Māori Party 'flattered' Labour adopting Māori prison idea

Māori-only prisons could be the thing that unites Labour and the Māori Party.

Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says taking a kaupapa Māori approach to corrections has long been a Māori Party policy, and now that Labour's Kelvin Davis is floating the idea, the parties could work together.

"Clearly we're aligned, they've aligned with Māori Party policy so we could work with that," Mr Flavell says.

"We're flattered that the Labour Party has taken up an idea that the Māori Party has promoted."

Mr Davis says it's a "courageous" idea that will need support from across parliamentary parties.

The concept was first introduced about seven years ago by Mr Flavell's predecessor, former Māori Party leader Sir Pita Sharples.

Mr Davis has floated Ngawha Prison as the perfect place to start, where he says more than 50 percent of Māori inmates are Ngāpuhi.

Mr Flavell says it should go further than just one prison.

"I think that probably we should be looking at it in a far wider space than just Ngawha, because Māori are not just in the north."

Māori make up 52 percent of the prison population across New Zealand.

Penal researcher Kim Workman approves of the plan, but acknowledges it could be a hard sell for voters.

"The public has to accept that what we're currently doing is not working. It's time to give something like that a go. We can't go on like this it's an absolute disaster.

"We've got nothing to lose, it's not working now. We actually need to be radical about this and do something that Māori have been asking for, for well over 40 years.

"When Māori experience the principles and values that underlines their own culture, often that will bring about a cultural transformation which will lead to a more law-abiding person."

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