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Breakfast presenter Hayley Holt breaks down in tears after powerful report on police mistreatment of Māori

A difficult interview about racist mistreatment of Māori people by police reduced Breakfast host Hayley Holt to tears this morning.

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Lawyer and justice advocate Julia Whaipooti said Māori women would rather stay with abusive partners than deal with the racism in the justice system. Source: Breakfast

In the interview, lawyer and justice advocate Julia Whaipooti said Māori women would rather stay with abusive partners than deal with racism in the justice system.

"Do you know how many Māori women I have spoken with who are in abusive relationships, and they would rather not call the state… because they are more scared of that than the fist of their partner they have to deal with every day?" she told Breakfast this morning.

"That is a problem, when the system becomes a perpetrator that a people cannot trust."

Ms Whaipooti was addressing a new report by JustSpeak which found Māori first-time offenders are seven times more likely to end up in court than pākehā in the same situation.

Other research shows police are eight times more likely to use a Taser on Māori than pākehā. 

She criticised new roaming armed police forces targeting Māori and Pacific communities, saying it's a racist policy given the research.

"Racism in policing looks like killing Māori," Ms Whaipooti says.

"Right now we're Americanising our police force in Māori communities, apparently to keep us safe. But do you know who does not feel safe by police? It is Māori."

Yesterday's research doesn't provide any new information - it backs up previous studies that find Māori are disproportionately affected in the justice system, Ms Whaipooti said.

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The new JustSpeak report revealed first-time Māori offenders are seven times more likely to appear in court than pākehā in the same situation. Source: Breakfast

"One of the very clear calls has been that for Māori, we would like to deal with situations that affect Māori. For so long, the Crown has funded themselves to fail us repeatedly. And not just fail us, but do worse than us. 

"We know when you come into contact with the justice system, the more likely that you are to experience further harm in the justice system and the more likely you are to reoffend, do something more violent in offending."

After saying goodbye to Ms Whaipooti, Holt broke down in tears as John Campbell called it a "staggering failure" in the system.

Yesterday, police deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha told RNZ the discrepancy may be if Māori are committing more serious crimes than pākehā, which are ineligible for diversion programmes.

"If they are being arrested at the lower end of the scale and those opportunities are not being provided, then I would be concerned."

He said police also undergo unconscious bias training but they're still seeing if that is working.