Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used her Waitangi speech on Tuesday to highlight the disproportionate numbers of Māori in prison.
The PM announced that so long as the incarceration gap exists, the Government has failed its end of the partnership.
Former National Courts Minister Chester Borrows joined The AM Show to discuss the steps the PM would have to take to solve the disproportion.
The PM’s declaration to solve the disproportion was “pretty ballsy”, he said. However, Mr Borrows believes policies to solve the issue “won’t necessarily be popular with the public.”
"If she's got the courage to do that, good on her," he told The AM Show.
But Ms Ardern will have to make "big calls" to fix the problem, he said.
Māori make up only 14.6 percent of New Zealand's population, but a whopping 51 percent of the prison population.
Turning a blind eye – is that racism or ignorance?
Mr Borrows described the disproportion of Māori incarcerations as an “institutional” problem, but avoided calling it a racist issue.
“Police are saying ‘they are shooting where the ducks are.’
“Turning a blind eye – is that racism or ignorance?” he asks. “I think it’s a little bit of both.”
"We've got the lowest crime rate we've had in about 30 years, the lowest number of people appearing before our court in 30 years and yet we've got the highest prison population we've had in forever,” he said.
Mr Borrows explained that other factors with a high impact on Māori need to be investigated, like mental health and substance abuse.
"If you do nothing about it, nothing targeted toward Māori, is that racist? Seems pretty racist to me.”
Watch the full interview with Chester Borrows above.
The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.