15 Oct 2015

Higher rates of Maori deaths on NZ roads

2:47 pm on 15 October 2015

The National Urban Māori Authority is calling for an investigation into the rates in which Māori die on roads.


Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Māori make up just under 15 percent of the population, yet accounted for about half the number of road fatalities in the past 10 years where alcohol or speed were involved.

About 840 Māori were killed in crashes between 2004 and 2014, where alcohol or speed were a factor. In that same period 1673 non-Māori died.

The authority's chairman Willie Jackson said the statistics came at no surprise to him, and the government should take action.

"It almost goes into the too hard basket for the government and governments are getting more and more nervous about providing specialised funding, or having specific targeting around Māori for fear of being called racist and separatists," he said.

"The reality is that too many of our people are dying on the roads. We've known this now for over a decade. What's the government response to that?"

He acknowledged the socio-economic conditions may also play a part in the statistics. "The reality is that the majority of those poor are Māori."

"I've seen, particularly in South Auckland, literally hundreds of Māori drivers who won't go and get their licence because its always too expensive," he said.

"If they're not doing that they're not reading the road code and then you get the obvious consequences."

Mr Jackson said to address the Māori road toll, the government must roll out consistent education messages targeting Māori.

The Transport Agency has launched road safety advertisements for Māori before, with the latest running from 2003 to 2011 in the Northland region.

But the agency said the strategies for reducing crashes were aimed at everyone - across all ages and ethnicities.

"Road safety outcomes are not distinguished by ethnicity, and strategies for reducing crashes and casualties involve a whole range of interventions - safer roads and roadsides, safer vehicles, safer speeds and safer road use."

National road policing operations manager Peter McKennie said the factors contributing to serious crashes were common to all people in society.

"These include high risk driving behaviours such as speeding, alcohol and drug impaired driving, distraction, fatigue, not wearing seat belts, crossing the centre line and unsafe passing. These things are all preventable," he said.

The Transport Agency has no official Māori road toll, and the statistics available were based on police assumptions on race.