Has NZ spent more on Corrections in two years than on all Treaty of Waitangi settlements?

George Driver October 8, 2020

AAP FactCheck Investigation: Is two years of Vote Corrections funding more than the total amount spent on all Treaty of Waitangi settlements?

The Statement

“Two years of Corrections’ vote is more than all the money paid out in all treaty settlements.”

John Tamihere, Maori Party co-leader, October 3, 2020.

The Analysis

The Maori Party wants the COVID-19 recovery to target Maori unemployment and help tackle the high imprisonment rate, which it says is costing New Zealand dearly.

During Newshub Nation’s Powerbrokers minor parties debate, broadcast on October 3, Maori Party co-leader John Tamihere defended his party’s Whanau First policy aimed at ensuring 25 per cent of government projects are led by Maori.

He said the cost of the policy was significantly less than the cost of dealing with the high levels of Maori imprisonment, which he said were a result of high levels of unemployment.

“We’ve got 40,000 Maori between the ages of 14 to 20 not in employment, not in education, not in training,” Mr Tamihere said. “If you do not get them active as a progressive citizen they’ve got nowhere else to go but organised crime.

“You then have to pay, and here’s the number, two years of Corrections. Two years of Corrections Vote is more than all the money paid out in all Treaty settlements.”

Mr Tamihere added: “We cannot lock our way up out of this. We have to make our people positive, progressive citizens and we have to stop being embedded in welfarism.”

AAP FactCheck analysed Mr Tamihere’s statement that two years’ Vote Corrections budget is greater than the total amount paid out in all Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

NZ government budgets are divided into areas called ‘votes’. Vote Corrections is the budget allocated to the NZ Department of Corrections.

Treaty of Waitangi settlements are the result of claims made by Maori against the Crown for breaching the articles of the 1840 Treaty before 1992.

Treaty settlements are now the responsibility of the Crown entity, the Office for Maori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti.

In a written statement to AAP FactCheck, a spokesperson for Te Arawhiti said there had been 90 deeds of settlement negotiated and signed over the past 31 years, totalling $2.272 billion.

The Vote Corrections budget documents show the total annual appropriation of Vote Corrections for 2020/21 was $2.429 billion (page 22). The estimated actual appropriation for 2019/20 was $2.211 billion.

Razor wire on top of a prison fence
 The Maori Party has drawn comparisons between Corrections funding and Treaty of Waitangi pay-outs. 

The Verdict

AAP FactCheck found the statement that two years of the Department of Corrections’ budget is greater than the total amount paid out in all Treaty of Waitangi settlements to be true.

In fact, just one year of Vote Corrections’ total appropriation is greater than all of the money paid out in treaty settlements to date.

True – The checkable claim is true.

Updated: 08/10/202 16:51 AEDT: Removes references to billions in abstract and first par of the Analysis. Also corrects figures in the final par of Analysis to billions.

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