National | Corrections

King Tuheitia launches new Iwi Māori Panel

The Waikato region has established an iwi Māori Panel aimed at reducing incarceration rates among Māori. The panels, which are in high demand across the country, focus on an offender's genealogy, whānau, income, and background in order to understand why they commit a crime.

The panel will consist of a representative from the police, two community members and a representative for the Māori King.

The Hamilton-based community partnership is between Te Kōhao Health and police. It has the backing of the Māori King's Office and was launched by King Tuheitia.

“The most important thing is to uphold and support the King's wish, who is concerned about a large number of Māori and Pasifika people in prisons across the country,” said Panel community member Glen Tupuhi.

Over the past three years, Panels have been piloted in Lower Hutt, Gisborne, Counties-Manukau and the South Island. Assistant Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha says the results have been positive.

“And the success of these three pilots has been significant in reducing the number of Māori offenders in the age bracket between 17 to 25-year-olds,” says Haumaha.

“We’ve had 11.9 percent reduction in Māori reoffending.”

Until June 2019 4.5MIL has been earmarked to keep existing panels going and also allow for the expansion of more Iwi Panels. The new government is keen to continue working with the Kiingitanga in this space.

“We, the government, are working with Tainui,” said Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis. “The (former) government has signed a covenant with Tainui. I want to do the same with other Iwi.”

The government plans to set up Iwi Panels in 13 districts throughout the country over time.