Police label reports of preferential treatment of Māori as misleading

The Police Commissioner, Mike Bush has issued a statement labelling reports claiming Māori get preferential treatment for traffic offences as misleading.

Reports surfaced yesterday after documents were leaked to TVNZ which reported that police officers in the Counties Manukau district were told not to issue fines to Māori in breach of their licence conditions or driving without a licence.

In the Police Commissioner's statement it is outlined that “All New Zealanders may be offered traffic compliance if they meet the criteria, regardless of their ethnicity.”

It goes on to say “Police's traffic compliance policy has been in place for more than 10 years and enables police officers to use their discretion to give drivers a certain amount of time to fix a problem rather than paying a fine or being prosecuted.”

Mike Bush says the final decision is left up to the discretion of the individual police officers, who take into account the particular circumstances of each matter when they decide whether compliance should be offered.

“I acknowledge the 18 month old document reported in the media from Counties Manukau district could have been worded better and we will change that. Nevertheless its intent was good, given the reality is that Maori are significantly over-represented in deaths and injuries associated with road trauma.”

He goes on to say, “Our Turning of the Tide strategy is our guiding policy document on this and I encourage anyone who wants a fully informed understanding of our approach to Maori to read it.”

According to the NZ traffic compliance policy, after a ticket has been issued, the driver has 60 days to remedy the offence. Superintendent Wally Haumaha says no one is above the law.

"It's never been exclusive and that was the point I was putting across. It's available to all New Zealanders but then if you look at the sub-groups or any groups that are most at risk and it's a known fact right throughout the sector that Māori have been a high risk in this area," he says.

Re-wording of the policy is underway to reflect correctly the NZ traffic compliance policy.