13 Jun 2009

Case for parallel Maori justice system highlighted - lawyer

5:13 pm on 13 June 2009

A prominent Maori lawyer is calling for the establishment of a parallel Maori justice system to be considered.

The call follows the conviction in the High Court at Wellington of five people for the manslaughter of Janet Moses, who died after an attempted exorcism in Lower Hutt in 2007.

Lawyer Moana Jackson says that references throughout the trial to a makutu ceremony were incorrect, highlighting the inability of the existing justice system to understand Maori philosophy and ideas.

Mr Jackson says that the debate over the re-establishment of a Maori justice system needs to be re-opened.

But the head of Maori studies at Victoria University, Peter Adds, says he's not sure New Zealand needs a dual justice system.

In recent years, he says, the judiciary has improved its willingness to deal with cultural concepts. A further step forward would be to appoint more Maori to the bench.

Three acquitted of manslaughter charge

On Friday, Ms Moses's uncle, John Rawiri, and her aunts Glenys Wright, Aroha Wharepapa, Tanginoa Apanui and Angela Orupe were all found guilty of manslaughter.

Another aunt, Gaylene Kepa, her husband Alfred Kepa and Hall Wharepapa were found not guilty and acquitted.

Two people whose names are suppressed were found not guilty of the wilful ill-treatment of a child and acquitted.