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Corrections nurses outraged over scrapping of te Tiriti provisions

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) is outraged that multiple te Tirtiti o Waitangi provisions are set to be scrapped from the Corrections Amendment Bill. These provisions would have compelled the Department of Corrections to improve outcomes for Māori in the corrections system.

Corrections Minister Mark Mitchell is seeking Cabinet approval to "remove these provisions in their entirety".

Nurses working at the frontline in prisons are voicing their concerns.

Corrections nurse and NZNO delegate Tracey Tui states, "Our people are already grossly overrepresented due to systemic racism and conscious bias at the hands of other government agencies, and now they want to scrap the very provisions that allow our whai tangata access to programmes and support that allow them access to their own culture. It’s deeply shameful and embarrassing to continue working for a department that would willingly do this to my people".

Corrections nurse and NZNO delegate Michael Pye says the removal of these provisions will have an extremely detrimental impact on equitable rehabilitation and health outcomes for Māori in the corrections system.

"Corrections currently have obligations to take measures for Māori to not only achieve equity for rehabilitation but also for healthcare. The Department has been putting programmes in place aimed at equitable outcomes for Māori but by removing te Tiriti provisions, it will also remove the obligation for healthcare programmes to continue.

"Through our registration authority, the Nursing Council of New Zealand, nurses also have responsibility to work with iwi and Māori to give effect to and realise the promise of te Tiriti. Removal of te Tiriti provisions puts nurses working in prisons in the challenging position of working for an employer who doesn’t have the same obligations."

NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter is calling on the Coalition Government to stop the removal of te Tiriti o Waitangi provisions from the Corrections Amendment Bill.

"With the current drive to by this Government to cut costs, and the gradual removal of budget to frontline services, it’s likely that these important healthcare and rehabilitation programmes will stop. We know there are inequities for Māori in both the justice system and the health sector. Programmes in prisons aimed at reducing these in the long term should not be scrapped as a result of short-term thinking." 

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