This paper reviews the principles of restorative justice in New Zealand's Maori indigenous culture prior to British colonization, explores its disappearance from New Zealand society in the aftermath of formal British colonization in 1840, and assesses the prospects for reintegrating restorative justice principles into contemporary responses to juvenile and adult offenders.
Pre-colonial Maori concepts of justice involved restoring balance by compensating victims, promoting kinship responsibility, imposing corporal sanctions, using diffuse and uncertain sanctions, providing chiefs with considerable discretion, and instituting punishments of a public nature that involved the community. In the view of the British colonists, this system seemed to encourage disorder and crime, and it was inconsistent with emerging European concepts of individual responsibility, demand for order and certainty in punishments, replacement of corporal punishments with imprisonment, and the removal of punishment from public view. By the end of the 19th century, the Maori had been assimilated into the British way of life. Maori practices, however, are being restored to some extent in contemporary New Zealand practices in processing youthful offenders. Juvenile offenders are typically processed through family group conferences that involve meetings with the youths, their families, and victims to develop a satisfactory resolution to the offense. Using Maori concepts when responding to adult offenders is more problematic, although pressure to reduce the use of imprisonment may result in greater acceptance of these practices. 3 tables and 37 references
Criminal Justice Press/Willow Tree Press
United States of America