Minister of Māori Affairs Dr Pita Sharples Launch of Just Speak Report


Published: Rāapa, 02 Haratua, 2012 | Wednesday, 2 May 2012


  • Kim Workman – Executive Director Rethinking Crime and Justice
  • Moana Jackson
  • Sir Eddie Taihakurei Durie
  • Justice Joe Williams
  • JustSpeak members

Last month I was involved in five restorative justice sessions involving a repeat offender. Home invasion, theft, murder, rape. The offending was shocking, taking place over years and affecting generations of families. Tears were shed and emotions high. The victims that day acknowledged that what they had lost could never be returned – and yet, they accepted the offender’s unreserved apology. And they also agreed to work alongside the offender into the future.

Whose generosity and mana was so great they could forgive and move on in partnership with their offender?

The answer is standing before you and also sitting amongst you.

The victims – or survivors – are the families of Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Pahauwera, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whare, Ngāti Manawa. Tribes who settled their historical Treaty of Waitangi grievances with the Crown. Five iwi who forgave years, generations of offending on the 29 March 2012.

The offender? The intergenerational, yet rehabilitated, offender who apologised unreservedly and agreed to work alongside their victims into the future is also represented here tonight. The offender was, of course, the Crown.

Restorative justice in action in the Parliamentary House of Representatives.

A reporter doing a story on the people of Murupara once asked the late Ngāti Manawa leader Bill Bird how the small town would tackle the many problems that lay before them – unresolved Treaty grievances, youth crime, gang problems, crime.

Bill’s reply? “We’ve got to get real. The problem’s real – so the solution has to be real.”

Tonight I want to thank members of JustSpeak for getting real. And with their position paper, Māori and the Criminal Justice System – A Youth Perspective – I want to thank them for urging the rest of us to get real.

The problems are real, so the solutions have to be real.

If young people are perceived to be part of the problem – then they must, you must, be part of the solution.

If Māori are perceived to be part of the problem? Then we must be part of the solution.

Whare Oranga Ake is, like JustSpeak, a new generation response to crime and punishment.

In my role as Associate Corrections Minister I have been proud to see the opening of Whare Oranga Ake reintegration units at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison and Spring Hill Correctional Facility.

Whare Oranga Ake challenges conventional approaches to crime and punishment. We are providing real solutions to real problems.

Maori philosophies and the strength of Maori communities, providing solutions for Māori problems.

A challenge to prisoners, their whānau, and communities, to break the cycle of reoffending. As with Whānau Ora – if you want to take control of your life the first thing you must do is take responsibility for it.

Tonight we witness a new generation of thinkers, who, in looking to the future, have also looked back into the not too distant past, and recognised something many of us have known for years: that Moana Jackson’s 1988 Whaipaanga Hou report was a turning point in the history of our criminal justice system.

Whaipaanga Hou looked at the justice system from a Māori worldview. It argued for the recognition of the impacts of historical and cultural factors upon Māori communities. It recognised that within Māoridom, a communal rather than individualistic approach to justice existed.

Many JustSpeak members were probably not even born when Whaipaanga Hou was released 24-years ago. We have come a long way since then – but as JustSpeak’s report states: we have not come far enough. There is a lot of work to be done but it is reassuring to see that some of our youngest legal minds are putting their hands up to do the work. Like us, they see that the problems are real, so the solutions must be real.

Kia ora koutou, kia ora tātou.


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