Corrections apologises for Māori nationalist group comments

The Department of Corrections has apologised for minutes recorded in a forum almost two years ago naming Māori nationalist groups alongside Islamic extremists and other far-right and violent political groups as a threat to public safety.

Corrections was not available for interview but in a statement to Te Kāea, Deputy National Commissioner Andy Milne says, “We acknowledge the comment noted in these minutes was inappropriate and sincerely apologise for any unintended offence caused.”

Milne says the department has no evidence of any Māori nationalist groups active in prison.

Maori Council Executive Director Matthew Tukaki says heads must roll. 

"The first thing is, what is a nationalist Māori organisation? Is it the Māori Council?  Is it the Māori Women's Welfare League?  [They] lump the Māori organisations of any description in with terrorist groups.  [We've] been down this path before and I think it's now time for whoever wrote that report to 'fess up and release it."

He says the report is 'Māori bashing' and institutional racism at its finest.

"What these sorts of things do is send another mixed message to every other New Zealander around town, ‘Well look at what all these naughty little Māori are up to now.’"

According to the NZ Herald the list came from notes taken at a forum hosted by Corrections in March 2017.  Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says he has spoken with the department and says their claims are false and inappropriate.

“No such Māori nationalist group exists in our prisons and I am angered by these statements,” he says.

Tukaki says if the country does have a problem with a few groups, they should be named.

“As somebody involved in a lot of Māori organisations, I don't know of one nationalist Māori organisation in the same vein as what's going on in Venezuela."

Davis would not confirm if 'heads would roll' as a consequence, but says he is aware of the those responsible for the list and he has spoken to them.