Report reveals immediate action needed for Māori reoffending

By Talisa Kupenga

The Waitangi Tribunal has ruled that the Crown is in breach of its Treaty obligations by failing to prioritise reducing the high rates of Māori reoffending.  The Tū Mai te Rangi Report, released today, says the situation is urgent and requires immediate action by the Crown.

The Waitangi Tribunal says the difference in reoffending rates between Māori and non-Māori is undisputed, long-standing and substantial and is a key factor in the high number of Māori behind bars.

Tom Hemopo, Claimant and former senior corrections officer Tom Hemopo told Te Kāea, “I'm happy the report has finally been released because I really do feel for Māori in prison. They're just lying there and it's such a waste.”

Minister of Corrections Louise Upston says, "It's a really constructive report and I think the recommendations in there are practical."

The Tribunal heard Hemopo's claim under urgency last year. The former senior probation officer welcomes the recommendations which include:

  • Creating a new strategy in partnership with Māori to reduce Māori reoffending rates.
  • Setting accountability targets and allocating a specific budget to bring Māori reconviction and reimprisonment rates in line with non- Māori.
  • Amending the Corrections Act 2004 to state the Crown's relevant Treaty obligations to Māori.

Hemopo says, “We know two heads are better than one when striving for better outcomes. Achieving this would be my ultimate dream and if that happens then my work will be done.”

The Tribunal says while the Justice sector announced in Feb 2017 a broad target to reduce Māori reoffending, the Department has no specific plan, target or budget to achieve this goal.

“That's no good. They aren't engaging those who need help.”

Minister Upston says, “The Kingitanga Accord is a real piratical example of working with Māori on this particular challenge and it recognises that we need to find new ways to solve this particular challenge and get different results."

The Minister for Corrections is awaiting a formal report from the chief executive before taking action regarding the recommendations.