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Justice : What is your view of the New Zealand justice system? Labour Leadership Q&A #6

Posted by on September 11th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 6

Justice : What is your view of the New Zealand justice system?

Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over the past 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog starting today (Tuesday 10th September), till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.


Question : Can you indicate your views on the justice system in New Zealand. Do you endorse restorative justice or prefer the fill the prisons option?

Submitted by : Julie Berriman, Blenheim



Answer from Grant Robertson

I think it’s time we admitted that the lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key justice system hasn’t worked.

Instead of making our communities safer, prisons too often result in criminals graduating to more serious crime – perpetuating the problem.

Rather than treating justice as a political hobby horse we need to have a rigorous debate on how to build a pragmatic and evidenced based response to crime.

We must address the causes of crime, in particular unemployment, poverty and lack of educational success if we are to have any hope of reducing offending.

While prisons will remain an unfortunate necessity for serious offenders, restorative justice can play a much larger role than it does now.

It’s been proven to lead to better outcomes for victims and reduce re-offending by up to 20%.

Where prison is required its vital that we invest in effective rehabilitation such as drug and alcohol counselling, teaching literacy and skills training so offenders break the cycle of crime.


Answer from David Cunliffe

I believe all New Zealanders should have the chance to live in and enjoy safe communities. One where crime levels are low and there is a fair justice system.

Those who commit crimes should be dealt with firmly and responsibly to encourage rehabilitation and reduce repeat offending.

More prisons and prisoners are not sustainable.

We need to address the causes of crime and wider symptoms and create a safe and secure society that guarantees civil and human rights, ensures equal access to justice, and promotes public safety.


Answer from Shane Jones

The prisons are already full of too many Whanau from te Ao Maori.

Our focus should always be on early intervention, jobs and industry for our young people to steer them alway from crime.

A weak job market, limited training opportunities and poor investment in our regions breeds hopelessness.

Obviously security is vital in the community however economic remedies are the best investment for changing people’s lives.


Peoples : How would bring Maori & Pakeha into a multi-ethnic future? Labour Leadership Q&A #5

Posted by on September 11th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 5

Peoples : How would bring Maori & Pakeha into a multi-ethnic future?

Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over the past 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog starting yesterday (Tuesday 10th September), till Friday 13th September. All-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.


Question : How are you going to blend the two main traditions we have in New Zealand, Maori and Pakeha, to provide the basic identity profile with which we can go forward into a multi-ethnic future?

Submitted by : Ian Free, Auckland



Answer from David Cunliffe

A Labour Government that I lead would honour the Treaty of Waitangi and invest in that proud diverse future.

I will commit to a regular series of iwi forums across the country, to develop lasting partnerships with all major iwi. I want to demonstrate that Labour is committed to the treaty partnership and it is part of how we work together.

We would encourage the arts across the board, and invest in further building our unique, strong national identity. But most of all, I have a deep and unswerving commitment to honour the diversity of all our communities and all our people.

As a West Auckland MP, with almost 40% of my constituents not born in NZ, I also know the value of an inclusive multiculturalism built on our bicultural foundations.

Both are built on the same principles that are fundamental to Labour – that every New Zealander is of the same moral value – and that every Kiwi kid deserves a good start so they can make the best of their lives.
Labour needs to deepen its alliances with our ethnic communities. Labour’s policy of a creating a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs with new powers and responsibilities will help to achieve this. Their struggle for a fair chance in New Zealand is part of our broader struggle for a fairer, more decent New Zealand that celebrates diversity.


Answer from Shane Jones

As our leader I am totally confident that I can offer a unifying influence given my ancestry, education and communication.

Identity is not static. It is imperative however we not cast ourselves adrift from the bi-cultural narrative inherent in the Treaty of Waitangi.

The creative sector and our curriculum should encourage the blending of Maori culture into our broader civic culture.


Answer from Grant Robertson

I think the word ‘blend’ in the question comes from the wrong starting point.

For me, using the Treaty of Waitangi as the base as our founding document we can create a strong foundation.

I support New Zealand becoming a republic, but it must be done acknowledging the Treaty. I also support the teaching of Te Reo Maori in all schools as a way of strengthening our culture.

What we must do is support the celebration of the many cultures in New Zealand, including through language and culture weeks, teaching of language in schools.

Our rich diversity provides a terrific platform to build our nation for the 21st century.


