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Maori criminal offending is a Maori problem

According to the sensible sentencing trust "Maori criminal offending is a Maori problem – and only they can fix it" amid a debate that is growing across the country.

"Lately Uncle Tom Cobley and all have opined about the causes of the high rate of Maori criminal recidivism. The Waitangi Tribunal says it’s the government’s fault. The Maori Party says it’s down to “institutional racism”. A retired Maori probation officer says it’s the fault of the Corrections Department. Sensible Sentencing says that is all nonsense." says the Trust

“Firstly, such claims are an insult to the many thousands of Maori families who realize that the key to their kids’ advancement in life is education, and who do everything to encourage their children to attain the skills necessary to live a good productive and law abiding life in the modern world” said Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar.

“We have had a free secular education system to High School level for every New Zealander for going on eighty years. Maori, along with white children and others of the many races now making up New Zealand, all start equally in the school system at age five. As soon as five years later, but certainly by High School, there are stark differences – most Asian children achieving well above the average, many Maori children well below” McVicar says.

“Why is that? It can’t be language – Maori children are now invariably brought up with English as their first language, whereas Asian children may struggle to learn in English at first. I simply do not accept that there is any ‘institutional racism’ in our school system – except perhaps some positive discrimination in favour of Maori Children in an effort to help them achieve” said McVicar.

“Let’s face up to reality: Asian children achieve much better on average than their European and Maori classmates because Asian families greatly value educational achievement. Sadly, in many Maori homes, trying to succeed at school is derided as ‘acting white’ and actively discouraged. Kids leaving school – whatever their race – with poor levels of attainment are going to struggle…that is a reality. And sadly more Maori kids leave school without qualifications than other kids. That’s where the problems start” McVicar says.

“While kids of all races join gangs, again the reality is that most of the youth gangs are Maori or Polynesian rather than white or Asian. According to the Maori Party, such gangs are just another form of whanau, and that’s why kids join. Well, if the Mongrel Mob “whanau” is better than any prospect member’s actual whanau, whose fault is that? We say it’s not the government’s or the Police’s or the courts’ – it is the parents.”

“Some Maori blame Corrections – just exactly what are they supposed to do with inmates whose values are those of the gang, and who sneer and laugh at the values of ordinary members of society? Corrections staff are not miracle workers, and sadly by the time an adult gang member first comes to prison it is probably too late” said McVicar.

“Maori leaders are always telling us that non Maori should keep out of Maori issues; that they know best how to deal with their own people. Well, seven years after the latest miracle programme Whanau Ora was introduced, Maori achievement rates are no better than they were, and if anything, gang membership and imprisonment rates have got worse, not better”

“Maori need to stop blaming everyone and everything but themselves for Maori failure and start taking a long hard analytical look at themselves - and at Maori role models, there is no shortage of them. It may be that the message of people like author Alan Duff is one many Maori leaders don’t want to hear…if so that is a tragedy, and Maori children will continue to find themselves at the bottom of the economic heap, and in prison.”

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