Opinion divided if shaming enough for Maori king's son

Last updated 05:00 08/07/2014
Korotangi Paki
PETER DRURY

ROYALTY: King Tuheitia and his son Korotangi Paki.

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Public shaming is punishment enough for the disgraced son of the Maori king, a criminal justice reform organisation says.

Korotangi Paki, 19, last week escaped conviction on drink-driving, theft and burglary charges which he had pleaded guilty to. Judge Philippa Cunningham agreed with Paki's counsel that being convicted would impede his ability to accede to the throne, a decision which has been criticised as special treatment.

A Facebook page called "Send the Maori king's son to jail" has received more than 18,000 likes, and calls for New Zealand's justice system to re-examine the decision.

An online appeal petitioning Prime Minister John Key to send Paki back to court has 3270 supporters.

But advocacy group Rethinking Crime and Punishment says the public discussion surrounding Paki's discharge without conviction is forgetting the devastating impact of public shaming. In a blog post, the organisation looks at the history of public shaming in New Zealand and calls on the Government to reduce shaming and stigmatising of offenders to reduce the crime and reoffending rate.

"The research on the impact of public shaming is pretty clear," Rethinking spokesman Kim Workman said.

"What it tells us is that for the most part, public shaming has the opposite effect to that intended, especially when it is applied to the marginalised and powerless within our community."

At that level, such shaming amounted to no more than stigmatisation, and the result was offenders felt less ashamed and more comfortable in their role as one of society's "outsiders", he said.

"For low-level marginalised offenders, widespread television and media coverage only serves to further stigmatise and increase the likelihood of future reoffending," he said.

Paki's shame was the topic of discussion within the 65 Tainui marae, which would make his road to redemption much more difficult, Workman said.

"His acceptance back into that tribal community will be a long and difficult path, and he will have to prove himself in order to restore dignity and respect to his father and whanau," he said.

". . . shame is the punishment. Nothing else the court can do will equal the severity of his sentence."

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