Māori MPs want Māori whānau court

By Mānia Clarke
  • Auckland

Māori MPs from the Māori Party, Labour, and the Greens want to establish a Māori Whānau Court. This follows a call by kaumātua from Te Puea Marae to have the pending court case against their chair Hurimoana Dennis heard on a marae.

Māori party co-leader Marama Fox says she supports Te Puea Marae elders who want to settle an upcoming alleged kidnapping charge against their chairman Hurimoana Dennis through Māori protocol.

“We've seen how Hurimoana has advocated for homeless families who've been struggling themselves. There's no better place than the marae to hold his court case.”

Māori MPs Marama Davidson and Peeni Henare also support their call.

Davidson says, “The Green Party has supported establishing restorative justice models on marae and amongst communities for whānau and youth.”

Henare says, “That's a good idea, a noble thought to see these matters settled on the marae, so we need to decide if it can be done.”

In 2008, the first Rangatahi Court was held on a marae, incorporating te reo Māori and Māori protocol, to reduce reoffending by Māori youth. Marama Fox says she has discussed establishing a Māori Whānau Court with the Minister of Justice Amy Adams.

“The law remains the same, we don't want to change that, but, the way the case is heard will be done under Māori customs. That's what I've discussed with the minister,” says Fox.

Te Kāea contacted the Justice Minister Amy Adams for comment, but she was unavailable and unable to comment.

The three MPs say they're keen to work with all Māori MPs and the minister to further discuss a strategy for an alternative Māori Whānau Court.

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