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Why is there growing crime in New Zealand? July 21, 2023

Why is there growing crime in New Zealand? Why is Māori offending over represented in this trend?

Why hasn’t our society been able to solve the problem, is there a piece to the puzzle that we are missing?

Well, what New Zealand society fails to recognise is that the seeds of what is happening today began well over 100 years ago.

Subsequent colonial government’s and New Zealand government’s policies proved harmful to Māori and concentrated on disenfranchising Māori from their land holdings coupled with a colonial sentiment that unfortunately lingers on to this day, a sentiment that has contempt for Māori and sees them as a people,“less than, undeserving”.

These actions and sentiments have relegated Māori and forced them to the very margins of society for a dozen decades.

In fact there has been enacted over 350 harmful acts of parliament from 1840 to 2020 against Māori. However, some may argue that many of those acts have been repealed and some wrongs have been righted through the Waitangi tribunal process.

Unfortunately, even if acts have been repealed, the damage is done and the trauma is passed on inter-generationally and settlements by the Crown with Māori are woefully inadequate with a 2% -3% average in reconcilation of what Māori lost.

Successive governments have consistently failed to address equity for Māori in health, education, housing and other fundamentals of living.

The accumulated effect of all these malevolent actions and omissions has been a sustained ratcheting up of pressure on Māori. As illustrated in the diagram below showing an upside down triangle with Māori represented at the apex, over time as more harmful actions and sentiments are sustained and more pressure comes to bear upon Māori, in fact every new generation must endure more pressure than the previous generation due to accumulated pressure effect.

So, when the housing crisis and the cost of living crisis is thrown into the mix, its no surprise that Māori offending increases! It’s amazing that we don’t see more offending and societal breakdown. Although, how much longer can Māori endure this pressure, we have been witnessing societaal cracks for decades, only today those cracks are getting bigger.

This problem took over 100 years to create and it wont be fixed overnight. I am a firm believer in that a problem presents its own solution. Therefore the obvious solution here is for those sections of New Zealand society holding onto negative sentiments against Māori need to transmute them into positive sentiment or if unwilling to change, we must wait until those unhelpful sentiments day with them. Additionally, New Zealand government and society need to accept its connection to its contribution to the problem and commit to long term meaningful investment in Māori prosperity however Māori define what that looks like for them.

Only then, I believe will you begin to see a better balanced New Zealand not just for Māori but for all New Zealanders.

By Rangi Ahipene