Kiingitanga and Corrections unite to assist Māori offenders

By Mānia Clarke
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

In a historic first the Kiingitanga has signed an accord with Corrections to reduce recidivism and reintegrate released prisoners with affiliations to the Kiingitanga. King Tuheitia's private secretary, Te Rangihīroa Whakaruru says the agreement changes the way the Kiingitanga does business with the government department. 

Today's signing between King Tuheitia and the Corrections Minister marks a partnership to improve outcomes for Māori offenders.

Whakaruru says, “We don't want a handout.  Cause our people inside your facilities they need a handout, they need to get out.”

Minister of Corrections Louise Lupton says, “We want to make more of an impact and the Kiingitanga will help us to that and then when they leave when they go home to their families and communities.”

50% of male prisoners are Māori, more than 60% are Māori women. The recidivism rate for Māori is 10% higher than non-Māori. The agreement aims at sharing resources to rehabilitate offenders who affiliate to Waikato-Tainui and the 24 Kīngitanga iwi.

Corrections CEO Ray Smith says, ”The Kiingitanga already has gone through Waikato-Tainui is the waka competition and festival.  We'd like the Māori men in Springhill prison to play a big part in the next festival.  Carving ara waka in the first instance.  Doing the work on that over maybe a two year period and I know the Kiingitanga movement have got resources set aside to support this activity.”

Waikato-Tainui received a tax-free concession as part of their deed settlement signed in 1995.  King Tuheitia wants those tax concessions to help the tribes.

Whakaruru confirms, “That's what the King believed his mother signed was to give us the means to help.  We want to put on the table lands, resources and people.” 

Smith says, “I'm really concerned about Māori women having safe homes to go to.  We've talked about land that could be made available through the Kiingitanga, maybe corrections could place housing on where together we could mentor the women and they can get their families and children there.” 

The Kīngitanga will decide on suitable Waikato land to get the safe housing initiatives underway over the next few months.