Insights from Māori demographic change and Māori incarceration over the last century

Insights from Māori demographic change and Māori incarceration over the last century
Photo by Meg Jerrard on Unsplash

The distinctive demographic characteristics of Māori during the 20thcentury have significantly influenced the impact on Māori of public policy in many fields. By grouping birth cohorts to quantify the experiences of five generations of Māori over the 20thcentury, it is possible to identify where shifts in legislation and institutional practices, particularly of the Police and the Judiciary, coincide with the generational shifts that reflect societal and demographic change. In this paper, insights into intergenerational change have been based on birth cohort experiences estimated from 1911. Young males under 20 are now less likely to enter prison than any generation over the last 100 years. Differences remain in the likelihood of apprehension and sentencing for offending between Māori and those of European ethnicity. This has persisted regardless of justice policy. which has shifted from being strongly punitive to emphasising prevention, diversion and rehabilitation. The impact on the prison population over the next twenty years will be substantial, as it will decline and be predominantly from older age groups.

Len Cook has been Government Statistician of New Zealand 1992 to 2000. From 2000 to 2005 he was National Statistician of the United Kingdom, and Registrar-General of England and Wales. His longstanding interests are in the areas of population change and public policy, public administration, official statistics and the place of science in policy. Len is now mainly involved in the application of statistics and methods to policy areas, spanning justice, child protection, retirement provision and health. In more recent work, he has sought to widen understanding of the distinct demographic dynamics of Māori, and how that has long influenced the impact of policy and will continue to do so. Len was a Member, NZ Royal Commission on Social Policy (1987-88), and Families Commissioner and Chair of the board of Superu (2015-2018). Recipient of the Te ORA Maarire Goodall Award in 2015. Len graduated in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Otago in 1971.

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Date & time

Tue 19 Sep 2023, 1:00pm to 2:00pm


Room 4.69, RSSS Building, ANU, 146 Ellery Crescent, Acton and by Zoom


Len Cook


James O'Donnell


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