3 Jun 2021

Fair policing and racial bias: Sir Kim Workman to lead panel

3:23 pm on 3 June 2021

Nineteen people have been appointed to an independent group to advise a research project investigating bias towards Māori within the New Zealand Police force.

Hundreds gather at Papawai marae to celebrate Sir Kim Workman

Sir Kim Workman. Photo: RNZ / YouTube

The project, between Waikato University and criminal justice advocate Sir Kim Workman, will look at how police can ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

Sir Kim, who will chair the group, said it intended to provide independent and robust advice to the research team and the police commissioner, to ensure the best outcomes for police and the community.

"The panel members bring to the table the diversity that is Aotearoa, together with the ability to discuss systemic bias in a constructive and open way."

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the Understanding Policing Delivery research programme was focused on identifying whether, where, and to what extent bias existed at a system level in the police's operating environment.

"The programme is about understanding the reality of how we are currently serving our communities and gaining insights that will ensure we deliver on our commitments to our organisational values and that our actions are fair and reasonable for all New Zealanders."

He said the programme would initially look at three key areas:

  • Who police stop and speak to and how they engage with them
  • Decision making around when and why the use of force is justified
  • Decision making around when charges against a person are deemed necessary
Waikato University's Professor Devon Polaschek

Devon Polaschek. Photo: Victoria University / supplied.

The research will be conducted by an independent team led by Devon Polaschek.

Polaschek is a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Waikato, and the director of Te Puna Haumaru New Zealand Institute of Security and Crime Science.

"We welcome the appointment of the panel and the diverse range of expertise and experience they bring to this complex issue."

The panel members are:

  • Matt Bagshaw, co-chair of Rainbow Pride in Auckland and director of embie people
  • Dr Katie Bruce, manager of child participation at the Office of the Children's Commissioner
  • Fa'anānā Efeso Collins, Auckland City councillor and in previous roles has founded youth mentoring programmes
  • Dr Penny Hagen, director of the Auckland Co-design Lab, building public sector capability around participatory approaches and design for equity and intergenerational wellbeing
  • Helen Leahy, pouārahi / chief executive of the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for the South Island, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu and trustee on the board of Pillar (Positive Futures for Children of Prisoners)
  • Lady Tureiti Moxon, Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāti Kahungunu, Kāi Tahu, managing director of Te Kōhao Health, chair of the National Urban Māori Authority, trustee of the Hauraki Primary Health Organisation, and sits on the Puhara Panel to the Ombudsman
  • Grant O'Fee MNZM, former New Zealand Police superintendent, commissioner of the Tongan Police, and current Te Pae Oranga panel member and mentor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring scheme.
  • Rahui Papa, Ngāti Korokī-Kahukura, Waikato-Tainui, recognised authority on Waikato reo and tikanga and has served on the Waikato-Tainui Governance Group since its inception; also plays an integral role in the Iwi Leaders' Forum
  • Khylee Quince, Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, dean of the School of Law at Auckland University of Technology teaching criminal law, youth justice, and Māori legal issues. Khylee is also a member of the Parole Board and current chair of the New Zealand Drug Foundation.
  • Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley FRSNZ, one of New Zealand's leading academics in social change and demography, and a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
  • Anne Waapu, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Hinemanu, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Atihaunui-ā-Pāpārangi, Māori researcher and activist focused on the transformation of Aotearoa's colonial justice system with an interest in constitutional transformation and healing historical and intergenerational trauma.
  • Glenn Wilcox, qualified Hearings Commissioner, co-chair of the Affinity Charitable Trust, and has been a member of the Independent Māori Statutory Board in Tāmaki Makaurau since its inception in 2010.

Members of the research team are: 

  • Dr Lisa Tompson, senior lecturer at Te Puna Haumaru NZ Institute for Security and Crime Science, University of Waikato who has had a career in the crime science field for 15 years.
  • Dr Pounamu Jade Aikman, Ngāti Maniapoto, Tainui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Awa, Pākehā, an independent scholar whose PhD explored the ongoing experiences of racism, colonisation, and state violence towards Ngāi Tūhoe
  • Dr Jacinta Cording, lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Canterbury whose research focuses on the individual, social, and environmental factors associated with crime-related harm, and how to best reduce this harm
  • Hector Kaiwai, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Maniapoto, Tūhoe, BA/BMus and a MA, he has over 15 years experience as a kaupapa Māori researcher and evaluator consultant in the justice, social and health sectors. He has extensive experience in all parts of the research and evaluation process including project management, design, interviewing, data analysis, report writing, and the publication and dissemination of evaluation results.
  • Tarsh Edwards, Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa, Ngāti Rangimatamomoe, Ngāti Rua, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaeke, Ngāti Tautahi, Having previously held roles as principal facilitator, cultural supervisor and senior advisor for the Department of Corrections, she is now working in private practice as cultural supervisor, advisor, facilitator trainer, programme research and designer, programme writer and evaluator.
  • Simon Davies, postdoctoral research fellow at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, the University of Waikato with research experience across the justice sector in New Zealand, including for the Department of Corrections, Ministry of Justice, and New Zealand Police. He completed his PhD at Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington, which looked at the use of risk assessment with men on parole in New Zealand. He is also a registered clinical psychologist and has a law degree.

Coster said, over the next two months, he expected advice from the panel regarding the research scope, approaches, and focus would be provided to the research team and a consensus would be reached on the next steps.

The panel will have its first meeting in June, with terms of reference finalised in July.

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