By Maggie Shui
Poverty, disability and sexuality are all factors that contribute to Māori being more likely to be victims of crime than non-Māori, a new study by the Ministry of Justice confirms.
The study found that more than one third of Māori adults (38 per cent) experienced crime within a 12-month period, compared to 30 per cent for the New Zealand population overall.
Other key findings from the study included:
- Economic deprivation, being young (aged 15-29), being bisexual and having a disability were all factors that increased the risk of Māori experiencing crime.
- Among Māori adults, those who are unemployed, under financial pressure and live in state housing were more likely to experience violent crime and to be burgled.
- 36 per cent of Māori adults experienced some form of intimate partner or sexual violence in their lifetime.
These findings are similar to a Ministry report in 2006 which found Māori were more likely than non-Māori to experience crime across all offence types, and that victimisation was more likely for Māori living in economic deprivation.
The Ministry’s latest study looks at Victims of Crime surveys from 2018 and 2019, and comes to the same conclusions.
“This suggests that little has improved and that these trends will continue unless changes are made. Clearly change must not be cosmetic for Māori, it must be large scale and practical,” said Tim Hampton, Deputy Secretary for the Ministry's Sector Group, in a statement.
One finding that surprised researchers was that Māori living in Wellington or the South Island were more likely to experience violent crime than Māori living in the rest of the North Island.
The study notes that the proportion of Māori living in the North Island excluding Wellington is significantly higher than the proportion of Māori living in Wellington and the South Island. The researchers suggest this means that, “Māori appear to be safer in regions with relatively larger Māori communities”. The connection between better outcomes for Māori and larger Māori communities has also been identified in a 2013 study on the effects of ethnic density on Māori health.
Outside of the findings on the higher rates of violent crime experienced by Māori in the South Island, the Ministry of Justice acknowledged that most of the results of the study ”aren’t a revelation”. However, the study has provided more in-depth information around the circumstances of Māori experiences of crime, which the Ministry believes will help inform, “the development of any new Māori led services for victims, or for improving current services that support Māori victims and their whānau.”