Māori Party promise $100m for legal aid service, want overhaul of 'racist' justice system

Source: 1News

The Māori Party has today promised a $100 million investment for the establishment of a Māori legal aid service and the complete overhaul of what they call New Zealand's "racist" justice system.

Restricted Area Barbed Fence Closeup Photo in Bluish Color Grading. generic jail crime

The Māori Legal Aid Service/Māori Legal Defence Service - which comes as part of the party's criminal justice policy - would help protect Māori from the Crown, Māori Party spokesperson Donna Pokere-Phillips said today in a statement.

"Māori are used to maintain a Pākehā economy which is based on criminalising them," she said.

"Governments have known this but failed to act. We will keep calling this breach of our Tiriti o Waitangi agreements out until we get sovereignty back."

In its announcement ahead of the October 17 General Election, the party claimed two years of criminal justice system costs has cost more than all Treaty settlements over the past 26 years.

As well as the establishment of a fund for a Māori restorative justice system, the policy would also see the replacement of punitive measures "embedded within the current criminal justice system" with a system based around restorative justice and rehabilitation.

It would also amend "racist laws, legal and policing processes" which the party says has helped incarcerate "innocent Māori".

As of June 2020, Māori make up 52.3 per cent of the prison population, according to the Department of Corrections. That's despite making up 16.5 per cent of the New Zealand population.

Pokere-Phillips said a properly-funded Whānau Ora would see a decrease in Māori offending, rather than "the negative deficit expenditure on a brutal criminal punishment system".