mob and Black Power who were modelled on US bikie gangs like the Hells Angels. Over the decades the gangs have been involved in violent crime, drug trafficking and brutal gang rapes.
Recently, the New Zealand prison system has introduced cultural units and innovative programs that try to connect Maori with their families instead of the gangs and to encourage prisoners to get back in touch with their cultural ancestry. But only half of the men in these units speak with their family and reestablishing that bond is not an easy task.
“Locked Up Warriors” will be airing on Al Jazeera’s 101 East Friday 8 November at 11:30 NZST.
· Al Jazeera airing times NZST:
o Friday 8 November at 11:30 am and 22:30 pm
o Saturday at 16.30 pm
o Monday at 5:30 am