Kelvin Davis says police do a 'great job' but shouldn't be armed

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says he and the Labour Māori caucus don't want police in New Zealand to be armed as they "aren't perfect".

The Labour Party's deputy leader was speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday when he was asked about the Armed Response Teams (ARTS).

The six-month trial was launched in October 2019 and planned to focus on crime that caused "significant risk".

But the trial caused controversy after it was revealed the teams largely did the work of normal police, failed to properly record callout data, and had a disproportionate impact on Māori.

Davis told Newshub's political editor Tova O'Brien the Labour Māori caucus had concerns about the trial.

"Well, we just don't think that our police should be armed," he said.

"We believe that they do a great job as it is. And again, they're not perfect and they won't admit to being perfect. But we are fortunate that if our police do, if mistakes are made, they do have a look at what's been done and what can be done better."

He said he doesn't want to see the initiative rolled out.

Davis also commented on how during the trial half of those apprehended by police were Māori.

"Look, I think that there is racism throughout New Zealand in unconscious bias and intolerance within the police force," he said.

"We would be naive to suggest that there isn't across New Zealand."

He says there needs to be a "bridge between the Māori world and the non-Māori world" to help with race relations in New Zealand.

"Māori, in general, have crossed over," he said.

"I understand what goes on in the non-Māori world, but the traffic the other way hasn't really been quite as forthcoming and as Minister of Māori-Crown Relations, my job is to get our government ministries and agency, our departments and our public servants to cross that bridge."

Davis says his vision for New Zealand in 2040, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, is that "New Zealanders are flying across that bridge freely in both languages and comfortable in both worlds".

"Where we need to address racism and intolerance is at either end of the bridge are those people who actually don't want to set foot on it and cross over."

Watch the video for Newshub Nation's full interview with Kelvin Davis.