Justice Minister Andrew Little has acknowledged release of Ināia Tonu Nei: Now is the time: We lead, you follow, a report authored by the organisers of the Hui Māori held in April to focus on Māori justice issues in the wake of the 2018 Criminal Justice Summit.
The report summarises what was heard at the Hui and aims to let their voices be heard.
Three main recommendations arose from the kōrero at the Hui Māori. These cover constitutional reform, a call for a plan to accelerate and understand the change needed, and to establish a Mana Ōrite model of partnership.
Further, various other themes were identified within the recommendations relating to building or improving leadership capability, workforce development, legislative and policy settings, working together and service delivery.
The report says Hui participants discussed the extensive work that Māori have undertaken to reform the justice system.
"However, it is noted that the Crown is yet to enact previous recommendations from Māori. The Crown has not adequately partnered with Māori to enable a meaningful and enduring reform to take place. Participants recognised the current justice system as 'settler–colonial' and that the underpinning of colonisation can no longer be ignored. Decolonising the justice system must be central to any work programme that may be developed following the Hui Māori."
Hui participants asserted that the Crown has failed in delivering a justice system for Māori. The Hui called for the Crown to share power with Māori. Further, there was a call from Māori at the Hui that they would also like iwi to share power with them.
"The call from the Hui was clear with respect to Māori wanting to lead the responses to the justice system."
It says Hui participants acknowledged the importance of understanding that the justice pipeline starts at birth. Participants said that any approach to reforming the justice system must ensure the impact of Oranga Tamariki and the Family Court is understood.
"Most of those who enter the criminal courts or prisons have had previous interactions with Oranga Tamariki and the Family Court. Participants called for Oranga Tamariki to be disestablished," the report states.
Hui participants called for the abolition of the current prison system. "Participants went on to say that prisons are continuing to fail Māori. The current corrections system does not focus on rehabilitation and is purely based on a punitive approach."
Mr Little says he acknowledges that there is work which must be done to improve the justice system.
"The Ināia Tonu Nei report contains many recommendations that this Government will take the time necessary to examine,” he says.
“This report is an important step in our journey toward a better justice system, and complements the recent He Waka Roimata: A Vessel of Tears report from Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora - the Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group and upcoming reports examining victims issues from the Chief Victims Advisor.
“It is clear that New Zealanders from across the country are calling for the criminal justice system to be overhauled. It is also clear that we must do better for Māori, who are over-represented in nearly every stage of the justice system."