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What is the State’s Role in Indigenous Justice Processes?

Hakiaha, Matt
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In, Howard Zehr and Barb Toews, eds., Critical Issues in Restorative Justice. Monsey, New York and Cullompton, Devon, UK: Criminal Justice Press and Willan Publishing. Pp. 351-359.

Writing from his personal and cultural perspective as a Maori in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Matt Hakiaha reflects on the question of the state’s role in indigenous justice processes. He begins by sketching a history of the interactions between the Maori and those who colonized them and their lands, particularly the British. Of particular note are three key documents from the mid 1800s that, on paper, established a significant degree of respect for Maori culture and autonomy to the Maori people. Hakiaha contends, however, that these documents were breached, violated, and left dormant. More recently, the New Zealand government enacted in 1989 the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act which incorporated considerable aspects of Maori perspectives and values. Still, Hakiaha believes the Maori are marginalized and aggrieved by the government. Hence, he argues that indigenous communities should be given the opportunity to pursue a justice system either independent of or parallel to the government system.


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