Claims of racism against Pakeha at the government's criminal justice system summit have been boldly made by the mother of a murdered child.

Jayne Crothall - who is a spokesperson for the Sensible Sentencing Trust - stood amid a crowd of around 700 to say she had been attacked over race.

"This has been a horrendous summit for victims of crime. People have been told they don't know what it is like to be a victim because they're European.

"There have been a lot of racist comments made. I have never heard so much racism."


Much of the conference has heard speakers raise the disproportionately high
imprisonment rate of Māori and Māori over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Māori make up 15 per cent of the population but are more than 50 per cent of the prison population.

A high percentage of those in prison are also victims of crime with 50 per cent of crime afflicting just 3 per cent of the population.

Crothall said she wanted to hear about greater accountability and those who admitted they were responsible for the crime they had committed.

"Being accountable and facing what you have done is beneficial."

In 2016, Crothall met the killer of her 3-year-old daughter Brittany, Luke Frederick Sibley, 40.

Justice Minister Andrew Little dismissed suggestions of racism towards Europeans.

"I heard the comment that speaker made, we know we have a system that has resulted in over half the prison population being Māori. That is a challenge we have to deal with."


He said victims of crime of all ethnicities needed to be heard.

Little said he had heard commentary that victims were not being adequately heard and wanted further opportunities to engage.

He said victims were an important part of the justice summit and work was needed to provide better support for those affected by crime.

Little later signalled a special victims' conference would be held after hearing from those who felt the summit did not address those worst affected by crime.

The event in Wellington was always intended to be the government's first step towards reforming the criminal justice system.

Feedback has extended the pathway to reform, paying heed to those who spoke during the summit.

The Labour Maori caucus has also pushed for a summit which would focus on Maori issues with the criminal justice system, a reflection of Maori over-representation in prison and among those who are victims of crime.

Further regional summits are also planned.

The conference was disrupted on its first day with criticism that Māori were being overlooked with former inmate turned mentor Anzac Wallace saying Māori should make up more than half of those tasked with finding solutions to match prison representation.

The keynote speech from Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis hit the question of Māori head on, saying solutions for the disproportionately high imprisonment rate required partnership between the government and New Zealand's indigenous peoples.

Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar had said the organisation would boycott the summit.

His daughter Jess - who leads the Trust's youth wing - is present, along with Leigh Woodman, whose daughter was murdered aged 15 in 1997, and Crothall.

Little says the impact of colonisation on modern New Zealand had to be considered when approaching reform of the criminal justice system.

"It is no doubt a big long term cause of what we're seeing. We have had decades and decades of policies that have stripped a lot of Māori of their assets, their identity, their connection with their whakapapa, with their connection to the land.

"Of course that is going to have an effect about their ability to survive in the type of society we have got at the moment."

The Government's criminal justice summit is in its second day with Corrections putting forward a wish-list of short term solutions to cut the prison population.

The proposals include a stronger focus on mental health initiatives, better reintegration pathways for prisoners heading back into the community and improved rehabilitation services.

The summit has been dismissed as a "talkfest" by the National Party, with Little suggesting that its spokesman should have stayed longer than a few hours to understand the benefit it had.

Minister Aupito William Sio said the use of the word colonisation by those raising questions from the floor during sessions at the summit needed context.

"We're talking about a 30 year system focused on punitive and colonial attitudes and now we are saying we need to change that. This not going to happen over night. It will take time."