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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Prison overcrowding raises hard questions

December 21, 2009

A former Corrections head says Maori leaders should challenge why more rangitahi are being sent to prison when community sentences would be far appropriate.

On Friday prison workers union lost an Employment Court case against the Corrections Department clearing the way for double bunking to cope with increasing inmate numbers expected because of tough new government law and order measures.

Kim Workman from Rethinking Crime and Punishment says instead of double bunking, which puts prisoners and guards at risk from rape, murder and suicide, the government should be cutting prison numbers.

He says the measures adopted last week to address the drivers of crime through early intervention are a long term solution when the crisis exists today.

“Sixty percent of people in prison at the moment are there for less than six months. Now, why are they going to prison for property offences and so on. Why aren’t we looking at viable community alternatives that perhaps could be run by iwi authorities in the community. These are the sort of options we need to be looking at,” Mr Workman says.

With 4200 Maori in prison it’s a problem the Maori voice needs to be heard on.


Maori language speakers can expect a little something from Santa.

Maori Television's language immersion channel, Te Reo, will be broadcasting from 7pm to 11pm next year... an extra hour a day, seven days a week.

CEO Jim Mather says when the Maori TV first began broadcasting it focused on attracting as many viewers as possible.

Through Te Reo they can also work on serving fluent Maori speakers.

“It also provides an opportunity for parents to have full immersion reo Maori homes and the Mori Language commission in continually reinforcing that, for the language to strengthen and develop it’s got to be spoken in the homes, and when you’ve got a television channel as we have. On air 7 to 11pm, that provides that opportunity,” Mr Mather says.

The two channels in Maori Television's network complement each other.


Sports broadcaster and community organiser Ken Laban says too much money is going to elite athletes.

Mr Laban is calling for a greater emphasis on keeping rangatahi involved in sport with 52 percent of 14 to 17 year olds leaving sport, never to return.

He says Sport and Recreation New Zealand, SPARC, seems obsessed with spending money on the elite athletes.

“But of course the bigger and stronger the more participants there are at foundation, the more chance for getting champions at the top level. Hence my continuing support for initiatives like Maori sport, pa wars, the rise of waka ama, the increasing participation in sports like touch,” Mr Laban says.

The management of individual sports should reflect the makeup of the people playing the sport, which would see more Maori taking leadership roles in sport.


A Ngati Maniapoto and Ngapuhi man with diversified health sector experience has been chosen to head ALAC, the Alcohol Advisory Council.

Rea Wikaira who grew up in Te Awamutu, chairs an Auckland PHO, has held senior management positions on the Waikato and Counties Manukau District Health Boards and is a former CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

He says alcohol misuse continues to create problems in New Zealand communities, that must learn to moderate use.

New board members include psychologist Dr Ian Millar and long time health advocate Barbara Docherty.


The MP for Te Tai Hauauru says opposition to the inclusion of the letter h in the spelling of Whanganui would disappear if the city’s residents dump mayor Michael Laws.

Tariana Turia says she's confident over time, everyone who lives in the River City will get used to using the correct spelling.

Last week, Lands Information Minister Maurice Williamson announced the Geographic Board would accept either spelling, that's with or without the h, although Crown agencies have been ordered to include the h in any new signage.

Mrs Turia says a change at the top in the next local body elections would certainly increase acceptance of the correct spelling.


The head of Maori Television is rejecting claims the broadcaster is curtailing boxer David Tua's career.

Jim Mather says suggestions that Tua's three-fight deal with the Maori channel denies him more lucrative options, are inaccurate.

He says Maori Television offered the Mangere-based fighter a lifeline when his career was in limbo, and took a back seat to allow the pay per view fight against Shane Cameron.

Mr Mather says developments since have all been sanctioned by Team Tua.


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