Push for iwi administration of public prisons

By Harata Brown

Hemana Waaka, a Former Cultural Advisor of Mount Eden Prison says that iwi have the ability to administer public prisons and iwi like Ngāpuhi, as well as the collective iwi of the Auckland District and Ngāti Kahungunu, can provide managerial control over prisons within their districts. 

Waaka says that the government now need to consider expression of interests from Iwi Authorities to administer public prisons.

“What is the difference between being able to care for our children in Kohanga, and being able to care for our people in prisons? The administrational control of prisons throughout New Zealand need to be returned to iwi,” says Waaka.

Māori Party Co Leader Marama Fox says she will also table the proposal before the Correction Minister.

“I think that the people of Kahungunu can do this, because there are many of them within the prison here, that's a start,” says Fox.

The former Associate Minister of Corrections, Pita Sharples pushed for separate Māori Prison institutions to house Māori prisoners,

Waaka says that iwi can apply tikanga Māori to both Māori and non-Māori prisoners and the concept doesn't necessarily need to be initially implemented nationally. 

“It can be left up to iwi to care for the prisoners under their own customs that also align with the law.”

While the idea is still in its infancy, the Māori Party say that they are pushing the concept even further and have already met with Māori who are actively working within prisons.