skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 121758 Find in a Library
Title: Brief History of Penal Policy in New Zealand (From Prison Review -- Te Ara Hou: The New Way, P 9-20, 1989 -- See NCJ-121757)
Corporate Author: New Zealand Ministerial Cmtte of Inquiry into The Prisons System
United States of America
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: New Zealand Government Printer
Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand Ministerial Cmtte of Inquiry into The Prisons System
Wellington, New Zealand
Sale Source: New Zealand Government Printer
New Zealand
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: New Zealand
Annotation: A historical review of the New Zealand prison system indicates that penal policies are largely the result of British colonization during the 19th century.
Abstract: From about 1840 on, communally recognized laws of mana and tapu were the sources of both order and dispute in traditional Maori society. Negligence leading to personal or property damage was punishable, as were nuisance, trespass, defamation, and seduction. Customary dispute settlement within Maori society varied in accordance with offense seriousness. Punishment involved the withdrawal of community assistance, compensation, beating, banishment, and infrequent execution. For petty offenses, the goals of reconciliation and restoration to normal social relationships were achieved by relatively equitable procedures. For more serious offenses, however, punishment and retribution were swift and severe. Prior to 1846, there were no generally accepted rules regulating prisons or prisoners. In 1846, the Prisons Ordinance declared all existing prisons to be public institutions, and the governor was authorized to regulate the prison system. No real progress was made in penal policy development until 1876 when prison control was centralized. The year 1910 was a turning point in prison reform when rehabilitation received primary emphasis. Rehabilitation was subsequently expanded to focus on short sentences and noncustodial alternatives to prison, and the Criminal Justice Act of 1954 reflected this rehabilitation emphasis. In general, penal policies in the 1960's aimed at normalizing conditions within prisons as a rehabilitative measure. In 1981, following a major review of penal policies, the Criminal Justice Act was redrafted to reflect the view that offenders should be dealt with in the community as far as possible and kept out of prison. It is concluded that problems in New Zealand's prison system over the last 100 years demonstrate the need for a national approach and the importance of reflecting multiculturalism in penal policies. 5 references.
Main Term(s): History of corrections
Index Term(s): Corrections policies; Foreign correctional systems; New Zealand; Rehabilitation
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.