Heitia Case *
James L. Rota, District Court, Hamilton
continue to claim that differences exist. The
claims are increasing in frequency, in volume and insistence - some say
sovereignty and separate justice system; some say a different system in another
place; some say this system but by my peers; some cry but submit.
But all say “Vengeance is not the way”.
Where is the dignity? Where is the care?
Where is the listening and responding in the context of what matters -
surely effective remedy is there. Justice
done where justice is, elevates the human spirit and is a justice of a more
excellent kind. The call for marae
justice is simply a call to go where justice is.
base my comments on this subject on my personal views and experiences.
I will discuss “Marae Justice” within the
context of the case of Police v Heitia.
That case is notable for many features, a discussion of which may assist in
understanding in such cases of-.
who it is that is calling
why the call
why the insistence
the nature of quality of the call
for “Marae Justice”
justice merits suggested in the call.
discussion might illustrate a wisdom which if applied in the correction process,
could well give keys to effective remedy.
was charged with serious crimes of violence towards his children.
He pleaded guilty. As he presented for sentence, so did many from his Raglan
community, young and old. They
asked if they could take him back to Raglan to be dealt with in the Maori way.
Ultimately on sentencing, they did.
The factors of the case though, clearly showed that in the range of usual
sentencing options, imprisonment was appropriate.
was heralded in the media for good and evil, as the first “Marae Justice”
case. That was not accurate, but
that is another story. His
community programme was eagerly accepted. His
community tried. Heitia failed.
He was ultimately given an alternative sentence.
might ask: Who were his community?
Some might say the indigent waste-class. A look at history will explain who.
They were his whanau - close and distant, related by whakapapa, as close
as they felt. They were all of
modest or no income. A remnant
people. The kaumatua came in
the call for Marae Justice?
say the easy option. Others say-
Whakapapa, the pain of
experience, and the Maori view of life is the motivation.
Increased confidence found in
Current processes do not
meet Maori expectations of restoration,
Belief in the need, in the face
of current failures, to apply the Maori way.
The essential part that the
community context must play in effective remedy.
Why the Insistence on Marae Justice?
Some call it defiance,
Recognition of an increased sense
of identity as Maori, and of the
capacity of those who are Maori to heal their own.
An increase in strength and
confidence, along with a greater willingness
to challenge, and an
unwillingness to defer
Grievance and conviction driven.
Increasing intolerance at
isolation from the existing judicial processes
Continued failure in effective
acknowledgement of cultural differences.
Quality and Justice Merits in the Call for Marae Justice.
say there are no such merits but merely an avoidance of consequence and cultural
division. Others say insecurities
and fears and the designs of crafty men notwithstanding, real justice, justice
that is accurate, motivates the human spirit.
That justice is only to be found in reckoning with issues in context,
amongst those who might best point to where justice in the case might be found -
at the centre of what is relevant and valuable, where feelings change and errant
conduct goes away.
What is that context?
say its a physical place. Others
may be, but more so it is an approach, a matter of application of features
of the Maori way, the balance of features of value. Those features include the
and pivotal feature of personal place and envelopment, and unconditional love -
the resultant feature of whakapapa. The
Maori is his community - they can never give up.
all matters the emblem of things spiritual must be in the vanguard. Those things of a temporal kind will follow as a
the Offender from the Offence
the offender - damn the offence, all people are good people, some just do bad things. To change what a man does, there must
first be a change in what a man feels All offending is feelings motivated or
based. Pay attention to the feelings issue first - the conduct issue will go
Back the Overlays of Hurt
Hear the grievances of the otherwise inarticulate.
Who Has Nothing, Has Nothing to Lose
Build the mana of
the person. Give him his dignity.
In that, he will find something to lose. Reprove proportionally and
appropriately, but always with an increase in caring.
is proposed, albeit in general terms, that the application of these features, in
balance, in the context of what is of value in the community of the offender and
within what is perceived by him to be just, will result in a justice that works
- to motivate, to restore.
is Marae Justice then?
is changing or at least broadening our philosophy of what is just, and pursuing
that justice wherever it is to be found. That
might be in a physical place. It
might be within a perception. There must be opportunity for those served by
justice, to say where justice is. Justice
done there is justice in truth.
who call for a different way surely must mirror the concerns of us all.
Vengeance is only destructive. The
different way sought by Maori is said to involve the power of unconditional
love, and an understanding of the true nature of offending - that errant conduct
is merely a symptom of the condition of the heart. In the treatment of offending
we must first look to the heart, and refuse to be deterred by the conduct. With
patience we must attend to the feelings, and the conduct will go away.
This is a synopsis of Judge Rota’s address