Māori prison population 'major tragedy' - Davis

By Dean Nathan

Kelvin Davis says the fact that our prison population is now close to ten thousand is a national tragedy.  The Taitokerau MP says the damning statistics are even more so when over 5,500 of the inmates are Maori.

Davis is aggrieved to hear our jail population as of last week rose to 9986 inmates.

“This is a major tragedy for Māori as our relatives continue to bear the brunt of the penal system,” says Davis, “We need to seek real solutions that enable our people to reach their potential.”

Te Mana o Ngapuhi Kowhao Rau (TMNKR) are working to address the disconnection within families to enable them to lead the healing process.

“The reality of what we're dealing with is generations of the impact of [prison] on our families,” says Ngahau Davis of TMNKR, “Te Mana o Ngapuhi Kowhao Rau is based around the Māori worldview… we work best with our whanau together with the person that's offended, cause half the time actually the victims are their own whanaunga.”

“We've heard the police commissioner say that there is an unconscious bias in the police force,” says Kelvin Davis, “And that needs to end in the police force, in our court system and in our penal system because that’s the reason that the majority of our prison population are Maori.”

The government has recently announced a one billion dollar budget to build extra beds in prisons while services that assist inmates say that it will be a never-ending job if the crux of the issue remains unaddressed.

“What shall we do when the prison is full, build another one?” says Kelvin Davis, “We're spending billions of dollars on a penal system that’s not working.”