Let Chris Brown in - Tariana Turia

Chris Brown. Photo Reuters
Chris Brown. Photo Reuters
Singer Chris Brown should be let in because he can help reduce domestic violence in New Zealand, says Dame Tariana Turia, former Maori Party leader, Cabinet minister and long-time worker to reduce violence in homes.

The backing for the musician comes as the question is raised over how much is enough punishment for the assault on his former girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.

The star has offered a number of public apologies, spoken against domestic violence and worked with domestic violence charities.

Dame Tariana, who has worked to reduce family violence for decades, said she supported Brown's entry to New Zealand because of the connection he would make to young people.

She said the state spent tens of millions of dollars on trying to reach the same group and "very little of it works".

"I think we should be prepared to be open to listening to others who are experienced in this area. We may not like his behaviour at the time but I firmly believe he can get through to people who we would normally not get through to in the course of all the money we are spending and the programs we have got."

Dame Tariana said she spent years travelling the country, visiting homes, marae and prisons.

"Has that made one iota of difference? Probably not. I think we should be taking this opportunity hear from somebody who young people are far more likely to listen to than many others who get resourced considerably to provide programs to them.

"I'm a firm believer in the philosophy of forgiveness. I believe people can change. We continue to isolate people and make them believe there is nothing about them that is good -- and we know that is not true.

"If Chris Brown was willing to come, willing to share some of his time with our young, I am sure would love to spend time with him, I can only think of the benefit to them rather than focus on what he did in his past."

JustSpeak spokeswoman Julia Whaipooti, whose group is pushing for change in the criminal justice system, said there had been a "knee jerk reaction" to news of Brown's desire to tour New Zealand.

"It's contrary to 'he's done the crime, he's done the time'. In this situation, people are saying he's done the time but it's not enough."

Ms Whaipooti said no violence was acceptable but it was important to study what had happened beyond the initial assault.

"We should look at what efforts have been made since he has been convicted. How long after that should a person be continuously convicted and punished for something they served time for?"

She said the answer to the question was key to reforming people by allowing them to engage again with the community.

Ms Whaipooti, who worked as a community lawyer including on domestic violence cases, said Brown's profile could send a positive message which reduced violence.

"It's all coming back to how we reduce offending."

She said continuing to punish people for the crimes they had previously committed was unlikely to have that positive impact.

She pointed to comments by former justice minister Judith Collins, who said Brown was not welcome because New Zealand had enough "wife beaters".

"This kind of reaction isn't conducive to reducing victimisation. It's repunishing someone and almost labelling them as someone who abuses and is always going to be bad. It's not helpful."

Earlier today, the Maori King's spokesman Tukoroirangi Morgan saying Brown would be welcomed by Tainui were he to be allowed into New Zealand.

Women's Refuge chief executive Dr Ang Jury would not be interviewed on the subject but said she wanted to see what effort Brown had made to change.

"Does he have endorsements from Women's Shelters in America? What are the agencies involved in anti-violence in the USA saying about his 'changed behaviours'?"

She also said New Zealand should reject all musicians visiting this year with domestic violence issues.

Brown has been involved in a string of charities, including his involvement in the Jenesse Center, Los Angeles' domestic violence oldest charity, since 2009.

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