Kelvin Davis says change needed to fix 'broken' justice system

Māori prison workers hope the government's Justice Summit will result in solutions, not just talk. The two day summit in Wellington aims to improve New Zealand's justice system.

More than 600 academics, advocates and frontline workers gathered at Te Rauparaha Arena to discuss ways to fix New Zealand's ‘broken’ criminal justice system.

In a speech to the summit, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said, "The system is broken, it's not working and our whānau are hurting the most."

The summit will inform the government's 10 person advisory group which aims to develop a plan for justice reform.  National Director for Prison Fellowship NZ, Marama Parore says, "What I want to get out of this is- I speak for the children, I speak for the whānau who are doing it hard because our justice system keeps our people inside.

“It's an absolute outrage that so many of our whānau are in our whare herehere throughout the motu."

Kaiwhakaruruhau for Manukau Urban Māori Authority Anzac Wallace says the justice system is harsher on Māori than non-Māori.

"Be fair for meting out of punishment and consistent.  Don't change it for Māori, let the Māori go to jail and let the Pākehā get a smack on the hand and that's what happens."

There are more than 10,000 prisoners in the country.  Māori make up more than 51% of that population.

Minister Davis says a 'fundamental change' to the criminal justice system is needed if government hope to see fewer Māori victims and perpetrators of crime.

However criticism is already flying as to how effective new reform will be for Māori. 

Wallace says "I think a summit is good but address the problem fairly.  Don't tell me that there is an overabundance of Māori in jail and then present me with all these Pākehā who are not going to help us." 

Māori experts say expectations are high for the summit.