Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says he’s proud of what the Coalition government has done for Māori.
Asked what had been done for his electorate, Te Tai Tokerau, Davis responded: “Where do we start and how long do we have to talk about these things?”
“We’ve put $530 million into Te Tai Tokerau alone!”
Keeping people out of prison
It's plain to see that the minister is proud of his work to reduce the prison population.
“I don’t think that anything in Corrections would have happened without me as Māori Minister of Corrections.”
Davis says some years ago the National Party projected that in August 2020, the prison population would be 12,000. He quoted the current population at 9,300.
“Do the maths,” Davis says.
“We want to make these systemic changes and we’re doing it.”
Davis says he isn’t happy that over half the national prison population are Māori when they are just 15% of the national population. The minister says he wants to change that statistic.
“We’d prefer that there were no Māori in prison,” he says.
“But the reality is our people are in there. The guys I went to school with, my nephews, my cousins, you know?"
National responds to reducing prison populations
Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown - Photo / Provided
National Party corrections spokesperson Simeon Brown denies the projected population statistic as quoted by Minister Davis.
“National can’t confirm the prison population would or would not have risen as it depends on the levels of crime and convictions," Simeon Brown says.
Brown's stance is that reducing crime is the best way to reduce prison populations, and is concerned at the rising crime rate. He says there has been in increase in theft, burglary and assault rates.
“Simply targeting reducing prison numbers without focusing on reducing crime is short-sighted," Brown says.
Over the past year, we have seen over 17,000 more people made victims of crime than we saw last year."
Known for their tough stance on law and order, Brown says his party is committed to reducing re-offending once prisoners integrate back into society.
This is why our Law and Order package included major initiatives to help rehabilitate offenders and provide support for mental health services within the justice system.”
Tamariki Māori are more likely to be taken from their parents than any other ethnicity. Davis says he’s not happy that tamariki are taken into Oranga Tamariki custody but it’s a reality that must be faced.
“The best place for our tamariki is with their parents."
Iwi-led responses, where the Crown works with iwi to look after tamariki are in Davis’ opinion, the best way to keep kids safe.