Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Flavell speaks out about institutional racism

GENERAL DEBATE SPEECH; Parliament Buildings Wellington
9 April 2014 4pm

Flavell speaks out about institutional racism in the justice system

Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Tēnā koutou katoa.

Yesterday I was giving a statement to the media and it went something along the lines of: the justice system we have in Aotearoa is flawed, for many Māori it is unfair, it is biased, it is filled with prejudice, and there is institutional racism in the justice system of this country that spans across the entire system, from the police to the courts to corrections. How do we know?

Well, the United Nations recently released a report urging authorities here to address the disproportionately negative statistics that impact on Māori from the criminal justice legislation extending sentences or reducing probation or parole. We know because international reports tell us that it is institutionally racist. We know because umpteen reports written here at home base tell us that that so, and all we have to do is look at the statistics. Māori are 15 percent of the population, yet we are 50 percent of the prison population. That is a disgrace and we have got to do something about it.

But it is not just the proportion of prisoners who are Māori, it is the proportion of Māori who are actually prisoners. For Māori males born in 1975 it is estimated that 22 percent had a corrections managed sentence—that is, both custodial sentences and community based sentences—before their 20th birthday and that 44 percent had a corrections managed sentence by the age of 35. This means that virtually every Māori whānau in the country will have someone who has been labelled a criminal. That is unacceptable to the Māori Party.

We can say that Māori are four to five times more likely to be apprehended, prosecuted, and convicted than non-Māori counterparts and in the case of Māori aged between 10 and 13 this is six times more likely. Māori are seven times more likely to be given a custodial sentence and 11 times more likely to be remanded in custody awaiting trial. It costs $90,000 to keep a prisoner in prison. It costs $1 billion to run the Department of Corrections. That is simply crazy.

I want to draw a sort of local example, because they are easy to talk about. Following the apprehension for crime, the percentage of Māori who are prosecuted is far higher than for the percentage of non-Māori who are prosecuted. For the same crimes Māori are arrested at three times the rate of non-Māori, and here is the example. In the Waiariki electorate there were two similar examples that resulted in two vastly different outcomes. In one incident a Pākehā offender was in a boating accident that caused the death of an acquaintance. This person was discharged without conviction and ordered to pay a fine to St John Ambulance. In the other incident, two young Māori boys were involved in a jet ski accident, resulting in the death of a friend. They were both convicted even though they had participated in a restorative justice process and were close friends of the victim. This conviction will now hang over them for the rest of their lives.

The Tūhoe raids signalled serious flaws in how the police dealt with Māori communities and, thankfully, the police have moved to deal with that, having acknowledged that there were serious flaws in that. And, of course, the foreshore and seabed bill introduced by the Labour Government some years ago—it also acknowledged some serious flaws there. So it is not just about acknowledging that those are there; we have got to do something about it.

For our part, for the Māori Party part, it is that we need to try to keep people out of prison, out of the system, and get them back into the communities. We have raised a number of times through the media the need to look at a system-wide review and the United Nations has supported this by also recommending a review of the degree of inconsistencies and systematic bias against Māori at the different levels of the justice system.

Minister Sharples has also established Whare Ōranga Ake, and he is also working constantly with other Ministers to advance programmes that work to address the issues of offending such as Drivers of Crime, a youth justice plan.

And we are doing some good things: rangatahi court, which is an awesome initiative, and community law forums—we need to develop those further. So we want to work with iwi and whānau to reduce Māori imprisonment and find a better way to go. We want to search for creative and integrated solutions to root causes that cause the disproportionate rates of Māori who are locked up in prisons.

In the short term and until this transformation occurs, the Māori Party would, firstly, like to throw out that stink three strikes legislation—get it out of here—extend the Whare Ōranga Ake to every State prison, initiate computers in cells to foster literacy and numeracy, support whānau focus on alcohol and drug addictions, and we would also reintroduce preferred lawyer status in legal aid.

In the end, what we would like to do is shut down the Independent Police Conduct Authority and establish an anti-corruption commission. We believe that those are some of the answers that might deal moving forward, at least in a small way, with the issues that we have around institutional racism in Aotearoa.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Closing Schools And Such: Interim Redcliffs Decision Announced

“While the school’s board has argued that circumstances that could give rise to potential disruption are extremely unlikely, advice from technical experts has shown these concerns cannot be ruled out." More>>


Jane Kelsey: High Court Can’t Make Groser Provide TPPA Information Faster

‘This week we went back to court to challenge Trade Minister Groser’s stalling tactics over the release of information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, following a High Court order that he reconsider the Official Information Act request I made last January’, said University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, first applicant in the case. More>>

Werewolf 58: No Climate For Change

The last time the global community tried to take collective action on climate change the world’s leaders finally came to agree that every not-too-onerous effort should be made to hold global warming to 2°C above the pre-industrial average. At Paris, all 150 participant countries nations will have put forward their pledges... On the information available, New Zealand's is the second weakest contribution of any nation in the developed world. More>>


Lambton Quay Shutdown: Object Was Made To Look Like Bomb

Police cordoned off part of Lambton Quay Wednesday afternoon, saying that a suspicious package had been found. Buildings were evacuated and buses were detoured. The army’s explosive ordnance disposal unit was brought to the Quay. More>>


Public Sector Still Shrinking: Record Low Number Of 'Backroom Bureaucrats'

Ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services has seen a further reduction in the number of core Government employees, State Services Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>


Disobeying The Law: Police Censorship Of Crime Research “An Outrage”

The Green Party is calling on Police Minister Michael Woodhouse to ensure Police scrap controversial contracts that place onerous restrictions on academic researchers’ access to Police data, the Green Party says. More>>


Q+A Transcript: Groser ‘Not Expecting’ Failure At UN Climate Talks

‘I will be very surprised if we don’t get an agreement. I think it’s a completely different situation to Copenhagen for a number of reasons. We’ve got a much more realistic negotiating proposal on the table. Secondly, I think the science has strengthened...’ More>>


Greenpeace Protest:

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news