Coster: Racism important issue for future of New Zealand


The commissioner of police, Andrew Coster thinks racism was one of the most important issues for the future of New Zealand.

He said this when speaking at a vigil for George Floyd which was held at St Peter’s Church in Willis St, Wellington on Wednesday.

“The events that led to the death of George Floyd are shocking. The complete absence of humanity, or even fairness … it rightly triggered an outcry in the United States and across the globe.”

“In this context, it is right that we gather to reflect on our own situation in Aotearoa.”

Coster believes New Zealand’s style of policing was different from that seen in other countries.

However, he acknowledged that criminal justice outcomes for Māori, in particular, are appalling.

“This is not a situation that we should ever accept, and I do not accept it,” he said.

Coster wore plain clothes on Wednesday and said he acknowledged the police uniform could be seen as a barrier to human connection.

“Despite the uniform, the  police force is an organisation made up of individuals, who are also a part of our communities.”

One of his aspirations as police commissioner is to bring humanity into every police interaction.

“We need to recognise that there is almost always a life course and certain circumstances that lead people to the places they are in when we deal with them,” Coster said.

“We deal with people at the worst times of their lives, and do that day in, day out.”

On Tuesday Coster told Stuff the morale of the police in New Zealand is being affected by the worldwide protests against police racism: “It’s quite a difficult time to be in policing,” he said.


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