"How do we stop getting in the way of Māori and Pasifica flourishing, and reverse the trauma of colonisation and disadvantage?"

This sentence is drawn from a new report into family violence in New Zealand. The report is the third in a series examining the factors leading to New Zealand’s high incarceration rates.

Hāpai Te Hauora, New Zealand’s largest Māori public health organisation, welcomes the report and its unflinching assessment of the causal effects of colonisation and institutional racism on whānau Māori in 2018.

‘This discussion paper is significant for the story it tells us about the role of family violence in New Zealand’s extraordinarily high incarceration rates," says Rangi McLean, National Cultural Advisor at Hāpai. "It is also significant because it does not sugar-coat the intergenerational impacts of colonisation on our people, and it reminds us that the solution lies in revitalising and enabling pre-colonial social norms such as respectful whānau relationships, collective obligations and honouring mothers and children. These are the practices which were normal for Māori before colonisation. What we are seeing now in our communities in terms of domestic violence and child abuse is a cultural aberration."

Chief Operation Manager for Hāpai, Selah Hart, is hopeful that the efforts of the Office of the Chief Science Advisor will not be in vain. "This is a refreshingly practical and realistic report. We can see clearly where the problems are, and who should be leading the solutions."

Hart continues "We particularly appreciate the acknowledgement of the extra burdens historically placed on Māori providers who are asked to provide culturally appropriate solutions, but which are evaluated based on Western notions of value which had little relation to what we were trying to achieve and which were often linked to funding. This has been a bitterly difficult challenge for many of us in the sector over years of working on behalf of our people, and it would truly reflect a new paradigm if this were to change."

The report suggests a range of solutions including:

Resourcing iwi, community and Māori led NGOs to deliver appropriate and effective services 

Ensuring interventions, from programme design to review and evaluation, are grounded in a Māori worldview, supported by relevant science 

A 'meaningful' government-Māori partnership leading the work which has a kaupapa Māori grounding 

Investment in interventions which take a life-course approach, with a big focus on early childhood 

Work with media to shift from ‘victim-blaming’ and individual service failure narratives to awareness-raising and positive change

You can read the full report here