Aotearoa New Zealand is widely regarded as a world leader in the development of restorative justice practice, especially with regards to youth justice.
Within the adult criminal justice system, however, restorative approaches are largely restricted to the diversion and pre-sentence areas. At the same time, our rate of imprisonment has reached one of the highest in the developed world, with projections only set to increase. This has had a disproportionate impact on Māori, creating what some have called “Māori mass incarceration.”
The Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice and the Brian Picot Chair in Ethical Leadership at Victoria University of Wellington are combining to host an international conference in October 2018 on how the theory and practice of restorative justice might inform the direction and practice of penal policy in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The conference will bring scholars and practitioners that have employed restorative approaches in the prison sector, especially in the European context, and that have, through various measures, succeeded in reducing their rates of incarceration, conflict in prisons and recidivism, to engage in dialogue with New Zealand academics and policy professionals.
This dialogue will have a distinctive focus on the relationship between restorative philosophy and kaupapa Māori approaches to justice and rehabilitation. Our hope is that by drawing on the overlapping strengths of both streams of knowledge we may be able to fashion more successful ways of dealing with those in prison – ways that better achieve restorative outcomes and are grounded in our own indigenous soil.
In the lead-up to the conference, and at the gathering itself, we want the conference to generate an agreed set of proposals that could serve as a guide for future policy and practice, with respect to the following areas:
The conference will provide an interdisciplinary platform for thinking creatively about how restorative justice and kaupapa Māori approaches together can offer fresh approaches in Corrections and prisoner reintegration.