The Agenda for Change and its Impact on Maori Over-Representation in the Justice System

 The Hon. Georgina Te Heuheu, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Minster for Courts

 I deeply regret that I cannot be with you today at the Tangata Whenua I Roto I Te Tika, Indigenous People and Justice, the first wananga of the Ngai Tatou 2020 series of Nga Kaitaunaki Rangahau Iwi Tuatahi Puta i te Ao - the Foundation for Indigenous Research in Society and Technology.

When I accepted the Foundation’s invitation to give the opening address, The Agenda for Change, I did so with great delight. The reasons for my acceptance were many, but the major reason was that this would be a forum where indigenous people and others will engage in discussions surrounding the existing imbalances in the justice system.  This is whether these imbalances are in the jurisprudence and practice of the law, imbalances in the populations in practitioners, professionals those charged those convicted or their victims.

 A wananga where we can look at ways to make a difference. A wananga where we can find out where the present justice system may have failed our people, and if so how these systems can be adapted to correct any shortcomings. Although I know that I would have had something to contribute, I was encouraged by one of my colleagues who said “try to remember the saying of our tupuna -             

Nau te rourou, Naku te rourou, ka ora te iwi. - With your contribution and my contribution, the people will flourish.


 It is your challenge today to determine where the difficulties of adaptation lie in the basic elements of our existing systems and how the principles and rights inherent in the Treaty of Waitangi can be applied in an indigenous justice system. I want to urge you all to take an active part in this wananga, you all have something to contribute.

 Remember the other important saying of our tupuna – Ahakoa te iti, he pounamu - no matter how small your contribution is valued.

Regrettably I am unable to make my contribution today because after my acceptance, the Prime Minister asked me to represent the New Zealand Government and people at the United Nations World Population Conference in New York where I am today.

 In my absence, I am still sure that ALL of you here today have a great part to play in The Agenda for Change and its Impact on Maori Over-representation in the Justice System.

I seek your indulgence for my absence in the line of duty and I wish you well in your deliberation over the next two days and in your work beyond that time.


Kia ora koutou katoa.