Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa – The Māori Law Society has welcomed the first report He Waka Roimata: Transforming the Criminal Justice System from Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora – The Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group.
It says a strong message in the report is the need for the justice system to do better for Māori. Māori are over-represented in the prison population and rate highly in the victim statistics too.
“This report confirms what many of us have known for a long time, and that is that the justice system hurts all Māori – not just those within it, but also through the entrenchment of negative, and racist stereotypes about Māori,” says Glenn Tootill, Tumuaki Tāne of Te Hunga Rōia Māori.
“The impact of colonisation has resulted in tragic consequences for our people,” he said. “We echo the challenge from Hui Māori: Ināia Tonu Nei: this is not what our tūpuna who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi* would have expected or wanted for their mokopuna.”
Jaimee Paenga, Secretary of Te Hunga Rōia Māori says the report should be used to inform the changes that the justice system so desperately needs.
“While the report describes the real grief that has been experienced, it also shows that there is hope and good-will that the justice system can be improved,” she said. “What we need now is courageous commitment from government to take urgent steps to stop the cycle of harm caused by the current justice system. These steps must include continued, and meaningful engagement with Māori, Pasifika, and other marginalised communities. Empowering New Zealanders to be part of solutions will be key to improving everyone’s future experiences of the justice system. The need for transformative change to the justice system is urgent, and Māori voices and values must be prioritised.”