Bridging the Past and Present: Danny Poa Explores Restorative Justice in the Māori Context

In a recent engaging session, Danny Poa, a native NZ Māori of Tuhoe and Ngāti Kahungunu descent, delved into the intricate relationship between traditional Māori conflict resolution practices and contemporary restorative justice (RJ) procedures. As someone who has been at the crossroads of justice and indigenous science research, Poa brought forth a perspective that was deeply rooted in cultural understanding and modern research methodologies.

With a background both in the justice system and the NGO sector, and currently managing an indigenous Science Research Group at the University of Otago, Poa has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience. He is a staunch advocate and practitioner of RJ, having devoted the past five years to its practice across various providers in New Zealand.

Poa’s presentation revolved around the intriguing research grant awarded to his team earlier in the year. Their exploration was focused on the impact of restorative practices in New Zealand, specifically as they pertain to native Māori participants. The audience was treated to an enlightening overview of how conflict resolution was traditionally approached among the Māori, and the intriguing parallels and disparities that exist between those methods and the restorative justice mechanisms employed today.

One of the highlights of Poa’s talk was the data his team collected from seasoned Māori RJ practitioners. This first-hand information provided profound insights into the nuances of practicing RJ within a community deeply connected to its ancient traditions and customs. As the team gears up to share their findings through multiple article publications, Poa offered the audience a sneak peek into the ground-breaking revelations they have uncovered.

Poa emphasized that while their research primarily focused on the Māori context, the implications extend far beyond New Zealand’s borders. The findings could spark transformative discussions on how RJ can evolve in other indigenous contexts, such as those in Australia, Canada, the U.S., and the wider Pacific region. By examining the cultural intricacies of the Māori and their approach to conflict resolution, there lies potential for other indigenous communities to mold RJ practices that align more closely with their own traditions.

Closing his presentation, Poa made a passionate plea for a collective effort. He viewed this platform as a crucial space for professionals, academics, and community leaders to engage in constructive dialogues. By leveraging the findings of his research, he hopes to see restorative justice practices evolve, not just to be more inclusive of Māori customs but to be adaptable to a multitude of indigenous traditions worldwide.

In essence, Danny Poa’s session was a captivating blend of historical reverence and forward-looking vision. As restorative justice seeks to heal and mend, incorporating the wisdom of ancient traditions like those of the Māori could pave the way for more holistic and culturally resonant practices globally.