Waatea News Column: Banning Prisoners from voting impacts Māori worst


The debate over Prisoners being able to vote has begun in the Waitangi Tribunal as argument is heard that the ban is a breach of the Treaty because it is so disproportionately unfair to Māori.

The stats are eye watering and irrefutably damning.

Over 50% of the prison population are Māori, who only make up 15% of the total population. Māori are 6 times more likely to face jail time as non-Maori offenders and if non-Māori were convicted at the same rate, our prison population would explode over 30 000.

A Justice system as corrosively biased as that demands intense scrutiny and justification. The negative impact of imprisonment in terms of healing and reforming the broken men and women who have been locked up echoes generationally;

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To deny Prisoners the right to vote is simply the politics of spite. The National Party gleefully implemented the law in 2010 as a raw meat victory dance for their election.

Rewarding such spite as policy despite its counter-productive outcomes is the very DNA of racism.

This debate is too important to ignore.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. Well I think yeah. Give em the vote. But then that would immediately present some challenges such as voters also being eligible to run for parliament, local body elections. The machinists of it are pretty simple I’d imagine – have them postal or online vote. But if things like for meals instead of 3 start showing up along with single cell ensuites instead of rehabilitation then there might be trouble. But a major issue will be foreign courts influencing our own courts. But hey, anything to broaden the democratic base would be good for some but hardly concincing but at the same time the prison vote will hardly swing anything.

  2. If foreigners can come here and vote so should our prisoners be able to.
    If we want them to become better productive citizens voting is an important part of being included and helping them to reintegrate back in our communities. Our prisoners are already being punish by being in prison nothing like a good bit of civics for our prisoners lets empower them not continue to disenfranchise them other wise our prison will remain full and do we really want this?

  3. Obviously it is their human rights as New Zealanders to have the vote !

    ….no matter who they are

    …male or female, Pakeha or Maori

    …it is sad it has to go to the Waitangi Tribunal and an indictment on Governments

    Many prisoners have themselves been abused and are the victims of a neolib society brought about by neolib political parties and politicians

  4. Well dumb nzders voted for that spiteful government mostly our pakeha whanau put national in for 9 yrs and they got what they wanted but is it really in our best interest to exclude the tangata te whenua and treat our people like this when they are over represented not only in prison but in all facets of life with the worst stats we should be fucken ashamed.

    • I am ashamed, Michelle, and Red Buzzard rightly says it is an indictment of the NZ Govt that this issue has had to go to the Waitangi Tribunal to get it addressed.

      It’s more than just a vote, as the sociopaths who enacted this would have known.

    • There are also the enablers like The Maori party that supported National.

      Sad because if Mana had not been manipulated during the 2014 election, they would have been a lot more successful for both Maori and society in general as Harawira would never be persuaded to sell his soul for a ‘seat at the table’ and that is why the Natz to labour to the Greens wanted him out, before a grass roots movement could start.

      I don’t agree with everything Harawira says, but feel he is a real loss to parliament with the current group think going on and focus on the trivial scandals rather than real issues that NZ really needs to focus on and address.

      He at least might identify the irony of paying Compass social housing circa $82,000 per week to administer 55 social housing units where the clients have shared kitchens and pay rent on top of that and no access to the tenancy tribunal for disputes! (Maybe the old state house model where NZ Housing returned a profit instead of taking massive fees, and the state actually built housing, unlike the fanfair and massive administration costs of Kiwibuild working the PPP structure) were more suitable?

      • +100 SAVENZ…re “There are also the enablers like The Maori party that supported National.”

        The Maori Party was a disgrace…it gave us Maori and Pakeha the John Key Nactional Government for nine years !

        (…and I get so sick of those unthinking ignorant Maori that would blame Pakeha for everything , racist in itself)

        ….and don’t forget the two leaders of the Nactional Party are now Maori…Bridges and Bennett …so how about Maori stop racist whinging and take some responsibility

        Also it was the Labour Party that trashed the Mana/Internet Party by refusing to allow Harawira a pass the way National allows the Seymour and the Act Party a pass….not standing against him

        It cost Labour that Election…their perfidy and stupidity on the knew no bounds

  5. At the end of the day, there has been massive social redistribution of NZ for decades by allowing people who are not NZ’ers like Thiel and who reside less than 11 days in NZ citizenship and voting rights and making sure that hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals living here have voting rights (unlike OZ or the rest of the world) while making sure that certain sectors of society like Maori votes are gradually being diluted politically.

    At the same time making sure that things like housing shortages impact those who are less wealthy to be able to vote or even be counted in a census.

  6. People vote for a party they think will them a better society so I believe to do this they need to live i and respect society prisoners have decdied not to respect the laws of the land so cannot claim a right to decide it’s future. Maori already have a privillaged position with their own seats but even with that advantage they do not get the help to fight for fir justice from the courts. I do not believe allowing rioters to vote will change this.

  7. It is against all our human rights that we have to vote for parties that keep the current economic system as a boot on the heads of the middle class and the wage slave majority despite campaigning on ending it.

    Of course Maori are over represented in prison which is a disgusting indictment of our corrections system but at least they have the Waitangi Tribunal pushing their case to vote.

    What about all the non maori inmates that deserve the same right to vote.

    Who is fighting for them ?

  8. Maori are tribal with a strong culture. In this day and age this is dangerous to any government which operates on divide and conquer.

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