Why Action station’s report is flawed

Tēnā koutou katoa,
The ActionStation report, “They’re our Whānau” came out a week ago, and has already been cited by the major networks and the government as being accurate, well researched and likely to be a building block of policy.

This concerns me greatly; it confirms that social science has now become more about subjective perspective with political/ideological buzzwords, rather than providing objective analysis.

You may understand little unless you read the report, which can be found here:

Now, I am just a boy from Glen Innes, and this response is from my ability to read, think and form an opinion based on my experience and the ‘rattling of head marbles’.

What is this report so loved by the Labour/NZ First/Greens government? quote.

They’re Our Whānau is a collaborative research project that compiles the perspectives of over 900 Māori participants. end quote.

My first issue? The ‘data’ comes from opinions and subjective thought; nicely worded and, just coincidentally, following what ActionStation believes…

The data were collected in four ways:

  1. Seven expert interviews conducted by fourth year medical students.
  2. An online survey –  the surveys were promoted through the ActionStation mailing list, adverts on Facebook and by outreach to hapū and iwi groups.
  3. A literature review.
  4. Attendance at the government’s Safe and Effective Justice Summit in Porirua.

What are the issues with these collection methods?

1. Expert interviews. We know nothing about the experts apart from their roles, and while I have a great respect for a couple of them (based on my suspicion of who they might be), I am willing to bet that to be included meant that they already substantially agreed with ActionStation ideology since the selected commentary agrees with their narrative. There is a significant concern that this is a coordinated narrative and is not balanced.

2. Online survey. That seemed OK until I read that all 900 respondents were from the mailing list of ActionStation, ActionStation outreach to iwi and hapū, and Facebook ads. I am Te Ātiawa, Ngati Raukawa, and I do not recall seeing any ads for this survey; however I may have missed them.

Regarding the ActionStation mailing list and ActionStation outreach; I have trained hundreds of survey interviewers, and data collection needs to be garnered without the hint of any leanings or bias. The mailing list and the ActionStation outreach to iwi and hapū implies there is a very high likelihood of bias or at least of compromised data.

3. Literature review. The literature comprises four ‘documents’, one of which was a set of notes written down from the recently held “Justice summit”. One comment noted that Andrew Little’s summit was little more than the “most remarkable display of self-interest” (Andrew Dickens, 23/8) and the summit itself blew out budget costs (1.6 million taxpayers’ dollars; over twice the budgeted amount). It was also noted that victim concerns were replaced with offender concerns. Victims make a very small appearance in this report.

Aside from the collection of notes, the literature included a report from lawyer Dr Moana Jackson, from Matua Tom Hemopo, and the last was from scientist Dr Peter Gluckman. Of these, I respect Matua Tom’s research the most in terms of frontline and the makeup of the paper; I don’t agree with all of his theories, but I do respect him the most. I have a bias towards the frontline…we all have a bias!

4. Conference attendance.  Attendance at this costly conference somehow adds to the report? Really? The literature review already contains scribbled notes from it, so attendance is…what…’padding’ to the report to make it look ‘cooler’?

As we can see, the report is already flawed. In the interests of attention-span and space practicality, I will respond to the first couple of executive summary points and then a few ideological terms that have freshly arrived on the academic express.

The Executive summary:

The justice system is a tool of colonisation

Let us get this straight – colonisation is not a white thing. It isn’t a black, brown, red, yellow or purple thing. It is a human thing, a human process that has occurred throughout time as people groups influence other people groups, whether by trade, conquest, cultural spread, or other means. Colonisation occurred between iwi, often with great violence including warfare, slavery and cannibalism. I for one am glad that we are part of western culture: that articulation of Judeo-Christian values/ethics combined with Greek democracy.

Regarding the justice system brought in by colonialism, I am cool with that; I am pretty happy with the idea that if a man rapes a child, the justice system seeks to put the rapist into prison and keep the community safe.

The narrative of colonisation being ‘against Māori’ is inaccurate, counter-productive and more than tinged with racism.

Institutional racism results in the state locking up more Māori than non-Māori

Institutional racism can exist, but to be institutional means that there must be an Act, law, policy, something in the rules that are intended to discriminate against Māori. The motivation must be the negative treatment of Māori. For example, the ‘Jim Crow’ laws in the US south, where black Americans had to drink from yuck taps and use yuck toilets – that was institutional racism.

New Zealand has no law seeking to throw Māori into prison, yet the report states that active bias is the reason for mass incarceration. Even if that were accurate, that would, therefore, be not institutional, but personal, individual and psychological.

New Zealand does not have institutional racism.

Now some of the ideological imports:

Colonialism:

This word is used 45 times; it is the core narrative of this report. I have discussed this above already, but make no mistake, this term is now weaponised and aimed at anyone who dares to disagree. It goes towards keeping people identifying as victims with an oppressor. It is divisive, insidious and, I suspect, predatory in intent.

Acts of survival:

This term was new for me and basically replaces “committing crime”, or “offending”. Such a term is effective in forming a narrative around it such that, ideologically, it is possible that a man did not smash a mum in the face for her money; instead it is the fault of colonisation since “colonisation can force Māori into criminalised acts of survival” (page 12). Assault, stab, spit on…rape? Murder? Is there a line?

This is a very dangerous ideology for all of us.

Unconscious bias:

This means you have no idea that you are biased, but you are biased, and your negative decisions are based on that unconscious bias.

There are a few foolish assertions with this, and I will address them in a media clip soon, but briefly, unconscious, or implicit bias was thought up in the 90’s and became a test called Implicit Association Test (IAT). Many thousands have completed this test of unconscious bias and, in 2016, a team including one of the original authors analysed the results from around 81,000 participants. What they found is that there is very little evidence that suggests that any bias affects behaviour. It means that this ‘unconscious bias’ was nonsensical, is still nonsensical, and should not be seen as anything beyond a trivial ‘fun test’.

There is a lot more I could respond on, but let us end this commentary with the most important aspect I observed and which made me equally angry and sad.

Reading the report illuminates one heartbreaking gap, an ignored variable, so ignored that my querying mind wonders why such a powerful entity was purposely overlooked and ignored.
The greatest organisation on this earth, the bedrock of civilisation, and not regarded just as a variable, but in fact THE variable and recurring theme regarding prisoners.

The only time this organisation is reluctantly allowed space in the report as an efffective preventative measure is when the respondents, who have very likely been selected for expected ActionStation bias…when the respondents themselves reject this report’s narrative and state that the greatest solution for reducing and preventing crime is:

Family.
Family.
Family.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa
Manaaki te Atua.

Elliot Ewen Pasione Ikilei
New Conservative Deputy Leader


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Deputy Leader of the New Conservative party, Elliot Ikilei is a husband and father who has worked in both personal and professional life as a youth worker for over 15 years. Through such experiences in work and personal life, he made a decision to devote his life to the protection of the family as the cornerstone of society. He staunchly defends freedom of speech that provides the foundation of all our freedoms.

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