A lower North Island iwi leader is supporting a justice reform group, which recommends alternatives to prison sentences for people in trouble with the law.
The group, JustSpeak, aims to start a national debate about how to fix the court system, which it says is sending too many people to prison, where there's little chance of meaningful rehabilitation.
It reports that it costs New Zealanders more than $97,000 a year to incarcerate one person.
Te Atiawa chair Neville Baker said that money could be invested by allowing prisoners to take up education rather than going to prison.
He believes trade training for example can arm people with new skills and help some of them stay away from the justice system.