Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is 'discrimination' okay?

Really interesting article on 3News tonight about a hui for the Ministry of Justice on Maori crime, that Pakeha have been 'banned' from.

The story tells of lawyer Moana Jackson who 20 years ago, wrote a report for the then Department of Justice on Maori offending, Mr. Jackson says that the recommendations of that report have never been followed intimating that the problems we have with Maori offending today may be able to be linked with that non-action. Mr. Jackson is pushing for a separate Maree based justice system and claims that longer prison sentences and more prisons won't help Maori offending.

One un-named manager in the Ministry of Justice in Hawkes Bay has stated that they will not be releasing their Maori staff to go to this hui, Moana Jackson has called this "unhelpful" and "short sighted"

This raises so many questions for me as I can sit here and see both sides of the argument.

Firstly if this was a conference on women's issues, that only women were allow to wouldn't be in the news. One has to assume that it is in the news because it is being seen as 'discrimination', one could also assume that is why the manager from Hawkes Bay isn't allowing his Maori staff to attend, but seeing all discrimination is deemed the same in the eyes of the law, if you agree that an 'all women' conference wouldn't raise eyebrows...why does this? Race, Religion, Sex, Sexual Orientation and Age are the big five of discrimination...they are all deemed to be equal.

Secondly, there is a feeling that I hear throughout New Zealand that we constantly say that "Maori should sort out their problems with crime and violence!!!"...and now that they want to address it themselves...why the issue?

On the flip side...if this is a Ministry of Justice hui is looking at helping with the issue of Maori crime, and Pakeha within the ministry are involved with that area, then it seems a little ludicrous to ban them from the meeting, rather than having them involved for the betterment of the issue

And finally, one question on the concept of 'helping with Maori offending'. I guess for me, one of the questions I'd like to see addressed is one step back from that concept which is...Do we want to focus on 'helping' with Maori offending (or any group of offenders), or do we want to focus our attention at this time on punishing all offenders?