National

Corrections minister responds to peaking proportion of Māori in our prisons

The proportion of Māori in our prisons is on the rise and actually peaking at 54 percent - it’s more than three times the Māori makeup in the general population - 16.5 percent.

Corrections minister responds to peaking proportion of M?ori in our prisons
Tova O'Brien asks Davis "why is the entrenched racism in our justice system getting worse under your watch?"
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Matching the prison population to the general population was Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis’s promise. 

But instead, it’s getting worse. 

The minister, also responsible for Crown Māori relations and Oranga Tamariki spoke to Tova about this on Wednesday morning.

Tova O'Brien asked Davis "why is the entrenched racism in our justice system getting worse under your watch?"

"Racism across the system is there, and across society, as Chester said," Davis told Today FM on Wednesday morning.

Minister Davies continued to say "it has ongoing implications and it does come down to those poor people who are marginalized most, they end up in prison."

"This government has done a lot." Davis continued. "If you say that twelve hundred fewer Māori in prison now than when I became the minister is a sign of failure, then I guess it is."

The Minister referenced Hōkai Rangi, a five-year strategy that aims to deliver greater outcomes for Māori, and made note that it is only a year and a half into its plan.

"Because we have managed to reduce the first crisis we had which was the capacity crisis, we can now really focus all our guns on reducing Māori representation." 

He agreed with what Chester Burrows said earlier on Tova that it is a wider systemic problem that stems from external factors within society completely unrelated to the justice system.

Minister Davies confirmed that this sort of project won't see significant change overnight and that he is trying his best to influence as much positive change as possible.

He told Tova, "I will never be satisfied. It's always about constant improvement and refining the system and turning those statistics around."

Watch the full interview above between Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Tova. 

You can also download the full interview on the Tova podcast, and listen on the go. Check it out on the rova app or wherever you get your podcasts.