Why Maori violence won’t change any time soon

MP Meka Whaitiri Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

It’s well known that Maori have terrible domestic violence statistics. Keeping in mind that Maori currently make up roughly 15% of New Zealand’s population, these are the statistics from 2017:

  • 46% of total children with Physical Abuse findings are Māori.
  • 53% of total children with Neglect findings are Māori.
  • 61% of children in care are Māori.
  • Māori children have high rates of hospitalisation due to assault, neglect, and maltreatment
  • 16 of the 37 who died from abuse and neglect between 2009 and 2012 were Māori children
  • Māori children are 6x more likely to die from child abuse or neglect.

Yet year on year, nothing changes. Every few weeks, another baby is beaten to death, another partner is bashed or stabbed. Each time there is outrage and handwringing and we demand more must be done. The problem is not going away.

Why not ?

The answer is right here, right now, with Meka Whaitiri.  This from Radio NZ: Quote:

The government continues to back Ms Whaitiri as an MP, despite the allegations against her.

Labour’s Māori caucus co-chair Willie Jackson told the House he came from a community where forgiveness came first – and they were backing their own.

“As a Māori caucus we stand behind the prime minister, we stand behind Meka Whaitiri, we stand behind the victim if the victim has been hurt,” he said.

National’s Simon O’Connor rounded out the debate, rebuffing the comments made by the coalition defending Ms Whaitiri.

He said this had nothing to do with whether Ms Whaitiri was a mother, Māori or a woman, and everything to do with a claim that someone was assaulted in their workplace.

That is why we continue to have the problems in our society, even around this debate, because people make excuses.

“They make excuses for those who abuse, those who bully. So to the previous speaker, it will stop, when we as Kiwis stop making excuses.”  End of quote.

The Maori caucus has stood by her. Wrapped her in support, despite the bruises on the victim’s arm.

They claim it is their tikanga, the way they operate.  Tell me, is that working well for Maori?  Not according to the statistics.

So I have this to say to Maori caucus. Your support of Meka Whaitiri is wrong. You will never eradicate family violence amongst Maori while you condone violence. In blindly supporting Meka Whaitiri, that is exactly what you are doing, condoning her behaviour.

Don’t close ranks and refuse to address it. Shine a light on it.

Don’t make excuses, don’t minimize it, and especially don’t defend it, because it is indefensible.

Be honest about what happened and be very clear that the behaviour is not acceptable.

I don’t see that happening. Instead, Maori caucus has built a wall around Meka Whaitiri to protect her.

Maori have a history of closing ranks. I’m sure most of New Zealand will remember the Kahui twins, Chris and Cru, who were both beaten to death in 2006, just 3 months old. Both infants had suffered skull fractures from blunt force trauma and Chris had a broken femur. The family closed ranks to protect the perpetrator and refused to cooperate with Police, calling themselves the ‘tight 12’. No-one has ever been held accountable for the deaths of those two little babies.

This is an opportunity for Maori caucus to set an example. You are in government, this is your moment to make a significant difference to the lives and future of Maori who look to you for leadership.

I urge you to do that.

Credit: Te Punui Kokiri


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