Rawiri Waititi: More armed police, more dead Māori in the streets

By Stefan Dimitrof

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi thinks the government is throwing a large sum of money at the wrong problems. The government said yesterday it was going to spend $500 million to hire more cops, create a new firearms unit for targeting gun crime and to train more police to shoot better.

Recent information obtained under the Official Information Act has highlighted that in two-thirds of incidents where police drew a weapon, it was at Māori facing the barrel and that was just in the Bay of Plenty. “You’ve got 120 times the police have pulled guns on people and eighty per cent of the time they were pulled on Māori," Waititi said.

“So I have grave concerns for the investment in this particular space. We aren’t going to jail or police our way out of systemic racism”.

Waititi referred back to the instances of Kaoss Price, who was killed this year. Price has been described as a ‘one-man crime spree’ by police and of Steven Wallace in 2000 who was killed after being confronted smashing shopfront windows in Waitara, the MP saying that in both instances they ”don't deserve to be dead”.

'More dead Māori'

“The consequences of this investment in this particular space will be more dead Māori out on the streets.”

There has been a focus on new crime in the media and from the government highlighting gang and youth crime and especially ram raids. Waititi said ram raids were not costing the government nearly as much as tax evasion and fraud in this country at $4 billion, "so, yes, there is a huge emphasis on ram raids but we must stop the drivers and causation of crime”.

“We must be investing back into our for-Māori by-Māori kaupapa and Māori organisations, our whanau, hapu and iwi for us to reconnect our whanau to their Māoritanga, back to their communities.”

Waititi explains the government's problem is its “hākari” on the poverty that Māori experience through the system. “We know that there is systemic racism in the police. We are just waiting for the police minister to admit that, then we can address that”.

“Getting more police, arming police, is going to mean dead Māori on the streets”