Public Lecture: The Honourable Justice Whata

Lecture description

The idea of equality, and more specifically substantive equality, has been used to promote changes to the criminal justice system to respond to the gross asymmetric representation of Māori in prisons. Conversely, equal treatment under the law or what Justice Whata calls formal equality has been identified as a basis for rejecting any “race” based discrimination whether positive or negative, in the operation of criminal justice.  While jurists and criminologists  have for decades grappled with the competing ideas of substantive equality and formal equality; the proper application of the principle of equality has particular currency at this point in time in our legal history, given the apparently entrenched disproportionate representation of Māori in prisons. In this lecture, Justice Whata examined this important debate at a jurisprudential level, but with an eye to what is happening to Māori in the justice system and how that system is responding.