Dear Labour – We don’t need a new ‘Maori Prison’ we need less prisons!


The prison that Labour built

Watching the Kelvin Davis and Jacinda tango on the weekend current affairs shows was insightful.

While it’s nice to have a new tune to groove to, it is also horrifying that they are copying the exact same dance moves as National.

Kelvin Davis was almost ecstatic at the idea of creating new Maori prisons.

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How horrifying.

Critics might claim that seeing as he runs a Maori Charter School, Kelvin is salivating over the idea of owning a Maori prison and get a slice of the billion we now blow on prisons.

The horror was watching Labour simply attempt to shoe horn a vicious social issue like Prisons into a format that is palatable to people with slightly less dangerously violent revenge fantasies than your average National Party voter.

It is a terrible shame because if anyone can attest to the horrors of our prison system, it is Kelvin. He saw the abuse on Australian detonation camps, he was given insight into the beatings by Serco and yet rather than shy away from the punitive nightmare that our vengeance warped nation has become, here he is wanting to open up a new Maori prison as if its a new Disneyland attraction.

I agree, that we desperately need to introduce Maori tikanga into our entire social welfare system. The idea of caring holistically for the individual within a collective philosophical framework is something every single one of our social services desperately requires, but building a Maori prison only continues the racist system we have.

Prisons don’t work! They just create more damaged individuals. We have changed the parole system so that instead of serving a third of their sentence and being eligible for release, prisoners stay longer and longer inside.

The longer and longer prisoners stay inside the more and more damaged they become.

Rather than promising more prisons, Labour need to actually have some courage and acknowledge the damage locking 10 000 NZers up for profit has caused.

We need to change parole laws, dramatically increase rehabilitation programs and counter the societal drivers of crime rather than punishing the individual.

That’s not being soft on crime, it’s being intelligent on crime.

Jacinda and Kelvin backed away from the idea of standing up to SERCO when challenged on whether or not they would end private prisons, so why not end ACC owning 30% of the Wiri prison?

It was deeply disappointing to see Labour promising lots of gloss but beneath the surface it’s the exact same paint job of low expectations and even lower horizons.

I hope I’m wrong.


  1. The shine dulled a little for me as well.

    Still watching for the “game changing moment”.

  2. “I hope I’m wrong”. Sadly you’re not Martyn. Labour – part of the problem, not the solution, for the past three decades.

  3. “We need to change parole laws, dramatically increase rehabilitation programs and counter the societal drivers of crime rather than punishing the individual” completely agree 100% so lets change the government and push for this. We have a better chance of making a Labour Green coalition government listen to us than deaf ears dont give a stuff National.

  4. “I hope I’m wrong”

    I know you are Bombarino.

    Changing your clothes doesn’t change your philosophy.

    Labour – Still foaming at the mouth neo-liberals…

    • The world called John Key the smiling assassin,a bit overstated really,not a particularly memorable Prime Minister, as history will record.

  5. I think we need to look at the very way Labour came to have new leaders. Labour had introduced a more democratic way if choosing its leaders (although not fully democratic) so that that wasn’t a caucus decision. But left in an escape clause that allowed the caucus to replace the leader for just two months of a three year term. And what happens, caucus uses that clause. Maybe Andrew Little wasn’t doing brilliantly at the polls but maybe he represented the broad desire and direction of the Labour Party. The caucus decided that winning at all costs was more important and suddenly you have a new non-democratically elected leader and more conservative policies. A change of direction of one centimetre at the beginning of a journey becomes a thousand miles off course by the end of it, or put another way the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    • Labour was polling 23% = just 23% of the total vote at the Election.

      This figure was strongly indicative that after the successful electorate MP’s, none of those on Labour’s List would make it into parliament. You may not be aware that Andrew Little is No.1 on the List – he does not represent an electorate.

      It would have been Wham, Bam, thank you Andrew as he and all of the rest of the talented and promising aspirants on the List disappeared into the ether!

      Of course it is a case of grow the vote.

    • I personally don’t like the way Labour selectes their leaders,it’s messy and destructive and very Americanised.
      Running for leader means undermining and criticising your opponents in the public domain. This creates the appearance of infighting and disharmony, it was far more seemless and civilised for caucus to select a leader and as I turns out when needs dictate caucus acts over the preceived democratic procedure.

  6. While I agree we need fewer prisons, we also need different prisons. While I agree with the sentiment of MANA’s policy to abolish prisons, I believe they do have a role to play – even in a healthy society. Yes, I agree we lock too many people up. Yes, I agree that the vast majority of the time the people that are locked up are locked up because they’re poor/brown/sick. And I also agree that our prison system, poorly run and under-funded as it is, does more damage to people than good. The privatisation of prisons has exacerbated this.

    What we need is to fund prisons and the corrections system adequately so it works as the rehabilitation and respite that it should be. I like the allusion Martyn made that they should be seen as part of the social welfare system. Strongly integrating Māoritanga into the framework is a great initiative. The further step after this would be modelling our prisons on the ‘open prisons’ of Scandinavia, and providing comprehensive support to ex-prisoners upon release.

    And of course, there are some people who just simply are, and always will be a danger to society. I don’t think that we shouldn’t attempt to rehabilitate these people, but there do need to be places where these people can be kept for the safety and good of society for as long as they remain a danger.


    • The thing about TTT is they haven’t settled yet. So they haven’t okay’ the fraudulent land surveys that crown sovereignty sits on. And Ngapuhui are yet to exchange there management rights of there lands for a few dollars and title on some made up board.

