Here we are. Waitangi Day, 2040. Aotearoa has finally become a modern and caring nation, and we’ve closed the last prison - for good. It’s the day we’ve been dreaming of for so long, and we’ve worked so hard for! But - I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning.
Between 1920 and 2020 our country changed. A lot.
Our cities became more diverse. Women started to work more outside the home, and parliament became more representative. Social movements grew too, as people took hold of their power as citizens and rose up for their rights, their land, and their love. It wasn’t all great news though. Politicians of all stripes made decisions that pushed back progress. The government took over 100,000 children into state custody. The majority were Māori, and many were abused.
Working people faced huge income losses, as jobs were sent overseas and factories were shut down. The “Mother of all Budgets” weakened social support for people who were already struggling. Failed laws divided our communities. People in government incarcerated thousands of Māori, failing time and again to live up to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Social justice advocates tried to guide us down a different path, but they were ignored by politicians, in favour of terrible imported policies like “three strikes” and prison voting bans—which only made things worse. By the 2010s, New Zealand was in real trouble.
Helped by government neglect, property speculators were treating our homes like get-rich-quick schemes, and Big Oil had tricked us into dependence on fossil fuels. Families were living in poverty, and our prisons were overflowing.
There was a housing crisis, a poverty crisis, an environmental crisis, and a mental health crisis. And then there was COVID.
For lots of people, life got even more stressful and uncertain. Businesses shut their doors and more people came to rely on our long-neglected welfare system.
In prison, people were locked in cells for 23 hours a day, with no rehabilitation programmes, no visits from family, and little to no contact with their lawyers. Some politicians chose to exploit the stress and uncertainty.They wanted to win votes by turning us against each other. But we didn’t let them divide us.
Instead, all around the country, people did extraordinary things to keep each other safe, connected and well. We moved our lives into our homes, to protect each other. That’s me there, in my last year of high school, taking classes from my bedroom.
Something huge happened during this time too: there was a global uprising of people in support of Black Lives Matter.
In Aotearoa, young Black, Māori and Pasifika people organised marches across the country that called for transformation of our justice system and the end of police violence.
And that’s when it became clear. The systems that shape our lives are ours to create, and ours to change
The ceiling on our political imagination shattered and a window of opportunity opened. We looked to the past and remembered the big steps we’d already taken to make sure everyone in New Zealand could lead healthy, dignified lives.
And we knew it was our moment to be bold. It was now or never.
People from the justice, climate, and equality movements chose to work together. By joining forces, we built momentum, fast. We organised a series of hui and invited people from different backgrounds to imagine a new future.
Indigenous leaders taught us about manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and how to honour Te Tiriti.
Experts from Norway taught us about their approach to restorative justice and rehabilitation.
People who had been in prison, and people who had been victimised in court, told us their dreams for a different way of doing things, and the power of forgiveness.
Together, we created an audacious plan to meet the challenges of our time. And then we made it happen. Some people ran for parliament, while others rallied social movements to build people power for real change.
And some of us got to work scaling up solutions that already exist in our communities: Papakaīnga, community health hubs, and so much more. Over the next 10 years we prioritised the things that matter for healthy people and a happy planet.
In a big win for equality, we finally started paying care and support workers a living wage. We increased housing and income support, so that everyone had a roof over their head, food on the table, and time to spend with their loved ones.
Our financial stress reduced, and our mental health improved, so fewer people were swept into the justice system.
And yes, we transformed the justice system, too. We shifted our focus away from punishment, and towards prevention, restoration and repair. With fewer people locked away in prisons, we had more resources to build our zero-carbon economy. In the 2030s, when we were struck with record-breaking droughts and floods, we were grateful to have started acting when we did.
We became a society that gave everyone what they needed while caring for each other and the planet. We were in a better position than ever to navigate new crises, without leaving anyone behind. Which brings us to today. Waitangi Day 2040. The day we got the news that Aotearoa would finally be a country without prisons - 200 years since Te Tiriti was signed.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. But then I think about how hard we worked, and how compassionate and patient we were along the way. And it’s not hard to believe at all.
Use the links below to go to each section of the blueprint, or download a text version of the blueprint.
Download the blueprint as a PDF here
|Commitment to Te Tiriti partnerships||Pathway to decarceration||Resources for prevention and community wellbeing||Investing in alternative modes of justice|
|National||No Policy||No||Partial||No Policy|
|NZ First||No Policy||No Policy||No Policy||No Policy|
|Māori Party||Yes||Yes||No Policy||No Policy|
|Act||No Policy||No Policy||No Policy||No Policy|
|TOP||No Policy||Yes||No Policy||Partial|
|New Conservative||No Policy||No||No Policy||No Policy|