April 2017 Māori Law Review

Tū Mai te Rangi – the Crown and disproportionate Māori reoffending rates

Tū Mai Te Rangi! The Report on the Crown and Disproportionate Reoffending Rates

Waitangi Tribunal Wai 2540, 2017 (pre-publication version)

11 April 2017

The Waitangi Tribunal has upheld claims, inquired into urgently, about reducing the high rate of reoffending by Māori relative to non-Māori through the work of the Department of Corrections.

Download Tū Mai Te Rangi! The Report on the Crown and Disproportionate Reoffending Rates (2.4 MB PDF).

Overview and result

Waitangi Tribunal - urgent inquiries - Department of Corrections - reducing disproportionate reoffending rates of Māori
Date11 April 2017
CaseTū Mai Te Rangi! The Report on the Crown and Disproportionate Reoffending Rates (2.4 MB PDF)
CitationWai 2540
TribunalWaitangi Tribunal
Member(s)Judge P Savage, Bill Wilson QC, Tania Simpson, and Professor Derek Lardelli
Earlier/later decisionsApplications for urgent hearings concerning the Crown's failure to reduce the number of Māori who reoffend thus reducing the disproportionate number of Māori serving sentences (Wai 2540, #2.5.4)
Legislation citedTreaty of Waitangi Act 1975
Cases cited(fuller report to come.)
Overview and resultThe Waitangi Tribunal has upheld claims, inquired into urgently, that the Crown has breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi by failing to prioritise the reduction of the high rate of Māori reoffending relative to non-Māori.

Discussion

The following summary information is supplied by the Waitangi Tribunal. A fuller article about this report will appear in due course.

The Waitangi Tribunal has found the Crown in breach of its Treaty obligations by failing to prioritise the reduction of the high rate of Māori reoffending relative to non-Māori.

In a report released today, Tū Mai te Rangi!, the Tribunal says the undisputed disparity between Māori and non-Māori reoffending rates is longstanding and substantial. It says high Māori reoffending rates contribute to the disproportionate imprisonment of Māori, who currently make up half of New Zealand’s prisoners, despite being only 15 per cent of the national population.

The report looks at how the Crown, through the Department of Corrections, is failing to meet its Treaty responsibilities to reduce Māori reoffending rates.

The inquiry followed a claim filed by Tom Hemopo, a retired senior probation officer.

The Tribunal, consisting of Judge Patrick Savage, Bill Wilson QC, Tania Simpson, and Professor Derek Lardelli, heard the claim under urgency in Wellington in July 2016.

The Tribunal looked at recent efforts by the Department to reduce the overall rate of reoffending by 25 per cent. It says the most recent statistics supplied by the Crown show Māori progress toward this target has slowed dramatically, while the gap between Māori and non-Māori progress toward the target has widened.

The Tribunal says that for the Crown to be acting consistently with its Treaty obligations in this context, it must be giving urgent priority to addressing disproportionate Māori reoffending rates in clear and convincing ways.

The Tribunal says that, while the Justice sector announced in February 2017 a broad target to reduce Māori reoffending, the Department has no specific plan or strategy to reduce Māori reoffending rates, no specific target to reduce Māori reoffending rates, and no specific budget to meet this end.

The Tribunal therefore concludes that the Crown is not prioritising the reduction of the rate of Māori reoffending and is in breach of its Treaty obligations to protect Māori interests and to treat Māori equitably.

The Tribunal finds that the Crown has not breached its partnership obligations, given that the Department of Corrections is making good faith attempts to engage with iwi and hapū. However, the Tribunal says the Crown must live up to its stated commitment to develop its partnerships with Māori.

Among the Tribunal’s recommendations is that the Department work with its Māori partners to design and implement a new Māori-specific strategic framework, set and commit to a Māori-specific target for the Department to reduce Māori reoffending rates, and regularly and publically report on the progress made towards this.

The Tribunal also recommends the Crown include a dedicated budget to appropriately resource the new strategic focus and target.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn