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Māori Party have 'grave concerns' over incoming laws targeting gangs

Māori Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi say they will fight the Government's incoming laws targeting gangs. 

Māori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Source: Getty

"The reality is we're always dealing with the double down and the profiling of us as Māori," Ngarewa-Packer said. 

The Government announced today it is bringing in Firearm Protection Orders, meaning specific, "high risk" people cannot own, use or access a firearm, in a move targeting gangs and organised crime.

'High risk' people soon to be banned from owning firearms

It is also proposing a new law to enable the seizure of assets from people associated with organised crime. 

"If it’s targeting gangs, it’s targeting Māori," Waititi said.

"We need to look at positive programmes... but also looking at alternative plans for our whanau and stop the fishing expeditions that the police do with Māori."

"We have grave concerns about this particular ture (law)... we will fight it," he said. 

Police Minister Poto Williams said it was a "privilege, not a right, to own or use a gun in this country and we need to take that ability out of the hands of people who pose a threat to our communities".

"Firearms Prohibition Orders provide an extra tool for police to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, and to keep our communities safe," she said. 

National leader Judith Collins called today's proposed law a "good start".

"But what we’ve seen and what’s been announced lacks teeth and any legislation needs to have teeth otherwise there’s not much point," she added.

Collins, a former police minister, also said she had seen "no evidence" of systemic racism in the police force.

"There are some people who have racist views in all areas of life. I have seen in the police, as their Minister, I've been very proud of the work they have done, around any accusations of that."

Ngarewa-Packer said that "it does exist", while Waititi said "the more you ignore it the more you support it". 

Williams was questioned in the house around the proposed laws, with Ngarewa-Packer asking about the disproportionate rates of police pulling "guns on Māori children". 

Williams spoke about the work police were doing "to recognise the disproportionate arrest rates for Māori and Pacific". 

"I support the work they are doing to look at how they speak and stop people and how they make their charging decisions, I think that speaks to a broader programme of work the police are taking to ensure we do everything we can to reduce the rates of arrest for Māori and Pacific."

She said that "at the end of the day we are talking about our whanau and our people" and she supported police looking into institutional and unconscious bias.