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Council Action is 'ethnic targetting'

Thursday 3 August 2006

Waiariki MP, Te Ururoa Flavell,

Describes Rotorua District Council Action as 'ethnic targetting'

Local MP for Rotorua, fears that the latest actions by Rotorua District Council to ban repeat offenders from its central business district will result in 'ethnic targetting'. In the United States, and throughout Europe, there has been a movement to challenge the racial and ethnic profiling that has been seen with police using 'race' as a proxy for criminality.

"In Aotearoa, we know that Mäori are significantly over represented in apprehension, prosecution and conviction statistics" said Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki. "So it goes without saying, that Maori in Rotorua will be significantly affected by the decision of the Council".

"Although Corrections does not report data by geographic regions, we do know that on a national basis Maori are reconvicted of offending within twelve months of release at a higher rate (47%) than European (40%), or Pacific (27%). They are also imprisoned at a higher rate than others".

"Given these statistics, we would have thought the first step the Council would have done would be to talk with the whanau, hapu and iwi of Te Arawa" said Mr Flavell.

"The Te Arawa Standing Committee, of the Council will no doubt need to speak with the whanau throughout Te Arawa, before any decisions can be made" said Mr Flavell.

"It interests me that Rotorua is often promoted as being the first area in the country to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Police (May 1999) to "commit Police and Maori to work together to find solutions".

"And yet here we have the local council taking on the role of the police, but without any evidence of consulting tangata whenua, who stand to be most affected by the ban".

"Our people will also respect the views of the human rights lawyers and criminologists who have given the proposal the thumbs down" said Mr Flavell.

"The issues involved with street crime need to be worked out together" said Mr Flavell. "Ideally, we need solutions to come from the people themselves, rather than the rash decision to turn the streets of Rotorua into a no-go zone for certain people....and we all know who those people will be".

"I wonder....is Rotorua going to become a mini police state?"

"Clearly, the influence of a vigilante type mentality - as we have seen in the so-called Guardian Angels - is starting to take hold within the chambers of the Rotorua District Council. The people who stand to get picked up, have already done the time - now they're sentenced to life as an outcast in their own home".

ENDS

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