Aug. 3, 2021, 11 a.m.
In 2017, the prison population in Aotearoa was predicted to increase to over 13,000 by 2021. If these projections had become a reality and continued at that rate, a new prison would have to be built every three to four years. Minister of Corrections, Kelvin Davis sat down with Haukāinga to talk about what has been achieved as they approach the midway point of their strategic direction, Hōkai Rangi. "We said we're going to reduce the prison population safely by 30% over 15 years," said Davis. This was met with strong criticism from the opposition government and media at the time, but Davis goes on to explain that the current prison population is 8167, a 24% decrease from 2017. At the heart of the strategy is oranga or wellbeing. Minister Davis highlights cultural wellbeing and the right of those in prison to have access to their culture. For many, this is their first time. Earlier this year, Te Paati Māori co-leader, Rawiri Waititi called for a ministerial inquiry after a District Court judge ruled some of the treatment of prisoners at Auckland Women’s Prison was “excessive, degrading and fundamentally inhumane”. Waititi went on to say he wanted a “by Māori, for Māori, to Māori approach to dealing without whānau in prisons” and that Hōkai Rangi needs to be implemented faster. Minister Davis admits that there is still a lot of work to be done but ultimately wants to see the role of the Minister of Corrections no longer required and only prisons required for the country's worst offenders. WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW TO LEARN MORE.