State of the Nation Peace Report

Indicators of Peace and Domestic Violence in New Zealand
By Gerhard Joseph 
24 October 2014

This report provides insight into New Zealand’s performance in the Global Peace Index (GPI) in comparison with other countries.  The GPI is an annual report published by the Institute for Economics and Peace regarding levels of peacefulness in different countries.  It measures peace through 22 different indicators, thus raising the question of whether these indicators sufficiently capture the concept of ‘peace’. 

Gerhard JosephThis report finds that peace is a difficult concept to define, and many academics have agreed that there are two aspects to peace – a negative and a positive aspect.  Negative peace means the absence of violence and the fear of violence; positive peace is having institutions and societal structures in place which promote peace and harmony within the community.  Although the GPI only looks into negative peace within countries, it is still a useful tool towards understanding what positive peace looks like. 

New Zealand, while ranking fourth in terms of peacefulness according to the GPI, has one of the highest levels of domestic abuse in the OECD.  Because domestic abuse is not a specific indicator of peace in the GPI, this report looks at how levels of domestic abuse in New Zealand compares with other similarly ‘peaceful’ countries.  Using data from various governmental and intergovernmental agencies, this report finds that while New Zealand does have a high level of domestic abuse, it is not an isolated case. 

The top countries in the GPI report also have significant levels of domestic abuse – on average, one in three women experience physical or sexual abuse, and 22 per cent of all women suffer physical or sexual abuse from a partner or spouse.  This report also finds that there is severe underreporting of domestic abuse due to lack of access, availability and information of services in place for the victims.  This also means that there might be a perception within the general public that domestic abuse is more uncommon than what is the reality. 

Gerard Joseph presentationThis report acknowledges the fact that it has limitations.  The information and data represented in this report comes from a myriad of sources and as such recognises that data can be inaccurate.  Therefore, this report recommends that there be more thorough and regular survey into the levels of domestic violence within all countries in order to better reflect the realities of domestic violence, and in order for policy makers to plan and implement better and adequate services. 

Having regularly updated statistics on levels of domestic violence in New Zealand also provides crucial information to determine how effective the current policies addressing domestic violence are.  

Read the full report here