Waikato-Tainui pledges action on Maori crime

SIENA YATES
Last updated 07:47 15/12/2012

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Too many Maori are committing crimes, are the victims of crime, or are dying on our roads, and police and iwi are joining forces to correct it.

Waikato-Tainui has said: "Enough talking, more action" and will work closely with police in the new year on what it believes are the two problem areas for the region's Maori.

"We have two big issues here. Youth offending, as 75 per cent of our tribal population or demographic is under 35, and also domestic violence happening in our homes," said Waikato-Tainui chief executive Parekawhia McLean.

"We've been talking for some time about getting someone from police to come in to the tribe to help us work on our own iwi action plan, and now I've got that commitment from police to do that, we have a plan in place and it's all looking very positive."

As well as a member of police she hoped people from Child Youth and Family and the ministries of social development and education will join the tribe's "holistic approach".

This comes after The Turning of the Tide - a Whanau Ora Crime and Crash Prevention Strategy was rolled out by the police commissioner's Maori Focus Forum this week.

Waikato-Tainui, police, local organisation and community members and even Kingi Tuheitia met yesterday morning to discuss the region plan, but in the same morning two of the initiative's target audience were arrested and charged with drink-driving in the same car in Hamilton.

City Commander Inspector Greg Nicholls said two Maori women were arrested, one for driving while disqualified, and both for excess breath alcohol.

"The overnight arrest of these two young Maori women highlights what the Turning of the Tide initiative, a Whanau Ora Crime and Crash Prevention Strategy, is all about, trying to prevent Maori over representation in crime and crashes," he said.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said statistics show a clear need to address the issues.

"Maori now comprise more than 40 per cent of all police apprehensions, more than [half] of the prison population and more than 20 per cent of crash fatalities, despite making up only 15 per cent of the general population," he said.

"It wasn't always like this and everyone recognises things need to change."

The Turning of the Tide has developed new strategies to do just that, including whanau and iwi education, youth mentoring programmes, and making it harder for youth to get hold of things like alcohol or drugs.

They are aiming to lower Maori first-time offenders by 10 per cent, apprehensions by a quarter, and repeat offenders and crash casualties by 20 per cent.

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Waikato district commander Win Van der Velde said they would "work collectively on current issues but also on causation and work towards better long-term outcomes, together".

- © Fairfax NZ News

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