Our Meka

Posted by on June 11th, 2013

Pictured here on the campaign trail at Matariki celebrations

She’s full of energy. She’s strong and feisty. And she’s coming to parliament. This is our Meka Whaitiri. She’s the Labour candidate for Ikaroa-Rawhiti, which was our Parekura Horomia’s seat. The by-election is on Saturday 29 June

Advanced voting for the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti byelection opens tomorrow, 12 June, and Meka Whaitiri will cast an early vote with rangatahi and first time voters in Flaxmere Public Library at 10am.

Here’s a bit of background:

I was born in Manutuke and moved to Whakatu when I was 10. I worked as a Rousey when I was younger up on the East Coast and went on to work in the Casings department at the Whakatu Works with all of my whanau through my teens and early 20s.

I went to Uni in Wellington and my first job as a graduate was working with Parekura in the Department of Labour. Parekura and our team set up the Community Employment Group which enable us to work with whanau, hapu and marae up and down the country for eight years to create jobs and industry for whanau. Our motto was, ‘local solutions to local problems’. One of our initiatives that we assisted to start up was the Whale Watching business in Kaikoura.

I had a great working life in Wellington working with our people, including as the first General Manager of the Maori Women’s Welfare League. I ended up heading back to work with Parekura as his Senior Advisor when he was the Minister of Maori Affairs before returning home in 2008 to work for Ngati Kahungunu Iwi as the CEO.

I live in Whakatu (Hastings) next to my whanau homestead with my two boys (which you may have seen in their youtube video clips:

I believe things are very hard for our whanau on the ground – I know this bevcause I see it day in day out, within my own whanau but also as I travel up and down the electorate. The reality is there a very few jobs for our whanau. Industry has closed and our kids are going over to Australia in the droves. I want to do something about this and this is one of the reasons I have put my hand up to be the Labour candidate for Ikaroa-Rawhiti.

Mauri ora ki a koe, ki to whanau hoki

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A Rocky Road To Asset Sales

Posted by on November 27th, 2012

National has failed to reach its target of selling of shares in State Owned Energy Companies prior to Christmas 2012. They underestimated the broad public consensus opposing the move and they overplayed the level of ‘support’ from iwi leaders that did not equate to real votes on the ground for the Mixed Ownership Model (MOM) being promulgated.
Today the New Zealand Maori Council (NZMC) will present their case in the High Court. There are several strands to the arguments being debated about water, the rationale builds on the firm belief that;

➢ The Crown has a moral obligation to recognise the tino rangatiratanga that Maori assert over their Taonga and a fiduciary obligation to protect those rights and interests

It seems to me that this argument was the initial premise that built the case for the New Zealand Maori Council who sought to object to the Sale of Shares in SOE’s and the Mom model being promoted by the Government. That the Tribunal went a step further and suggested a ‘shares plus’ model to resolve the disputed action was, in my view, a pragmatic step to try and reconcile a way forward.

It was unhelpful and has become a red herring to the real issue that is that Maori do have proprietary rights and interests in water albeit undefined.

➢ That the common interest that all New Zealanders have in water is not prejudiced by Maori seeking greater protection of their proprietary rights and interests in water

Insofar as water is concerned, Maori accept that there is a common interest in water and that the Crown must take steps to preserve and protect those bundles of rights. The assertion that’ no-one owns water’ is offensive to Maori who see the hypocrisy of a water management framework that ascribes rights and interests through resource consents and allocation models.

This is why iwi have sought greater input into the RMA framework and the current management regime to accommodate the generic interests of Maori as kaitiaki and the co-existing rights of iwi insofar as localised Treaty Settlement outcomes.

The moment the Crown seeks to privatize rights in water through exclusive shareholding interests in water companies, transferability of water permits or the like, then the game changes and iwi/Maori are forced to ensure that their collective interests will not be disenfranchised.

In many respects, if New Zealanders who believe that Energy Companies should be operated for the benefit of all New Zealanders, they would support the actions of the NZMC to stop the sale of SOE’s and seek greater clarity over the nature and extent of proprietary rights and interests in water.

➢ That s.9 of the SOE Act was a mechanism used by Maori to protect their interests vis-à-vis Crown actions and the new clause inserted in the Public Finance Bill does not ascribe the same level of protection

This legal mechanism was intended to be Nationals solution to soften the Maori sentiment towards a share sell-down of 49% in SOE’s. But the Government failed to consider whether its actions fundamentally breached the Treaty of Waitangi and the fiduciary obligation to protect the ‘rangatiratanga’ of Maori in relation to water.

