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Maori prison idea already in the works

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/05/2017

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Ngati Kahungunu are already in discussions with Corrections about running a prison entirely on Maori values, the Maori Party says.

Maori currently make up 52 per cent of the prison population, prompting suggestions on how that rate could be reduced.

Labour's Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis has put forward a proposal for an entirely Maori approach to corrections.

But Maori Party co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell say they've already been in talks with the last three corrections ministers over the idea, based on a proposal put forward by their predecessor Sir Pita Sharples.

Ms Fox said discussions were already underway between the party, the department and Ngati Kahungunu in Hawkes Bay.

"It's been something that's been the top of the discussions the last three years with me certainly and Corrections are currently talking with Kahungunu," she said.

"Eventually, in the future, this is going to be inevitable. I don't think it's happening now but we need to look at what is the pathway to get there and that is what we're in discussions about."

Ms Fox said Maori should be given the opportunity to show that things don't have to be run the same way they always have.

Labour leader Andrew LItte. © Getty Images Labour leader Andrew LItte. While Labour leader Andrew Little and Prime Minister Bill English acknowledge the current system is not working, neither backs the idea of a single Maori values run prison.

Mr Little said all options had to be considered.

"I don't have a firm view about a separate Maori prison or a prison run on tikanga Maori. What I do accept is we've got to look for different ways to run a corrections system than what we do now because it's not working," he said.

Mr English said the work needs to be done before Maori get to prison.

"We've got a significant proportion of offenders are Maori, all our rehabilitation efforts that are going on to reduce reoffending of course takes into account what's going to work for them, as it does for any offender," he said.

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