Effect of Māori in prisons similar to WWII losses

By Wena Harawira

A former prison worker says the generation of Māori men lost to prisons is similar to the losses Māori experienced during WW2.

Paora Stanley, who now works for Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi as its Operations manager, says the largest age group in NZ prisons is between 20 – 40 years, the age of many Māori who went to war.

“It destroyed and it took away the epitome of Māori leadership, Māori male leadership in particular at that time,” he said.

But he believes the ‘enemy’ is a law and order system that is making Māori men and women the most arrested, convicted and imprisoned race in NZ.

In June 2016, nearly 5,000 Māori made up the total NZ prison population of 9,495 inmates.

“I think we just need to be really careful about taking the blame for the colonial and systematic approach to the destruction of our people.”

“The police are doing some good work to clean up their act but the courts and Corrections need to do their part too,” he said.

Paora Stanley said the rūnanga is working on local solutions with the police, and strengthening whānau within Tauranga.