Labour Māori Caucus against armed police officers - Willie Jackson

Labour's Māori Caucus has voiced its concerns about the general arming of New Zealand police officers.

A six-month trial of the country's first armed police officers - the Armed Response Teams (ARTs) - was launched in October. Then-Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the teams would focus on any crime that caused "significant risk".

But Labour Māori Caucus co-chair Willie Jackson said it's discussed its concerns about the trial with Police Minister Stuart Nash.

"The Labour Māori Caucus made our view very clear that we are totally opposed to the general arming of our police force," Jackson said.

He said there's a feeling the ART trial commenced with a lack of consultation - especially with Māori.

Documents obtained by Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint last week revealed disadvantages to Māori were one of the risks identified by those overlooking the trial.

Jackson said any form of racism is unacceptable in any organisation.

"Continuing the conversation around intolerance and racism is crucial to Aotearoa New Zealand recovery post-COVID-19, and the Labour Māori Caucus will do our part, to make sure that happens," Jackson said.

ARTs were designed to respond more quickly to armed offenders in the wake of last year's March 15 Christchurch shootings.

"The operating environment has changed, particularly since March 15," Cmmr Bush said at the time.

Trialed in Auckland, Waikato, and Canterbury, ARTs were meant to focus on guns and high-risk crime. But Newshub Nation revealed at the weekend from October last year to January, firearms offences made up less than 3 percent of incidents attended by armed police.

Of nearly 500 people apprehended, more than half didn't have a weapon, and just 14 percent carried a gun.

"While we await the evaluation of the ART pilot later in June, the Labour Māori Caucus will continue to support strengthened conversations between iwi and the police, as we follow through with our relationship with Minister Nash, to ensure the voices of our whānau, hapū, and iwi are heard," said Meka Whaitiri, the other co-chair of Labour's Māori Caucus.