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Punishment is not the only answer

Punishment is not the only answer
Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party
Monday 4 February 2008

Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party, has today raised her concerns about the levels of anger being exhibited by some Local Government representatives about the ‘art crime’ of tagging.

“It is a pretty sad state of affairs when property is valued more than a life” said Mrs Turia. “Whilst tagging may well be annoying, to imply that graffiti automatically leads to a ‘criminal treadmill’ as Manukau Mayor Len Brown has, is not substantiated by any sound evidence to back up such a strong allegation”.

“But even more outrageous was the claim that Christchurch City councillor Barry Corbett made, recommending that the alleged murderer of a young fifteen year old tagger, should be set free, saying ‘I’d let him get away with it” said Mrs Turia.

“How can anyone who is meant to be in a position of authority, advocate that murder is an appropriate response to property crime?”

"Such views, along with publically expressed opinions that suggested it would have been appropriate to respond to tagging incidents by hospitalising the tagger, have left me feeling extremely concerned about the way in which some sectors of our community are normalising violence" said Mrs Turia.

“Where has our society come to, when the young potential represented by the members of a tagging subculture, are treated with such contempt?”

“While I am aware that the Government is wanting to introduce legislation to stop tagging and spring some new offences on to the law books, we must look beyond simply seeking to punish the offender as the only answer to all the issues in our community”.

“A restorative justice approach would look at a comprehensive campaign which includes taggers being given the responsibility of eradicating their own tagging alongside other initiatives such as education, anti-graffiti coatings, sensor lighting, and providing other opportunity for young people to express their social and political views in other ways”.

“Tagging dramatically alters our landscapes, it is about resistance, it is about alternative points of view” said Mrs Turia. “Some members of our community see that as a crime, other members see tagging as an expression of identity”.

“There are heaps of great local body projects existing in our community which look past the punitive and try to work with the young people of that community, to understand the tagging subculture” said Mrs Turia. "We should be looking to their leadership, for solutions".


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