Racism Underpins the Prisoner Voting Blanket Ban – Media Release on behalf of Tom Hemopo and Donna Awatere-Huata

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Former retired Probation officer Tom Hemopo and Māori Climate Commissioner, Donna Awatere-Huata are due to give evidence this afternoon at the Māori Prisoner’s Voting Inquiry at the Waitangi Trbunal in Wellington.

Mr Hemopo and Mrs Awatere-Huata claim that the blanket prisoner voting ban discriminates against Maori and is a breach of their tino rangatiratanga and right to participate in the Māori Electoral voting process.

Mrs Awatere-Huata says that “Racism operates at many levels in NZ and this piece of legislation has taken away Māori people’s right to vote since the 1850’s. My evidence talks about the racist attitudes of the Crown towards Māori, the history of racism and colonisation, but more importantly what needs to be done to change those attitudes.”

“The prisoner ban is one of many racist pieces of legislation in this country that denies Māori the right to participate in making decisions about their future. 1 in every 142 Māori are in prison as oppose to 1 in every 808 non-Māori. Remove the prisoner voting ban to give our people currently in prison, the right to vote in 2020.” Says Mr Hemopo

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