Waatea News Column: More Maori men will be found guilty of sexual assault thanks to law change


More criticism last week of the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill when the co-President of the Penal Reform League, Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams, warned again that the law changes would see more innocent Maori men found guilty of rape and sexual assault.

She wrote a letter to Jacinda Ardern highlighting her concerns adding, “I write as the relative of two innocent young males from Ngāpuhi who, falsely accused, sadly went through several months of incarceration on sexual violation charges. It was a traumatising and frightening experience for both males and their whānau – who were later freed without convictions.”

Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams believes Māori men will bear the brunt of the law change because they are targeted more by Police, are reliant more on legal aid and face a biased legal system.

The criticism stems from well-meaning legislation designed to make the legal process safer for the victims of sexual crime, but in doing so, it removes any defence of rape by banning sexual history which removes any context for the Jury.

Lady Heeni Phillips-Williams was scathing of Jan Logie and the Greens for pursuing such an enormous change in the law.

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“One must point out that she (Jan Logie) is not legally trained and has therefore obviously not run even one criminal case in court. She will have more Māori males in prison, through their rights being obliterated. Not many will be able to afford a QC. This bill is shameless and shameful.”

The Justice Ministry predicts the law change will see an extra 20 men inside prison each year.

The question is, will they all be guilty.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. “Māori men … are targeted more by Police”

    Is that how it works Martyn? “Now boys, you get out there and arrest some Māori men!”

  2. Sounds like NZ is galloping towards the US judicial system where a significant proportion of people in jail are innocent.

    (And arguably some found not guilty are not innocent.)

    • There’s still some issues in New Zeakabd that need ironing out. I mean first of all we can’t allow males with sexual deviancies to investigate other secusl deviance but I have no idea how to do that.

  3. “The Penal Reform League…”

    God they’re a bunch of Sleeping Bears. I appreciate they’re busy, but come on. Though at a community, family and individual level, twenty extra innocent people in prison is a very bad thing, and the fact they could be all maori is also bad bad news for our future, it’s no where near as much a problem than what will happen next to our perspective of law and justice. Keep sleeping, tired, warm bears. When Spring comes it’ll be too late. You will at least be busy.

    Meanwhile we have the realists in The Greens being permenantly masked by the desperate radical idealists (that’s as generously as I can describe them), with a net result of negetive outcomes for NZ. This isn’t anything like the so-called “smacking ban”. It would be if children were allowed to say their parents smacked them and they immediately go to prison. Imagine the kids that would raise themselves, presumeably on the street as bands of thieves, or as “orphans” in private wards that of course wouldn’t be at risk at all to the nasty abuses children usually have perpetuated against them.
    The Greens seem to have a great system for considering and arriving at creative solutions to developing problems at a membership level, but something has gone wrong at the leadership level. Stuff like this should pass through a final filter before being released for public consumption. This proposed “reform” is so obviously wrong that it fails what they used to call intraocular test. I’m convinced Labour are criminally insane, so asking them what they think or why is pointless. If it’s destructive, they’ll do it. National also the same, though their reason is that since their inner circle has enough wealth and social status to make things go away, society doesn’t exist, to them. I kinda hope the Greens split very soon, so the natural successor to NZ grown socialist outlook can finally get some air.

  4. “Now boys, you get out there and arrest some Māori men!”
    That is about right.
    I was reporter on a small newspaper in the 1970s( Thames – Paeroa). Every court day I went to the Thames local court, Paeroa court, Waihi court and sat through a succession of sad cases involving Maori and Pakeha defendants.
    What I noticed is that it was much easier to convict Maori than Pakeha and so when the cops needed to boost their conviction numbers they charged more Maori men than Pakeha knowing every one of their elderly male Pakeha judges were more likely to convict and sentence Maori than Pakeha.
    Here is one example from the Paeroa Magistrate’s Court mid-1970s.
    Two young Pakeha males get in an argument with a local Maori adolescent and knock him around.
    He tells his whanau.
    They report it to the local police, who do nothing.
    En masse the whanau go to the house of the two Pakeha males. Their older brother knocks on the door to speak with them while the rest of the family wait in the street outside.
    The two Pakeha males are by now shitting themselves in fear and phone the cops, then, knowing the police are on their way to deal with an appeal from Pakeha, they decide to assert their white dominance by opening the door and threatening the young Maori man with a firearm.
    Contary to their expectations, he grabs the weapon by the barrel and wrests it out of the holder’s grasp and tosses it away, then proceeds to beat the crap out of the person who threatened him with a gun.
    At this stage the cops appear, arrest the young Maori male and charge him with assault. They do nothing about the Pakeha males( admittedly the beaten one is on his way to hospital).
    Subsequently Joe( the Maori) appears in court before a seventy year old male, Pakeha judge who is nearly deaf and has difficulty hearing all the evidence.
    He concludes Joe was justified in disarming the man who threatened him but exceeded justification with the severity of the beating he delivered( he should have been more calm and collected about someone pointing a gun at him).
    The Judge examines the record. Aha! Joe has a previous conviction for brawling in a public place. so obviously the savage has not learned his lesson! Twenty four months ( personally I would have given him a medal).
    What penalties for the Pakeha involved?
    Well, according to the police, the gun was not actually loaded, the two guys were in fear of their lives – despite just needing to sit and do nothing because the cops were on the way – and the beating one of them received was punishment enough.
    So nothing. As one of the Police officers explained to this reporter,”Joe is a bad Maori and needs a lesson’.
    Every time I think of this case I believe it is a micro version of our colonial history.
    Maori rebel against injustice.
    They are threatened with military force and, against expectations, successfully resist until defeated by more power applied.
    Then they are punished for resisting ( land confiscations, arrest of tribal leaders).

    • great example @exjourno. I have witnessed the same type of judgement pattern in the Northland District Courts when it comes to the personal use of illicit drugs, No rehab plenty of bracelets and in the past jail time. Our prisons are crime Universities where there are more drugs than most will ever see on the outside.

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