21 Mar 2012

Police defend Urewera operation

8:08 am on 21 March 2012

The police officer who led the Urewera raids in 2007 says he stands by the way the operation was carried out.

A jury in the Auckland High Court on Tuesday was unable to agree

on whether Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey were part of an organised criminal group.

The four were convicted of the illegal possession of firearms and restricted weapons in Te Urewera National Park in 2007 and have been remanded on bail for sentencing on 24 May.

Detective Inspector Bruce Good said police were obliged to carry out the operation because they received alarming information about illicit activity.

"If this activity had taken place anywhere else in the country - Rangiototo, Great Barrier, Stewart Island - our response would be the same. It's about safeguarding the community."

Mr Good said he would not do anything differently if he had to lead the same operation again.

The case has so far cost police more than $500,000, and the cost of lawyers for the Crown and defendants has yet to be revealed. But Mr Good believes it was worth it.

"Well, at the end of the day, it's cost a significant amount of money for resources ... but we've stopped some activity that was greatly concerning to me."

Police will not say whether they think a retrial should go ahead.