Māori domestic violence issues were examined by consideration of convictions for assaults on females and children over the last 27 years. Assault convictions increased substantially from the mid 80s to the mid 90s, fell off, and today continues its upward trend. Māori now account for more convictions than any other ethnic group in New Zealand including Europeans. It is time to stop and reconsider the problem of domestic violence because it is quite clear that current policies aimed at ameliorating the problem may not be working. The data indicates that there are social factors that influence Māori domestic violence, factors that should be identifiable, but for the moment remain largely unknown. The progression of domestic violence as measured by convictions over the last 27 years clearly indicate that the problem is amenable to social intervention if only the right interventions can be identified. Changes in the conviction rates for violent crimes and assaults against females and children coincided with the introduction of the Children’s, Young Person’s, and Their Families Act of 1989, and the introduction of the Domestic Violence Act of 1995 suggesting that government legislation could have influenced the conviction rates. Following the introduction of the Domestic Violence Act in 1995 the conviction rate of Māori offenders increased substantially above that of Pākehā forcing one to ask the question summarized in the title of this paper. In addition, the Sentencing Act of 2002 coincided with an upsurge in convictions of Mäori for domestic violence offenses suggesting that the higher rates of Mäori convictions might be linked more to the manner in which Statutes are interpreted by the criminal justice system than to a sudden behavioural change in Mäori. The data suggests the possibility of discriminatory application of the law against Mäori by the courts that deal with domestic violence issues. Unemployment is another factor that was also considered, but the relationship between unemployment and domestic violence is not an obvious one and, in fact, based on the non-alignment of unemployment with violence convictions, unemployment may not be a driver for domestic violence at all. Current approaches to the problem of Māori domestic violence are at present speculative, and without understanding the driving forces behind the phenomenon those programmes may be limited in their success.

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