May 10, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

‘White’ justice blamed for Maori conviction rate

2 min read

Maori have high conviction rates for violent crimes because “white administrators” perceive them to be excessively violent, according to a scientific review.

Scientist Gary Raumati Hook in his review Warrior genes and the disease of being Maori challenges claims by Rod Lea and Geoffrey Chambers that Maori were more prone to violence because of the “warrior gene”.

In 2006, Wellington researcher Dr Lea told an Australian genetics conference that Maori men had a “striking over-representation” of monoamine oxidase strongly associated with aggressive behaviour.

The presence of the gene also went “a long way to explaining some of the problems Maori have”, he told delegates.

Dr Hook said if the gene theory was correct, being Maori would be like a disease and the race “might then be controllable with drugs”.

Maori spoke out about the research three years ago, including MP Hone Harawira, who said poverty and deprivation were the main contributors to Maori violence rather than the gene.

Dr Lea later said the reports of his research were unjustified and misunderstood. He would not comment yesterday.

In the latest review, Dr Hook said Maori nature was not the reason for high criminality rates.

Maori are not borderline psychotics, retarded, hyper-aggressive, depressive, antisocial, impulsive, suicidal risk-takers and to suggest otherwise is irresponsible and not supported by the facts.”

He said the research was seriously flawed and that 160 years of colonisation could be the explanation as to why Maori had high conviction rates for violent crimes.

An explanation of the high conviction rates … is not to be found in nature but elsewhere perhaps … how the justice system deals with people whom most of its Eurocentric white administrators perceive as being excessively violent.”

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, chairwoman of the Government’s ministerial committee on family violence, welcomed Dr Hook’s review.

She said the original research was fundamentally flawed. “I’m disappointed that two reputed scientists have done a disservice to a vulnerable part of our society and science by claiming they have come up with a breakthrough, when all they have really done is make our job of finding solutions even harder.”

Kia ora to the Dominion Post (Greer MacDonald) for this article.

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