The Maori Party a close ally and coalition partner tried to dance on a pinhead by saying that they supported consultation with ‘the people’. They hid behind a small group of iwi leaders who showed some interest in the MOM model and transferring the s.9 clause of the SOE Act into a similar provision of the Public Finance Act. Yet they opposed Assets Sales. This is a confused position and reeked of political maneuvering rather than principles and should the NZMC be successful it will be despite the action of the Maori Party.

Once again, the take home point is that while the Government believes it may have a political mandate, 3 Maori electorate members of the Maori Party does not constitute a broad consensus or mandate from iwi or Maori on the issue and the Government should be concerned if the Court pursues the fiduciary obligation that the Crown has to protect the interests of Maori insofar as Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi.

➢ That the Treaty Settlement process does not adequately provide for Maori proprietary rights and interests in water that may be specific and localised to whanau and hapuu
The Waikato River Settlement is a case in point. It is a historical settlement that has affirmed co-governance and co-management mechanisms in the ongoing management of New Zealand’s most utilised waterway. That settlement does not, however, ascribe proprietary rights and interests to hapuu or whanau who may have a puna, aquifer, lake, waterfall or stream in many parts of the rohe.

The NZMC court action may assist those hapuu and whanau whose interests may not be captured in the Treaty Settlement but have an important bundle of rights that need to be protected.

➢ That the final determination of the extent of Maori rights and interests in water will need to be accommodated in Resource Management legislation alongside Treaty Settlements
Whatever the outcome of the NZMC case, change is inevitable insofar as the Resource Management Act, water catchment management, co-existing rights vis-à-vis efficient allocation models. The Land and water Forum has been a constructive process to focus many minds on the challenge of sustaining more efficient water management regimes to enable productive enterprise, be cognisant of Maori rights and interests, protect the ongoing quality of waterways and sustain community utilization.

A post Land and Water Forum should lead to more sophisticated water-management tools and frameworks that bring together ‘competing interests’ with greater coherence around the sustainable use and allocation of water.

➢ That the Crown does not have the moral mandate of Maori to sell 49% of shares in State Owned Energy Companies because it prejudices the ability for Maori to assert their tino rangatiratanga over a significant Taonga that is managed in the common interest of ALL New Zealanders
Last but not least the political point to be made time and time again in relation to the Governments Asset Sale Agenda and the rights and interests being asserted by Iwi and Maori alike is that the Crown must assure itself and the Court that their actions do not prejudice the Article 2 interests of hapuu and iwi.
If they cannot demonstrate this high threshold based on proper consultation or a significant and broad-based mandate from hapuu and iwi then it would be safer to retain that common interest that all New Zealanders have in water by holding onto New Zealand’s Energy Companies for the ‘Public Good’.

I remember a kaumatua once saying that:
“…the trick to walking on water is knowing where the rocks are…”

Now is a very good time for the Government to rethink its SOE Asset Sales Agenda….

He Aitua

Posted by on August 3rd, 2012

‘Kua hinga te totaranui o te wao nui a Tane’
‘A great Totara has fallen in Tane’s forest’

At the far northern boundary of my Te Tai Tonga electorate is the suburb of Waiwhetu, in the city of Lower Hutt.

It’s the home of the Te Matehou hapu of Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko ote Ika (An Ati Awa tribal grouping) and today they farewell one of their Kuia Ra Waho,a nanny from another iwi, Jean Puketapu of Tuhoe.

Whaea Jean was at the forefront of the Te Kohanga Reo movement in 1982. Her husband Kara Puketapu was, at the time, Secretary of Maori affairs and his Tu Tangata Programme that he implemented in the 80’s included language revival at an early child level. The first Kohanga in the country opened up just over the hill from Waiwhetu marae at Pukeatua in Wainuiomata where Kara and Jean where living at the time. She was the first teacher of a Kohanga Reo as we know it today.The wider Tuhoe families have arrived to tautoko the Puketapu whanau and the wider hapu of Te Ati Awa to say farewell to a most important kuia in the Kohanga movement and in the tribal life of Te Ati Awa and Tuhoe ki Poneke.

