The Maori Party is happy to go along with some forms of institutional racism.
Indeed, it encourages them and will excoriate critics who suggest they be got rid of.
It all depends on the nature of the outcome and who are the beneficiaries.
Winston Peters spotted a few of the Maori Party’s favoured forms of racism early this year (and for his troubles was denounced by the Maori Party, the greenies and the lefties).
Mr Peters, speaking at Ratana Pa, says his party would never support “separatist” Maori Party policies such as having separate Maori units in prison, the separate Maori social welfare system Whanau Ora and the Tino Rangatiratanga Flag.
Mr Peters says he could not work with the Maori Party as long as it keeps “separatist” policies.
“You can’t have a Crown that’s composed of two different groups – the rest and Maori. Either we’re all together or we’re all going to be separate,” he says.
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell took care of Peters’ remarks by saying that what Peters has to say on such issues is pretty much irrelevant today.
This, of course, increasingly has become true. Our society has eagerly and fondly embraced racially divisive arrangements so long as they can be promoted as positive discrimination.
Flavell knows this only too well.
He mentioned another one – our race-based electoral arrangements to favour indigenous persons.
He says Mr Peters in the past has supported Maori seats in Parliament and has then believed they’re racist and should be taken out.
“I don’t stand too much on what Mr Peters has to say with respect of those issues,” he says.
So when will Flavell flail against institutionalised racism?
Well, he is doing it this week on the matter of the justice system.
The new Minister of Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell is calling for a review of the justice system as young Maori become increasingly over represented in youth crime statistics.
Fewer young offenders are fronting the judge but young Maori are making up more of those who do pass through the justice system.
Latest Ministry of Justice figures show the number of children and young people charged in Youth Court is the lowest in 20 years. However, as the number drops, the figures show the proportion of young Maori compared with non-Maori is rising.
Six years ago, Maori represented 48 per cent of youths facing charges in the Youth Court. The latest figures reveal that has jumped to 57 per cent.
And so Flavell simply insists the justice system continues to be stacked against young Maori. He prefers not to consider the possibility that young Maori proportionally are committing more crimes than young non-Maori.
A review of the justice system was long overdue and would back up the research and statistics that indicated there was institutional racism in the justice system, he said. “I believe that for many Maori, the justice system is filled with bias, prejudice and institutional racism.”
Flavell said the failure to address institutional racism was a factor in the increasing rate of representation of young Maori in the justice system.
“Maori are four to five times more likely to be apprehended, prosecuted and convicted than non-Maori counterparts, and in the case of Maori aged between 10 and 13 this is six times more likely. How can we ignore the existence of institutional racism in the justice system in the face of facts like these?”
Outgoing Police Minister Anne Tolley – splendid lady – disputed the claims of racism.
“Police prosecute people because they commit a crime, not because of their race,” she said.
“There are a number of factors that explain Maori over-representation in the criminal justice system, including a number of gangs that have very high Maori membership.
“These gangs are responsible for high levels of serious crimes, they have high re-offending rates and their children are at high-risk of abuse and juvenile offending.”
But when the New Plymouth District Council decided to establish a Maori ward – or introduce a race-based component to the city’s electoral system – the Maori Party was delighted.
“This is a giant leap forward for democracy for tāngata whenua in the northern Taranaki district and will ensure that a Māori voice is heard at the Council table,” says Co-leader Tariana Turia.
It is to be noted that Turia did not say this was a leap forward for democracy.
No, it was a leap forward for democracy for tangata whenua.
She further said this would “ensure” Maori representation.
Indeed it does. Our indigenous persons have been spared the need to compete for a position on the council.
Flavell chimed in on the subject too.
“When Māori are the minority in any community it is vital that there is a guaranteed pathway for an independent Māori voice. We congratulate the NPDC who now join Environment Bay of Plenty and the Waikato Regional Council who also have Māori representation in their arrangements,” says Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.
“It is heartening to see more local bodies taking such as inclusive approach so that Māori can participate in the decision-making process. I encourage the citizens of the NPDC to embrace this decision and see a Māori voice at the table as crucial to democracy.”
Yep. We heard the old canard about the Maori ward enabling Maori citizens to participate in the decision-making process.
The fact is they could always do precisely that. They have never been barred from voting or from standing for election.
We must suppose the Maori ward has been welcomed as one more of the acceptable forms of institutional racism.