Good news on the drug front for Whānau

  • Hon Meka Whaitiri

Māori people will be pleased at yesterday’s Budget news that $58.1 million will be spent on the fight against international drug smuggling networks, says Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri. 

“Whānau across the country are being ripped apart by the scourge of meth and other drugs. The use of illicit drugs is believed to cost this country $1.8 billion in social harm every year.  

“The statistics are stark. Māori are three and half times more likely than non-māori to be meth users. More than half of meth users are unemployed or on the sickness benefit. 

“I have no doubt that meth is harming small communities across New Zealand. From Tairāwhiti to Northland, Māori leaders are rightly concerned at the prevalence and easy access to this drug. 

“Yesterday’s announcement will not solve all our drug problems but Customs’ aims to reduce the harm to our people by disrupting the supply of illicit drugs through the disruption and dismantling of smuggling by criminal groups. This will mean the hiring of 127 new Customs’ officers. 

“Customs will support efforts to reduce demand for meth by building stronger relationships with iwi and hapū. This will include outreach campaigns and an increase in community engagement.  

An additional $3.9 million in capital funding will allow for the purchase of new equipment from inflatable patrol boats to kennels for Customs’ detector drug dog teams. 

“ Māori should be assured that we now have far more weapons in the battle to control the flow of illicit drugs into New Zealand. We now need the support services for our small communities to deal with the drug menace. “ says Meka Whaitiri.