Unfortunately I’m up in Te Wahipounamu today so wont be able to attend the tangi but I managed to sneak away from ‘the house’ for the afternoon on Wednesday and spent the rest of the day with the haukainga. I arrived before the first set of manuhiri and must say, felt priviliged to have been accorded the haukainga status of being able to ‘sneak in through the side door’ to spend private time with the kuia and her immediate family before the crowds started to arrive, and so I acknowledge their aroha towards me.Today will be a busy day for Waiwhetu and I wish them well. They’ve just finished hosting the Waitangi Tribunal for two weeks and now they find themselves back on the paepae and in the wharekai as they continue to hold and uplift the mana of our tupuna and our customs. Such is the way of everyday Maori life.

“Nana te Whariki Papatipu o te Kohanga Reo,o te Matauranga, i raranga”

Koha charge an embarrassment

Posted by on February 3rd, 2011

I have to admit to being embarrassed by this $1000 “koha” being asked of media outlets to attend the celebrations on the lower marae at Waitangi.

My reasons:
1. It’s not tikanga Maori (Maori custom) to either ASK for a koha or exclude anyone from a marae. In my last blog I was defending Maori tikanga that was broken by a group of pakeha. Now we have a group of Maori who are breaking Maori tikanga themselves. When we (Maori) trample on our own customs, then it’s a bit rich to expect non-Maori to adhere to them. We create create confusion and double standards. It’s called hypocrisy. It makes it bloody hard as a Maori politician to go out and defend the “Maori way”, when the Maori way these days chops and changes.

The base word of “tikanga” is “tika” meaning “correct” or “right”. Maori should be doing the correct or right thing. In this case they aren’t and in my mind are breaking tikanga and deserve condemnation. Their actions unfortunately reflect on all Maori, and I’m embarrassed. They will find every reason to justify their ‘koha’ charge, but there is only one reason why they shouldn’t charge it – it’s wrong.

If I was the media, I would boycott the lower marae celebrations and focus on all the positive festivities that are happening around Waitangi.

2. Waitangi Day is a day for all New Zealanders to share. Media outlets allow many Maori and non-Maori who would like to be at Waitangi, but can’t be there, to share in the day. Many New Zealanders are already alienated from Waitangi Day, this sort of un-Maori behaviour simply drives people further away.

In my blog ‘Denis responds’ Denis said, “But we must learn to understand and respect each other better and also to live together in harmony.” These people asking for the ‘koha’ make it damn hard for non-Maori to understand and respect Maori and for us all to live in harmony.

Maybe they aren’t interested in harmony.

Denis responds

Posted by on February 2nd, 2011

So I was rude, abrupt and dismissive of Denis’ opinion. Guilty on all accounts. But he had to be challenged. If he was looking for a sympathetic ear to reinforce his perspective, he emailed the wrong person. However, I believed he did what I hoped he’d do and had a look at the issue from another perspective.

Here’s his response, which I didn’t include in the original “Our nation is becoming unhinged – an email exchange” blog so as not to cloud the debate.

Denis said:

Thank you Kelvin – I appreciate this information and will think it through carefully.

It seems to me Maori and Europeans need to learn more about how each group works and thinks… and learn to respect the important stuff. Perhaps newspaper articles on different aspects of culture?

I think it must work both ways … and how do we solve the problem about people not being able to do things like: walk on top of the mountain if you are a mountain climber and this is something that they normally want to do and other stuff like that?
There must be a way that would be mutually satisfactory. But we must learn to understand and respect each other better and also to live together in harmony … don’t you agree?
It seems you are in a very good position to initiate some new ideas in this direction. That would be fantastic. Again, I appreciate your excellent reply.
Go for it and all the best — Denis

UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights – A promisory note with no currency

Posted by on April 20th, 2010

Under the veil of secrecy the Minister of Maori Affairs signed the Government up to the UNDRIP. National Ministers were quick to downplay the move as “aspirational” and “non-binding”! The PM must have stressed that point at least three times during question time. The test for National is whether they intend to leave this document as a symbol of aspiration that has no currency in New Zealand or whether they intend to deliver any of the expected outcomes which the MParty allude to?? No tupuna title for Hone, No Maori seats for Auckland and no gains whatsoever for the MParty. The whole move is a disaster with Rodney doing a haka that threatens the fragility of the Government agreements. A whole heap of window dressing of empty promises and hollow gains – meanwhile Maori unemployment continues to rise…