GUEST BLOG: John Tamihere – Lots of Māori crimes are crimes of poverty


Big ups to Rawiri and Deb for the way in which they conducted themselves in their maiden speeches in Parliament, and for carrying the liberated and unapologetic Maori voice to Wellington.

The movement that has been created is outstanding and will continue to unite our people.
Also congratulations to Rawiri and the way in which he negotiated a peaceful end to the Waikeria situation, so everyone, inmates and prison officers were safe. He did that because we are all whānau and when whānau call, we must respond.

I went with Rawiri to Waikeria. No one in the Māori Party makes judgements on those who have done the crime and are now doing the time.

But just because they have lost their freedom, doesn’t mean they should be treated like dogs and animals.

The unit where those 16 whānau were housed was built in 1911. It was decommissioned a few years ago because it was not fit for purpose.

But the state reopened the buildings knowing that because of rising inmate numbers – even double-bunking inmates in single-man cells.

It’s easy to demonise inmates, but they are somebody’s son, father, uncle, cousin. The facility they were forced into is unfit for human habitation.

Add to that the cancellation of phone privileges home at Christmas and you have a group of already agitated people on the edge.

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You take that phone whānau privilege away, on top of inhumane and uninhabitable living conditions, then you are just baiting inmates, and will get that very response.

We want fair treatment for our whānau and that’s why the Māori Party is working on their defence.

These men can be good people and be good citizens. We can never give up on whānau.

I know the justice system pretty well and had one brother who spent 21 years as an officer at Paremoremo and another who spent 21 years on the other side of the bars.

I also have nephews who have been in the criminal justice system. I am a Māori from working-class and we had the difficulties, just as many other Maori families with the unjust justice system.

Crime is not something to be proud of, but equally, lots of Māori crimes are crimes of poverty. Our people do not just wake up and think today I’m going to rob or defraud or forge someone or something.

This is why we as a Te Paati Maori and Maori in general must fix these issues.

As we head towards 2021, we have learned how to look after and defend ourselves in a pandemic. We did that without the government rolling out plans specifically for Maori. We stood up for ourselves and did it ourselves.

What that demonstrates is the capacity and capability we Māori have as a people. We don’t need multiple non-Māori controlling our money and expenditure by employing themselves and feasting of it.

What we need is good white folk to step aside and get out of our way. We must get our own resources to fix our own problems. Simple as that. We don’t want handouts – we want our just rights and entitlements. White man’s tools do not fix brown man’s problems.

In 2021, you will see more and more racism called out.

There’s no such thing as systemic racism or unconscious bias. There are racist people and racist individuals who hold authority and power. They manipulate that authority and power because they don’t like Māori.

So over the 2021-2023 time frame, we have to consistently call them out. We cannot take a backward step to these people because if we do that, we condone their racism.

If you look the other way, they will continue to run over the top of you – so wakey wakey!

This is the year where our people wake up. We want all the best for you this year but we want you to stand up for yourself.

We are going to call out those that are naughty but rejoice in what we do as Māori.

We must not pull one another down because that is a product of racism. When we create conflicts amongst ourselves, that’s the politics of racism.

To my colleagues who stood shoulder to shoulder during the 2020 election – Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, Donna Pokere-Phillips, Heather Te Au-Skipworth, and Takuta Ferris – well done.

There’s a brighter future and a better way for us.

Believe in you, believe in us, believe in Māori.


  1. Yes John poverty is a major driver of crime but so is entrenched long term racism, discrimination and colonisation. Treating people like they are inferior is a way of controlling them and keeping them down at the bottom. Our prison system is but one of the many colonial systems in our country that is broken and hasn’t worked. And we know prisons have not worked because prison numbers have continued to increase, despite all the punitive measures. I am not saying we don’t need prisons. The problem is we continue to use a band aide approach when prisons need a major operation. We are tinkering and incrementalism has not worked. Under the National party we were heading into dangerous waters with privatisation of our prisons (like a little America). Privatisation is yet another way of our government distancing itself from any responsibility as is dumping the prisons and other dysfunctional government agencies like OT on Maori to run. There are always solutions and there are some good people out in our communities that can help, they just need a government that genuinely has the goodwill to lay the foundations for the major operation required for change.

  2. AO/NZ’ers are being exploited by riche scheming fuckers we can’t vote out and never voted in. They managed to sequester resources that belonged to all of us for themselves and their cronies and we still watch on like hypnotised chickens as those, often foreign owners ratchet up the costs of our assets and resources long paid for by us for our enduring benefit.
    They have infiltrated our local governments who bully and intimidate us into believing their controlling ways are the only ways and those ways are to have us live in poverty and in cowering acquiescence on a beautiful and rich few islands while they harvest us like the aliens did to human beings in The Matrix but with less empathy, warmth and care.
    roger douglas, derek quigly, helen clark, jenny shipely, ruth richardson, richard prebble, don brash, jim bolger etc. The above politicians, our well paid by our taxes politicians, among others, literally sold us and OUR assets to the likes of alan gibb, michael fay, david richwhite, chandler, graham heart etc to enslave us for their grotesque fortune making’s.
    Rutger Bergman. TED talks.
    “Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash”
    On a more local note:
    The Guardian.
    New data shows the richest 1% are worth 68 times more than a typical New Zealander
    “New Zealand’s astounding wealth gap challenges our ‘fair go’ identity
    Max Rashbrooke”
    Given the plentiful supply of information at hand it’s no longer a question of what’s wrong with AO/NZ but more a question of what we’re going to have to do about it.

    • It doesn’t pass the threshold, and even if it did, he should be allowed to say it as he has. Then people can decide whether to vote for him or his party, either one the other or both, in an open environment. When he talks about the White man and the Brown Man, he could have easy said something like Euro-ethnic and Oceanic-Polynesian people – but that would set off off the woke-ists. Further on, it becomes clear that he is talking about culture, not race. Manipulating authority and power doesn’t come with race, it comes with culture. It’s a very fine line to take in politics, especially during a time when the majority of people in NZ seem to think in exclusive and absolute either/or scenarios, so he has his work cut out for him there.
      The collision of cultures that cause and ascerbate negetive symptoms of poverty (the creation of aspiration, for example) do require a seperation and identitfication of issues for them to be solved. Much easier to do in individuals than groups. If we approach it in good fatih, he appears to know what he’s looking at, and the line between the two. If we don’t approach it in good faith, then we are all just nutters barking at each other till kingdom come. If it sounds like racism to you, then don’t vote for it. As a supposed professional politician, there is more responsibility on him to convince and explain to you what he means (creating policy, for example), rather than for you to figure it out for yourself.

  3. No one forced you to read it Pedro. Its like watching TV if you don’t like it turn the channel or switch it of other wise you can always go back to Mexico.

  4. No one forced you to read it Pedro. Its like watching TV if you don’t like it turn the channel or switch it of other wise you can always go back to Mexico.

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