Metiria’s curious parallel universe

There has been a distinct browning of the Greens, in recent days, with the election of Metiria Turei as co-leader. It’s become more a khaki party now than a green one.

She was banging on this morning about attracting more Maori to her party, thanks to her election, and said something about the Greens always being a pro-Maori party.

A pro-Maori party? That sounds suspiciously like a party which shapes its policies around racial considerations rather than – say – environmental or conservationist ones.

Is it a good thing to be thinking pro-Maori, anti-Maori or whatever, rather than thinking about what’s best for our country?

Alf’s suspicions about Turei’s agenda were heightened a few weeks ago when she aired the idea of a “parallel Maori justice system”.

“The establishment of a Maori justice system that runs alongside the existing legal system – using the education system as a model – will help to eliminate the impact of this systemic racial profiling, reduce the unjust imprisonment of many Maori and stem Maori reoffending.”

The Government should work with Maori organisations and experts such as Moana Jackson to establish a tikanga Maori justice system, Mrs Turei said.

Paul Holmes questioned her about this on q and a on Sunday, asking if she wanted a separate justice system for Maori.

Her answer –

No that’s not the case, we’ve proposed a parallel Maori justice system that maintains the one law for all concept, but works like kohangareo do, and works like kurakaupapa do, a system that runs alongside the existing system – 60% of women in prison are Maori women, clearly something is very wrong in our legal system that creates those kinds of circumstances, so let’s look at different ways and explore different ways of dealing with it.

Her reasoning, accordingly, is that if we have that many Maori women in prison, it’s not because that many Maori women have broken the law – it’s because something is wrong with the legal system.

Solution: create a new legal system. Just for them.

Sounds like bollocks to Alf.

PAUL: So if you’re Maori you get one kind of punishment, if you’re Pakeha or someone else you get another kind of punishment. Clayton Cosgrove says New Zealanders want criminals punished according to their crimes not according to their race.

METIRIA: Yes and Clayton Cosgrove isn’t the most rational when it comes to these kinds of issues. If you look at what we have said about our policy – by dealing with the fact that there is some bias in the system, by enabling Maori to take responsibility for their communities and by being aware that no single solution will ever be okay for every single person, whether Maori or Pakeha, that we do have the option for talking about different alternatives in the different ways of doing things. Pita Sharples has recommended a kind of Maori rehabilitation system.

PAUL: Maori prisons.

METIRIA: Ones that are in prison already, and ones outside of that, we think that that’s worth exploring.

PAUL: Can I just get you on the record on this. Do you want effectively a separate Maori justice system – yes or no?

METIRIA: No, and I’ve said repeatedly that that’s not our policy and that’s not what we said. We talked about a system that runs parallel just like kura and kohangareo and the wananga do, so under the state system but with Maori being involved in how those kinds of institutions might be run, but also recognising that our current legal system fails many of our community, Maori and Pakeha.

And there we have it.

She is in favour of a “parallel” system – but not a “separate” one.

But hee’s the thing: take note of the l’s in the word “parallel”. They run parallel to each other. And there’s a gap between them.

This Turei woman obviously comes from another planet. Here’s betting she can draw two parallel lines, too, then look down the barrel of a tv camera, and tell us they are not separate.

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