A call for Māori to have a genuine leadership role in creating a future justice system for Aotearoa New Zealand has been made clearly in a report released today.
The report, Ināia Tonu Nei – The Time is Now: We Lead, You Follow, captures the kōrero at a national Hui Māori held in Rotorua in April 2019 to discuss Māori experiences with the justice system.
Spokespeople for the report Tā Mark Solomon and Katie Murray say the report reflects both the sobering reality for Māori at the hands of a colonial justice system, and an overwhelming energy for Māori to lead a new design for the justice system.
“For generations Māori have suffered disproportionate adversity from a justice system that has been imposed on our people,” says Katie Murray.
“It is absolutely clear from any measure you look at that the Justice System hurts Māori more than any other group in New Zealand. This is a crisis for Aotearoa, reflected in the highest ever numbers of Māori being caught in the justice pipeline than any other time in the history of Aotearoa.
“We heard clearly at Hui Māori that the Crown must take responsibility for the legacy of colonisation and intergenerational trauma that effects whānau today. The lived experience for Māori in the Justice System is that it is racist and it is biased against Māori.
“We say that anyone who believes that bias does not exist within the justice system does not truly understand the daily injustices faced by Māori in the Justice System and we challenge them to engage with us with an open mind and a compassionate heart,” says Katie Murray.
Despite the intergenerational hurt being felt by Māori, at Hui Māori there was a strong desire for Māori and the Crown to enter a genuine partnership to design a new justice system for New Zealand, says Tā Mark Solomon.
“The Justice System cannot be reformed without leadership from Te Ao Māori. The Hui Māori called for the Crown to finally share power with Māori and for Māori-led responses to be central to the reformation of the Justice System,” says Tā Mark Solomon.
“Māori have the knowledge, the relationships, the experience and capability to lead reform of the justice system. We are calling on the Crown to join with Māori, build on the great initiatives that are already providing hope and better outcomes in our communities, and design a system that is fit for purpose in modern Aotearoa, New Zealand.
“We can, and must, grasp this opportunity together to build a justice system that is safer and more effective for all New Zealanders. Ināia tonu nei, the time is now,” says Tā Mark Solomon.
Read the full report.