15 Sep 2015

Iwi 'could do a much better job' of running prison

8:33 am on 15 September 2015

A Hawke's Bay iwi is keen to one day run the area's prison, saying it could operate it more effectively than the Department of Corrections.

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Photo: 123RF

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi said the Crown had done little to address the high rate of reoffending, or to cut the number of tāngata whenua in prison.

The iwi is one of two tribes in the rohe backing a retired probation officer's urgent Waitangi Tribunal 'corrections claim', alleging the Crown had failed to cut the high number of Māori in prison and their rates of reoffending.

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi chair Ngahiwi Tomoana said it had the capability to run the local prison and provide better rehabilitation for tāngata whenua, by applying the Māori world view.

"From a Ngāti Kahungunu point of view we have one prison stuck right in the middle of our rohe. One day we would like to think we could operate it and more efficiently and effectively than is currently being done - the Corrections pre-sentencing and post - and I think we can do a much better job than is happening right now. What's happening right now is shameful."

Mr Tomoana said Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi could alternatively take a personalised approach for its own people.

"If I had to term it anything I'd call it 'taking down the walls' and over time, just like our kaumatua did, my predecessors in this position did before me. Well, if it's costing $5 million a year to run the prison, give us half and we'll keep our people out.

"Based on that thinking, I'd like to pursue that and explore options that are more effective for the whole community and for the Government as well."

Mr Tomoana said the rangatahi court system was a good step in the right direction, but more progress was required.

"I think they're working and I think they're a good example of the evolution of the process, it's not the end, but I think it's a turning point and there needs to be more of that and more encouragement of the positive things that are happening in the systems which the mainstream system seems to resist any change at all.

"But there are some positive changes and I'm enthusiastic about promoting and accelerating them even further and them proliferating throughout all our communities."