29 Jul 2016

NZ police work to bridge cultural divides

8:53 am on 29 July 2016

There are hopes new ethnic awareness programs in the New Zealand police will help bridge cultural divides between the organisation and local communities.

A Pacific network fono held on Thursday in Auckland was attended by over 200 police officers and featured workshops to improve police interaction with Pacific communities.

Māori and Pacific people make up nearly 70 percent of the country's prison population.

Maori and Pacific also make up a similar disproportionate number of victims in the justice system.

Peter Stokes, the National Strategic Pacific Advisor, said he hopes the programs would also help non-Maori and non-Pacific island police officers to help bridge the gap.

"The intention is to get people to be aware of the different cultures that are within the country, how they operate, and become knowledgeable and accepting of it. And to understand how people react, that sort of thing. So it's going to become an important segment of all courses going forward," he said.