Abuse in care inquiry: 'Colonisation is an inherently abusive process'

7:59 pm on 30 October 2019

A prominent Māori lawyer has told the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care that colonisation is the root cause of ongoing abuse of Māori in state care.

Moana Jackson.

Moana Jackson. Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

Moana Jackson's research has involved a comparative study of the imprisonment of indigenous peoples in Canada, the United States and Australia - all countries with similar high incarceration rates.

In New Zealand, Māori men make up 62 percent of the prison population and Māori women 64 percent.

Mr Jackson said the common thread was they all followed the same trajectory of colonisation, with its similar ideologies and practices.

"It's my considered view that the abuse of Māori children in care also arises from the same context as indeed does the abuse of all children - colonisation is an inherently abusive process."

Mr Jackson said colonisation dispossessed people of their lands, lives and power and was a brutal process.

He said the taking of Māori children from their whānau by the state had been both personal and political.

"The presumed right to do so was derived from the same racist presumptions of European superiority that marked colonisation as a whole and the attendant belief that indigenous children needed to be civilised and protected from themselves."

Mr Jackson told the Royal Commission that removing Māori children from their whānau violated the Treaty of Waitangi.

He said the care and protection of Maori children lies with Māori.

"The failure of the Crown to acknowledge that power to protect investing in iwi, hapū and whānau is a continuation of the denial of what the Tiriti actually means."

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