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Characteristics related to levels of trust

Here we look at how trust in the police and the media varies by key characteristics of Māori adults. We chose to specifically look at these two institutions because they are at the extremes of the trust levels – the police are the most trusted and media the least.

The characteristics we discuss in this chapter are independently related to trust in the police or media.

See appendix 1 for the analysis used to determine the strength of the relationship between these characteristics and institutional trust.

General trust in people very important

For Māori adults a strong positive relationship exists between general trust in people and trust in institutions. The more trusting Māori are towards people in general, the higher their mean rating for trust in the police and the media (see figure 3).

Figure 3

Graph, Mean rating of trust in the police and media, by Māori adults general trust in people, 2013.

Trust in the police

Youngest and oldest most trusting

The levels of trust in the police among Māori form a U-shaped pattern when represented visually by age group (see figure 4). Māori aged 15–19 and 75+ have the highest levels of trust in the police, compared with middle-aged Māori who have the lowest levels.

Figure 4

Graph, Mean rating of trust in the police, by Māori adults age group, 2013.

Interestingly, this age pattern is similar for trust in the other five institutions asked about in Te Kupenga. However, we see no difference by age group in the degree to which Maori have general trust in other people.

It is difficult to compare directly the patterns of institutional trust in other countries because of differing methodologies in collecting data. However, the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey found a similar pattern by age group. Of Australian indigenous persons aged 15–19, 53.5 percent strongly agreed or agreed they trusted their local police. This compared with 47.5 percent of indigenous persons aged 20–24, 51.8 percent aged 35–39, and 58.2 percent aged 55+.

Sole Māori ethnicity less likely to trust the police

Māori who identify as being of sole Māori ethnicity are less likely to trust the police than those who identify with multiple ethnicities. Those with sole Māori ethnicity had a 5.9 mean level of trust in the police, compared with 6.5 for those with multiple ethnicities.

There is a strong relationship between identifying as sole Māori ethnicity and people’s degree of connection to Māori culture. For example, Ka mārō te aho tapu, ka tau te korowai found that Māori who identify as being of sole Māori ethnicity are more likely to speak more than a few words or phrases of te reo Māori than Māori who identify with multiple ethnicities.

Māori in hardship

There was also an association between a person’s material well-being and their level of trust in the police. As material well-being increased, the mean rating of trust in the police also increased (see figure 5).

Figure 5

Graph, Mean rating of trust in the police, by Māori adults material well-being index, 2013.

Māori with a diploma more likely to trust the police

Māori adults who have a level 5 or 6 diploma are more likely to trust the police than Māori with other levels of qualification. Māori adults who achieved a level 5 or 6 diploma had a mean rating of 6.7 for trust in the police. This compared with a mean of 6.1 for those with no qualification, and 6.3 for those with a bachelor’s degree or above.

Figure 6

Graph, Mean rating of trust in the police, by Māori adults highest educational qualification, 2013.

Experience of discrimination

Māori adults who experienced discrimination are less likely to trust the police than those who had not experienced discrimination. Those who felt they’d been discriminated against in the last 12 months had a mean rating of 6.0 for trust in the police, compared with 6.8 for those who had not felt discriminated against in the last 12 months.

Trust in the media

For trust in the media, similar patterns to trust in the police were evident by age group, hardship, and perceived discrimination. However, it differed in some factors, which are discussed below.

Sole Māori ethnicity more likely to trust the media

Opposite to the finding for trust in the police, Māori who identify as sole Māori ethnicity are more likely to trust the media than those who identify with multiple ethnicities. The mean level of trust in media for those with sole Māori ethnicity was 4.1, compared with 4.0 for those with multiple ethnicities.

Lower educated more likely to trust the media

Māori adults who had no education qualification had a higher mean rating for trust in the media than those who had education qualifications. Those without an achieved education qualification had a mean rating of 4.2 for trust in the media, compared with 3.6 for those with a bachelor’s degree or above.

Figure 7

Graph, Mean rating of trust in the media, by Māori adults highest educational qualification, 2013.

Unemployed more likely to trust the media

Māori adults who were unemployed had a mean rating of 4.3 for trust in the media, compared with 4.0 for those who were employed or not in the labour force.

Measures not related to trust in the police and media

We found some measures to have no (or very little) relationship to Māori adults’ trust in institutions:

  • sex
  • live in an urban or rural location
  • mental health status
  • been a victim of a violent crime in the last 12 months.
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