16 Mar 2017

Accord aims to reduce Māori reoffending

4:56 pm on 16 March 2017

Corrections and the Kiingitanga have signed an accord to help reduce Māori reoffending rates.

Wiri Prison - Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Approxiamtely half the prison population is Māori - 51 percent of male prisoners and 60 percent of female prisoners - and the new partnership aims to improve reintergration into communities.

The accord was signed today by the Māori King, Kiingi Tuheitia and Corrections Minister Louise Upston.

Ms Upston said she hoped the new partnership would reduce the number of Māori in prison.

"I applaud the Kiingitanga for stepping forward and recognising it has a role to play in working with Corrections to improve the wellbeing of Māori offenders," she said.

The accord came about after a year of discussion, she said.

Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said the department had already started working on initiatives with the Kiingitanga.

Corrections was especially concerned about the lack of safe housing for Māori women when they left prison, he said.

"We've talked about land which could be made available through the Kiingitanga and Corrections could put housing on.

"Together we could mentor the women with their families and children and they get to live a life that perhaps many of those women aren't certain they are going to get to live when they get out of prison."

Kiingitanga representative Tukororangi Morgan said the movement was happy to provide land for houses that would be used for reintergration.

"We are still looking within Waikato to identify the appropriate lands so we can establish projects for our people who are incarcerated and then come out, to provide them skills so their transition back to ordinary life is seamless."

Although the accord was signed by the Kiingitanga, Mr Morgan said he hoped it would benefit other iwi outside Waikato-Tainui.

"We want to help our people grow their capabilities so that they can provide some substantial benefit for their whānau."