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Whai tikanga: In pursuit of justice. Māori interactions with the criminal justice system and experiences of institutional racism : A thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, New Zealand.
The criminal justice system in Aotearoa, New Zealand has a destructive history of
interactions with Māori. Considered alongside the broader context of colonisation, this
history provides a backdrop against which to understand contemporary Māori
experiences of institutional racism. This research project aims to provide a robust
understanding of Māori historical, contemporary and lived experiences of institutional
racism within the criminal justice system. Participants were five Māori adults who have
had personal encounters with the criminal justice system. They were interviewed about
their experiences within the criminal justice system, with a focus on their experiences of
institutional racism. As Kaupapa Māori research, within the field of discursive
psychology, deficit constructions of Māori were rejected and there is an explicit
inclination toward a constructive narrative of Māori culture, identity, and history. From
the analysis emerged four recurring linguistic resources; blatant racism, Māori and
Pākehā identities, Māori as trapped in the criminal justice system, and Māori identity
and culture as strength. Participants’ perspectives of the criminal justice system reveal
that prevailing power relations facilitate the belittling of Māori identity, intrude on
Māori rights, and diminish cultural integrity. Institutional racism is constructed as
enduring and guided by notions of Māori cultural inferiority. The criminal justice
system has persistently operated to disadvantage and marginalise Māori and the
discussion extends on arguments for a separate Māori criminal justice system.