Race in New Zealand

§ Over-representation of Māori in prisons

Māori in New Zealand

aged 15 and over form 12.5% of the population, yet 42% of all criminal apprehensions involve Māori, and 50% of all people in prison are Māori. A report

by Corrections NZ states the following:

Analysis of data from apprehension through prosecution to conviction and finally sentencing confirms that Māori are more likely to be apprehended and more severely punished than non-Māori. As stated above, much of this difference is explicable for reasons that relate to disadvantage rather than ethnicity – but at key stages there is evidence of a degree of over-representation that relates to ethnicity.

Analysis of apprehensions statistics and consideration of the processes leading to apprehension and arrest suggests that apprehension statistics do not directly reflect actual offending behaviour of Māori in the community. Instead there is evidence of a higher probability of Māori offenders being subject to criminal apprehension, and at a younger age. With respect to the conviction and sentencing data however, the available evidence indicates that other factors - particularly seriousness and history of offending - account for most of the observed ethnicity-related differences in the data. However there are signs of small effects at key points, which may well accumulate into a significant effect. There appears to be an issue around the higher than average rates at which Māori appear to plead guilty to offences, as well as lower levels of diversion and entries of “no plea”, which raise questions surrounding access to adequate legal representation at key stages.