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Prisoner voting a Treaty right

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A Waitangi Tribunal claimant has told the crown it needs to return a treaty right to prisoners by allowing them to vote.

Tom Hemopo claims the law change brought in by the previous National Government is racist and discriminatory because of its disproportionate effect on Māori electorates.

The former probation officer says the crown’s submissions indicated no room for movement, so in yesterday’s hearing he drew on the language of rangatira to counter them.

"I said something like this. Whakatū, initiate or begin. This is about changing your direction in life. The life principle of mauri. This is about your wellness and prestige and roa is inside, this is about getting rid of all the baggage you have carried around for years," he says.

Tom Hemopo says the whole idea of prisons is counter to tikanga Māori.

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