Robson Speech: Kaumatua Get Greater Access To Pris
9 May 2002
Why It Makes Sense: Kaumatua Get Greater Access To Prisons
Mokoia Room, Millennium Hotel, Eruera Street, Rotorua.
Ki te Whare, tena koe.
Te Arawa Whanui, tena koutou.
rangatira me nga iwi,
te iti, te rahi, te katoa
Ki nga mate, moe mai, moe mai, moe mai,
tatou te hunga ora e hui hui nei
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.
I launch the new Kaiwhakamana policy today with the greatest of pride.
I have worked since last year to get a scheme up and running which would allow kaumatua greater access to Maori in prison.
Not because I want to add to the workload of your kaumatua, and not because I think it’s a nice idea.
But because I know it works.
Our best chance of reducing re-offending by Maori is to have Maori leaders taking a leadership role in our prisons.
We know that we are having success with Maori focus units.
Recent statistics show a drop of up to 10% in re-offending rates by Maori over the last year.
Re-imprisonment rates of Maori offenders have dropped from 32% to 27%.
Re-conviction rates have dropped from 55% to 45%.
I believe that drop in re-offending is largely due to the impressive work that is done in our Maori focus units across the country.
I have seen with my own eyes, hardenned criminals in these units who have turned their backs on the gangs and committed themselves instead to learning to speak Maori, to perform kapa haka, and to live according to tikanga Maori.
Of course we all know that when Maori inmates leave prison often the pressures to return to a criminal life are huge.
That is why the Kaiwhakamana policy is so important.
Kaumatua - both iwi and urban Maori leaders – can now play a vital role in that transition between the inside of a prison and the outside world.
I know that many of you do that anyway.
I know your work has too often gone unacknowledged.
Today I am here to tell you that we not only acknowledge what your kaumatua already do, we realise that it is our best chance of reducing Maori offending.
For that reason I want you to get the recognition in the prison system that you deserve.
I want you to know that when you assist the safe return of any Maori inmate to their community, you do it with the full support of this government and the Department of Corrections.
Your kaumatua will have the same standing and the same treatment as any Minister of the Crown who goes into our prisons.
I particularly look forward to receiving advice directly from Kaumatua on the provision of services to Maori.
It’s important that you have that direct line to me as Minister.
Kaumatua on the Kaiwhakamana policy will assist inmates with family relationships.
They will help re-integrate ex-offenders back into the community safely.
And they will have access to prisons across the country, during normal visiting hours and outside these hours by arrangement with prison management.
I know that Maori across the country have been asking for these sorts of provisions for many years.
This is a step in the right direction. We still have a long way to go. But I’m committed to the journey.
Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.