The Police Minister says there's "no place for racism in the New Zealand Police" and promises if instances are found, it will be weeded out.

Stuart Nash said he did not think there was systemic racism in the police.

He was asked today to explain the over-representation of Māori in police statistics and said "we are dealing with that at the moment".

"There is absolutely no place for racism in the New Zealand Police service. They've been clear on that, I've been very clear on that. If it is found within the police force, I expect it to be weeded out immediately."


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Nash said he was working with Justice Minister Andrew Little and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis to address "the issues we inherited in the justice sector".

A study recently found Māori were 1.7 times more likely to end up in court than Pākehā.

The JustSpeak report, released in February, analysed justice and census data from 2013 found Māori women who were arrested in their late teens or early 20s were twice as likely as Pākehā women to end up before a judge.

At the time, deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha said the study didn't show what type of crime was being committed and the disparity could be that Māori were committing more serious offences and ineligible for programmes which diverted people away from court.

"If they are being arrested at the lower end of the scale and those opportunities are not being provided, then I would be concerned."

Nash said today one of the police's core objectives was to reduce Māori offending and Nash said that it was one of Haumaha's "missions".

"Everyone in the executive has made it clear there is no place for racism in the police service."


Police officers charged over death in custody

Nash said police took the 2019 death of a 55-year-old man in custody "very seriously", shown by their decision to today charge three officers with manslaughter.

He hadn't heard a suggestion that racism could be behind the case and said he couldn't comment further because it was now before the courts.

The Police Association earlier urged people not to speculate about the case - and said it was important that there was no suggestion that the death was the result of any physical or violent confrontation between the officers and the deceased.

The charges relate to the death of a 55-year-old man at the Hawera police station in the early hours of June 1, 2019.