Māori-focused prison initiative to target high security inmates

Two prisons in Northland and Hawke's Bay will shift to a Māori-focused model at a cost ofamst $100 million over four years.

The Government says it will help reach its target of reducing the prison population by 30 percent in 15 years.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says that's what will help stop some of these men returning to prison.

"The idea is that from the start of their sentence to the end of their sentence they have a Māori pathway that grounds them in their culture, their language but also brings their whanau along," he said.

The "Māori Pathway" initiative will cost $98 million and itsamis to cut our shameful prison rates.

It will be put in place at prisons in Ngawha and the Hawke's Bay, targeting those most likely to reoffend - high security inmates.

Davis says it's an entire system shift to a kaupapa Māori approach and will be "whanau-centred".

The model will be co-designed by iwi and hapu but Brian Tamaki won't get a look in, according to Davis.

"Look we're not into short term programmes what we're doing is changing the system," said Davis.

It's not exclusive to Māori but National's Corrections spokesman says Davis is trying to give special treatment to Māori.

"We need a consistent prison system that is there for all people and if we were looking at people stopping people getting into prison let's look at the drivers of crime atamch earlier stage," said David Bennett.

The "Māori Pathway" model includes trauma and mental health support, rehabilitation, housing support on the outside and extra support workers to guide prisoners and whanau through the system.

A spokesman for the Corrections Minister said under the scheme prisoners could be given extra time out of their cells and visit times for whanau may be extended.

It will initially focus on Māori men aged under 30 before being extended to all 1300 inmates at Ngawha and Hawke's Bay.


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