Maori and criminal offending: a critical appraisal

Dannette Marie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Since the advent of the Maori renaissance in New Zealand and the shift toward the sociopolitical ideology of biculturalism, the disproportionate representation of Maori in prisons has increased. Criminal justice sector policy asserts that this overrepresentation is best understood as the outcome of Maori experiencing impairments to cultural identity resulting from colonisation. Central to this claim is the notion that ethnicity is a reliable construct by which distinctions can be made between offenders regarding what factors precipitate their offending, as well as best practices for their rehabilitation. Despite the absence of empirical support, this claim has been transformed from a conjectural claim to a veridical fact resulting in what is termed here ‘the wishing well approach’. An alternative perspective is recommended to improve current efforts to address the issue of Maori being overrepresented in New Zealand's criminal justice sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-300
Number of pages9
JournalThe Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • Maori
  • criminal offending
  • ethnicity
  • identity


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