National | Department of Corrections

'Hōkai Rangi wont reduce Māori numbers in prisons' - former inmate

A former inmate see's The Hōkai Rangi Māori strategy as a form of rebranding stale and failed policies and wont do anything to reduce the number of Māori in prisons.

Awatea Mita recalls the harshness of prison life when she was a convicted felon.

Mita says, "It was humiliating. Especially in terms of being a Māori woman and what I hope is, in terms of being Māori woman its not long ago we had illegal internal searches taking place and its those types of traumatising practices that I would like to see come to an end."

Government watch-dog group ' People Against Prisons Aotearoa' say, "teaching someone the words to Tūtira Mai in their prison cells wont fix anything."

Emilie Rakete says, "Theres no way that teaching someone kapahaka in prison, no way that teaching waiata in prison undoes the damage that the basic logic of putting someone in prison does to Māori communities."

The Minister of Corrections has his work cut out for him announcing his aim is to decrease Māori incarceration and reoffending by ten percent over the next  five years.

Minister Kelvin Davis says, "I launched the new Māori strategy to support those of our relations who are incarcerated. We are doing everything we possibly can do to ensure that."

Nationals spokesman on Corrections David Bennett says the minister's forecast for the next five years is out of his reach.

Bennett says, "That report is very light on any reintegration and any process for getting people back into the community to work and to have an opportunity for a change of life."

Mita is hopeful that Corrections will practise what they preach and by caring for prisoners not just their crimes.

"It needs to be a more humanising system. A system that takes in account a persons dignity. My own personal experience of the prison system that it was a very de-humanising process."

Without a doubt ongoing support systems for prisoners who come out prison back into the general public is a issue that Corrections need to look at.