Rawiri Waititi: Soft On Poverty Means Soft On Crime – Te Pati Maori

Te Pāti Māori have accused the Government of being ‘soft on crime’ for their failure to address the drivers of crime in their package to curb gang violence announced yesterday.

“We are facing the worst cost of living crisis in generations. The Government’s response? More ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric. This Government continues to ignore the drivers of crime, inequality, and disconnection that cause rangatahi to join gangs in the first place” said Te Pāti Māori coleader and Justice Spokesperson Rawiri Waititi.

“I feel for whānau who are living in fear of gun violence in their community, but now is not the time to stoke that fear for political clout. The package announced yesterday completely fails to address the deeper issues that lead to violence.

“This focus on hitting gangs in their pockets really shows how out of touch our politicians are with the communities they are supposed to be helping. I never want to hear the words ‘bling bling’ from a National Party MP again. If you really think rangatahi join gangs for financial gain then I have a bridge to sell you” Waititi said.

“Gangs in Aotearoa are the result of colonialism and inequality. If we are serious about curbing gang violence in country then we need to get serious about looking at the causes, not the symptoms.

“As long as we continue to talk about gangs but without ever talking to them, we are only going to further entrench trauma in their whānau and their community.

“We must invest more into initiatives that work like, Whānau Ora, and into our communities who know what is needed to reconnect whānau to their marae, their hapū, their iwi and their Māoritanga. State run services have proven to fail Māori and it’s time to devolve all resources to by Māori, for Māori, to Māori kaupapa” said Waititi.

“The only time Māori receive special treatment is when we are dealing with the police. The police force have profiled and targeted tangata whenua for as long as they have existed in this country.

“Since the Government began its program to decrease the number of Māori in prison in 2019, our prison population has gone up by 2%. Our criminal justice system is a failure and this Government is making things worse.

“We cannot police inequality out of society. You cannot call yourselves ‘tough on crime’ when you are soft on poverty” said Waititi.

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