Victims of Crime

Meeting the Needs of Māori Victims of Crime

Fiona Cram, Leonie Pihama and Matawiki Karehana, IRI, University of Auckland

Funder: Te Puni Kokiri - Ministry of Māori Affairs and the Ministry of Justice

Timeframe: 1999

This Kaupapa Māori (by Māori, with Māori) research set out to document the needs of Māori ‘victims’ of crime within a wider context by talking to both key informants as well as those who had experienced crime (regardless of whether or not they described themselves as a ‘victim’). The kaupapa of the research was to paint a broad picture of the context in which crimes against Māori are committed as well as provide the finer details of individuals’ experiences. 

Ten key informants were interviewed in relation to views on the needs of Māori victims of crime. The key informants were chosen because of their community experiences, their broad knowledge of the justice system, and their known views on Māori and crime. The key informants included those involved in the justice system (e.g. as lawyers, judges, prison and probation staff) and those who were involved in community initiatives.

Participants were recruited and interviewed in three regions: Auckland, Whangarei and Christchurch. In Auckland 21 participants (15 women and 6 men) were interviewed. In Whangarei 18 participants (12 women and 6 men) were interviewed. And in Christchurch 30 participants (16 men and 14 women) were interviewed. This gave a total sample of 70 participants (42 women and 28 men).

The key informants and the participants in the present research were clearly in favour of support services that were ‘by Māori, for Māori’ while acknowledging that there are attempts by mainstream support services to provide a more Māori-friendly (Taha Māori) service. The key informants, especially, were also aware of the multiplicity of services that Māori ‘victims’ are often be exposed to and that this can lead to confusion and re-victimisation. We therefore advocate for a ‘one-stop shop’ approach that is able to attend to the often multiple needs of Māori ‘victims’ as they seek support for themselves and their whānau, healing, advice (including legal advice), education about justice processes, and counselling.

The report made four recommendations

Recommendation 1

That mainstream support services be encouraged to become more accessible (i.e. user-friendly, culturally appropriate, etc.) for Māori ‘victims’ of crime.

The provision of ‘by Māori, for Māori’ services for Māori victims of crime does not mean that mainstream services are ‘let off the hook’ in terms of their obligations to Māori. It is essential that Māori have real choice when looking for a support service. Thus mainstream services need to also offer a Māori-friendly service. This may be through the employment and training of Māori co-ordinators and staff and the recruitment of Māori volunteers.

Recommendation 2

That a Kaupapa Māori service be established for Māori ‘victims’ of crime.

The establishment of a ‘by Māori, for Māori’ service for Māori victims of crime recognises that healing and resolution takes place when the control of an initiative is in Māori hands.

It may be feasible to include Māori victim support staff within existing Māori services (for example, health services). However this may move the focus away from ‘crime’ and be a barrier to facilitating Māori processes of resolution (as the service will have other, primary concerns). On the other hand, a Kaupapa Māori service that is focused on Māori ‘victims’ could also offer advice on and access to Māori processes of resolution (see Recommendation 4).

Recommendation 3

That a Kaupapa Māori service be resourced as a one-stop shop for Māori ‘victims’ of crime.

The present research alluded to the depth of Māori victimisation. Often the experience of crime that participants talked about was one of many and/or one incident in life full of other incidents. It can be expected therefore that people’s healing and support needs will run deeper than a triggering incident. Even if it is just one incident then the calls for support and resolution, education, counselling, police liaison and legal advice mean that many resources need to be made available to Māori ‘victims’. These resources include trained Māori staff who are able to attend to the emotional, spiritual and cultural needs of victims. Key informants also talked about resourcing the material needs of victims; for example, accommodation and money.

Recommendation 4

That Māori processes of resolution be resourced.

This recommendation is made in response to the calls in the present research for more Māori control over justice systems, including how ‘victims’ and ‘crimes’ are defined and how transgressions are resolved. This resourcing could take the form suggested in Recommendation 3; that is, a ‘by Māori, for Māori’ service that supports Māori ‘victims’ in many ways including advice on and access to Māori processes of resolution.

We are aware of initiatives that are currently working for Māori processes of resolution; for example, Whānau Awhina at Hoani Waititi Māori with its focus on the pre-trail diversion of young, urban, Māori offenders. In addition, there are highly skilled Māori who work with whānau to resolve transgressions. There is a need for these services and skills to be replicated so that they are readily available to Māori throughout the country.