17 Jun 2014

Colonisation a 'factor' in abuse report

9:40 pm on 17 June 2014

An inquiry has found that the cause behind the high rate of child abuse and domestic violence amongst Maori is rooted in colonisation.

The first report of the $3 million Glenn Inquiry called the 'People's Report' into social problems was released on Monday and a blueprint for change would be released later in the year.

The report points to widespread dysfunction in the courts, particularly the Family Court, and broken, poorly resourced and disconnected social services as barriers to dealing with the problem of abuse.

The testimony of 500 survivors, frontline workers and offenders was recorded to highlight the depth of the problem and calls for a national strategy.

The report says Maori culture holds tamariki and wahine in high esteem. However, European colonisation taught tangata whenua new ways of privileging men - rendering women and children as possessions and contributing to male violence against them.

The report found that Pakeha influence of encouraging rural whanau to move to the city made them feel isolated and disconnected from their culture and extended families, which resulted in breaking down their spirit and mana.

The report says a culture of silence and a sense of shame has become inter-generational. It advocates reconnecting Maori communities, providing them with well-funded, long-term support and rebuilding tikanga and Maori identity.

It calls for a national stance - including by political parties - of zero tolerance on violence, with an overhaul of agencies which are failing to protect, help, or understand the victims of violence.

The inquiry's chief panellist, Marama Davidson, said a kaupapa Maori approach could help provide solutions. She said there was no way people can be violent against women and children if they view them as taonga.

Read the full report here