The Māori Party is backing the call of the New Zealand Law Society for an inquiry into people choosing to represent themselves in court.
The cost of legal representation is what the Law Society believes is the key reason more people are choosing to represent themselves.
The Māori Party believes a full review of the justice system is overdue.
Māori Party co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell says, “We already know institutional racism exists in the justice system with more Māori and Pasifika people being apprehended, arrested, charged and convicted than Pākeha. This report adds further weight to the view that not everyone has equal access or representation in the justice system.”
The Māori Party says a review would be an opportunity to consider incorporating tikanga Māori into the way the legal structure operates.
It believes a more restorative process across the justice system, particularly in the family court, is needed. The plan is to introduce Whānau Facilitators who will work closely with hapū and iwi, and will support families throughout the family court system.
Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox says,“We support anyone who wants to represent themselves in Court. But, the bottom line is that we need to find out why fewer people have access to legal representation given the expectation of the justice system is that people are represented by a lawyer. We knew more people would start representing themselves as a result of legal aid being cut back. We believe legal aid funding needs to increase to help New Zealanders including minority groups of people who face prejudice in the legal system.”