Māori are sent to prison more often than Pākehā for the same crime

Māori make up 50 per cent of New Zealand’s prison population, despite only accounting for 15 per cent of the population.

Right now, one in every 142 Māori New Zealanders is in prison.

This compares with one in every 808 non-Māori.

The racial imbalance is worse for female prisoners. Māori women make up 63 per cent of the female prison population.

But you do the crime, do the time, right?

That’s all well and good until you consider that once convicted of a crime, Māori are more likely to be sent to prison than non-Māori.

Eighteen per cent of Māori convicted of a crime receive a prison sentence, compared with 11 per cent of Pākehā.

For almost every category of crime, Māori were more likely to be sent to prison in 2017.

Consider a low-level crime like drug use or possession: In 2017, 7.3 per cent of Māori convicted went to prison, compared with 2 per cent of Pākehā.

Within two years of being released from prison, two thirds of Māori have been re-convicted. For Pākehā, it’s just over half.

In the same time period, 47 per cent of Māori have been back to prison. For Pākehā, 36 per cent have been back.

DESIGN Kathryn George
EDITOR John Hartevelt