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Minister's Answers Show Govt Fearful

18 October 2004

“Answers today in the House, by Police Minister, George Hawkins, demonstrate that this Labour Government is so fearful of the Maori Party that it will do everything it possibly can do to undermine not only the party but also the individuals involved in it” stated co-leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia.

“In responding to the question as to why Dr Pita Sharples had been asked to stand down from his advisory role to the New Zealand Police, George Hawkins blatantly stated it was due to ‘his political involvement’ and later confirmed that in his opinion, the police had acted correctly.

Dr Pita Sharples, has had extensive involvement with the New Zealand Police, in over 32 years of volunteer work. Dr Sharples has played a key role in the Mâori Focus Forum which was established to promote initiatives aimed at reducing Mâori representation in the criminal justice sector and improving Police relationships with Mâori.

Some of his particular initiatives include support for new ventures between Maori communities and the police in response to the 1999 report revealing levels of racism in the Police force; proposals for marae justice, as a means of restorative justice; liaison with the major gangs on matters of health and safety; Establishing a methamphetamine roadshow with Maori liaison police officers and Maori communities Patua Te Ngangara (Battling the Devil).

“It is an outrage, that Labour is unable to respect the professionalism, the loyalty and dedicated commitment that Dr Sharples, a renown academic and inspired Maori leader, has given to the Police Commissioner and the Department over more than three decades of service” said Mrs Turia. “What is even more of concern at this point of time, is that we are possibly a year out from a General Election, and yet Labour, appears to be targeting Maori Party members, one by one, and removing them from any positions of responsibility”.

The Electoral Act makes it quite clear that if public servants are intending to stand for election to Parliament they must take leave from their job for a period before the election, at least between Nomination Day and Polling Day.

“In the case of Dr Sharples: He is not a public servant (he is a Professor of Education at Auckland University) He has not been announced as a candidate for election to Parliament; An election has not been called.

Yet despite these factors, he appears to have been treated in a partisan way, as revealed in the answers by the Minister of Police today”.

ENDS

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