      So I mean this with visceral: fuck the crown and all who ride it.

      • Plenty of Tai Tokerau iwi have signed settlements. Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kahu, and Ngāti Kuri. If corrections reform rests on the shitshow that is the Ngā Puhi settlement process, well I think we’re all fucked.

        • Pfft. The crown out a false title over Ngapuhi customary native title. So any one who then on sells or negotiates over fraudulent land title is a fraud by extension. And this is the settler governments own laws.

          This is the definition of fraud: you can’t sell something Yu don’t have.

          So little shit bags can say all they want. Phase 2 of Ngapuihi tribunal hearings will destroy “the money multiplier.”

          For those that don’t know what the money multiplier equation is. It’s: Client, multiplied by Commision = monetary policy.

          Policy makers like the honourable deputy leader of the opposition or others who have no fucken idea what’s going. Push learning platforms and narratives that only make them money. Kalvin or Te Ururoa or Marama Fox have no idea at all, what’s going on. Hone Harawiria I suspect knows even less about monetary policy making but I will point out in his defence that he’s says regularly – “fuck the $300 mil settlement – and I agree.

  7. But Kelvin may be right in one sense.
    If you create prisons that, as part of prisoner rehabilitation, take a Maori perspective how than this be any worse than the bloody shambles we have at the moment.
    New Zealanders have always opposed separate prisons for Maori because we have been brainwashed by the political right into thinking this means lighter treatment for Maori criminals = reverse racism. Also we always the perennial crutch of the right – prisons run by the Mongrels and Black Power. Neither of these assertions have any basis of fact, they exist purely as nightmares for wealthy indifferent white double dippers.
    The justice and corrections system is already racist, AGAINST Maori. A rich white prick in a suit with a “sir” in front of his name who steals millions of dollars from his countrymen and the government will never be punished as heavily as a Maori who steals a car or burgles a house.
    I take the point that we need less prisons, not more, but it might be a necessary developmental step to first get the prisons out of the hands of scumbags like SERCO. When we can have prisons that are fully accountable to New Zealanders we can hopefully increase the rehabilitation rate with the flow on effect that there is less reoffending, less offending and prison numbers to eventually decrease.
    But it can’t be done overnight, as much as many of us would like it to happen.
    I say give this idea some merit because it sounds far better than the lunatic system we have now.

          • Thanks for pointing that out CLEANGREEN.

            While I Dislike personality comparisons between Jacinda, Shaw, Metiria, Winston, Hone and Garreth. They have spent considerable effort in formulating there policy directions, granted Jacinda is a little late to the game the amount of support these 6 personalities are generating is useful.

            Those that promote the failed economic models that have caused The Great Inequality says no model could or should predict economic crises. But crises is now common place. I believe studying how our economy performs during stressful times, is useful for guiding how our economy performs in less stressful times.

  8. I must have been listening to a different Kelvin Davis – perhaps an Ausralian one – or some bloke hidden deep in The Daily Blogs underground office.

    For I distinctly heard Kelvin Davis say we have to stop making criminals. We have to raise good children.We have to socialise youth. Bring them up to be good proud citizens. Young men and women with skills and personal goals. We have to lessen Poverty in order to achieve that.

    He also said we have to make sure our young criminals do not return to prison. We have to develop programs that bring this about.

    I do not see any point in rubbishing Kelvin Davis. He has done superb work already on lessening prison violence.

    I see plenty of point in getting parental whites and browns to proudly raise their kids as Nature intended.

    • They both clearly said that we needed to stop building more prisons and look at how we can decrease our prison population. The discussion of Māori prisons was part of thinking about how to rehabilitate and send people back into society stronger, not more broken.

      How about opening up your ears, Bomber? You are misrepresenting this interview.

      • It’s a matter of who controls the prison system. Its like asking – is there a difference between a dumb idea, and a really well thought out dumb idea.

        The are plenty of studies out there that say loving Holmes produce next to no criminal activity. But for the uninitiated these moral principals are next to impossible to comprehend.

  9. “Australian detonation camps” ummm? What?

    Detention camps?

    Wonder why we don’t speak a bit more of those delightful places. After all, what’s the point of our ‘special relationship’ with Oz if we can’t take a few pests such as Dutton behind the bike shed for a tune up? Or get the Labour/Green confection (Snifters, perhaps) to say whether they’ll offer places to those people and squeeze the reluctant Trump for pixie points.

    Howzat?! Detonating, eh?

  10. nats sign serco up for 30 year proble with huge penalties if incoming government gives them the boot they pulled the same scam with sky city convention centre
    36 year of tax payer funded profits

    • The 30 year contract with Serco offers the Left a means to protect other state assets. It sounds contradictory, but the capitalist system of contracts might be exploited to preserve state services, assets, etc, from predatory right-wing governments. It’s something I need to look further into and do a story on it, to investigate possibilities…

  11. You are not wrong Martyn, you are completely right! Less prisons and more interventions to stop crimes being committed.

    One of the nicest articles about NZ is that when trying to rob a kebab shop owner who ignored the armed hold up, the robber politely left empty handed.

    I don’t think many criminals really want to commit crimes. It’s getting them help before they commit the crimes that’s important. (and less expensive than prison).

    It’s also sad because many in prison are illiterate and it’s hard enough to get a job in our low wage economy with decent qualifications, so must be much worse if you have real problems. With WINZ refusing to give benefits to people who are actually entitled to it and targets to get people off, it’s easy to see why crime might be increasing.

    I’d prefer to see the Finnish prison system investigated as it’s very effective.

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