NZ First leader Winston Peters says Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga is best placed to be in charge of the prison population because he is Polynesian.
He really said that?
It followed an attack on Cabinet Minister Anne Tolley who he said was unqualified to be education minister, a role she held until last year. He said he blamed Tolley and former justice minister Judith Collins for presiding over the privatisation of two of New Zealand’s prisons.
When it was pointed out that Lotu-Iiga had no experience with the prison system, he said: “I think Sam has a greater understanding of some of the psychology of some of the prisoners in New Zealand who happen to be Polynesian and Maori. I think he’s got a slightly better understanding than many people think.”
Asked to clarify is this was because he is a Pacific Islander, Peters said: “Look, if you come from the biggest population group in the prisons you might have a rough idea what some of their concerns and aspirations are better than some other country.
Except Polynesians are not the largest population group in prisons.
Maori are. They are 51% of the prison population, followed by Europeans on 33% and Pacific people on 11%.
If you adjust for population size, then you still have Maori way ahead of Pacific people.
Maybe Peters thinks there is no difference between Maori and Pasifika?