3 Mar 2014

Urewera 6 have strong case - Flavell

9:31 am on 3 March 2014

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell believes the six people whose house was searched during the Urewera raids in 2007 have a strong case for compensation.

Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, who was jailed as a result of the raids, and five members of the Lambert whanau, whose Auckland house was raided, have filed a civil claim at the High Court in Auckland.

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Protestors gather outside the Auckland High Court in February 2012, demanding the charges against the 'Urewera Four' be dropped. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

They are each claiming $100,000 in compensation for what they say was an unreasonable search and seizure. In the statement of claim in court documents released to Radio New Zealand, they say they were detained and had loaded guns pointed at them by police.

Tuhoe Lambert was originally charged following the raids, on 15 October, but died in 2011.

Mr Flavell told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme another group involved in the raids is also negotiating privately with the Police, which may also result in compensation. Mr Flavell is the MP for Waiariki, the Maori electorate that includes Ruatoki in Bay of Plenty, near where the Crown said military-style camps were being run,

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

'Unreasonable' search

The lawyer representing the six, Charl Hirschfeld, says his clients want it acknowledged they were the subject of unreasonable search or seizure under the Bill of Rights Act in their Manurewa home in 2007.

"It was a big police operation and these people were caught up in a way that they probably shouldn't have been."

Eighteen arrests were made in the raids, which were carried out around the country, although they focussed on Ruatoki.

Valerie Morse, who was arrested but then had the charges against her dropped, says the Lambert whanau were affected more than anyone by the raids.

Ms Morse says she doesn't have enough faith in the justice system to make her own claim but hopes others will be treated fairly.

She says the Lambert family were "particularly terrorised" by the raids. "And I fully support them or anybody else that was affected by the raids seeking whatever justice they feel they can get out of that system."

The Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Human Rights Commission released reports criticising aspects of the police investigation.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson refused to be interviewed about the compensation claim while the matter was before the courts.