11 Mar 2021

Māori Party calls for Royal Commission into police photographs

5:53 pm on 11 March 2021

The Māori Party has called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into racial profiling of tangata whenua by police.

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Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

It comes off the back of an RNZ investigation which found the rangatahi of seven Māori whānau, some as young as 14, were stopped by police and had their photograph taken.

A frontline police officer said it was part of a bid to crack-down on youth crime by collecting intelligence of any young person, and they believed Māori and Pasifika were being targeted.

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said police had also admitted to using pain to subdue Māori more than any other ethnicity.

"Our people do not stand a chance against the might of the Crown when they are being intentionally targeted just because they are brown and they definitely don't stand a chance when the Ministry continues to turn a blind eye to systemic racism that is happening right under their nose," he said.

He called for Royal Commission into racial profiling by police, to understand how it is occurring and what the plan is to address it.

Police Minister Poto Williams said officers should be acting without racial bias.

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi asked during Question Time for Williams to assure te ao Māori that racial bias would not influence the treatment of Māori by police.

Labour's Kelvin Davis, speaking on behalf of the police minister, said the Minister did not support racial profiling and expected that officers act without bias.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner are also looking into the practice of police photographing people, and this week the scope of their investigation to include any member of the public, not just young people.

  • Police photos of young people raise concerns over facial recognition technology
  • Police photographing inquiry extends to wider public's experiences
  • Police deny racial profiling after accounts of youths being stopped and photographed