17 Jul 2014

Police to meet marae representatives

9:23 pm on 17 July 2014

The police will meet members of a Taranaki marae over police officers entering a marae in Stratford, waking 25 children and questioning them about an assault.

Police were hunting for a person in relation to an attack on a 61-year old man when they entered the Whakaahurangi marae at 2.30am on 12 July.

Youth leader Maioha Tokotaua said children taking part in a school holiday programme were woken and asked to stand against a wall with their hands out. Some were also photographed.

Three were children - aged as young as four - and the rest were teens. They were left frightened and upset, he said.

Mr Tokotaua said although they would never harbour anyone running from the law, and would always help police, the marae would not tolerate the police or anyone else disrespecting or dismissing the tikanga of the pa.

A complaint had been made to the Independent Police Conduct Authority, and marae elders wanted an apology from police and the matter to be dealt with quickly.

Inspector Ross Grantham said police would meet members of the marae on the matter on Monday.

However, he said officers had permission to talk to the children on the night and that he was satisfied they had good reason to go on to the marae. However, he admitted he did not have the full details.

"So once I have the full details, and the accuracy of them, again I'll be talking with the marae representatives and we'll sort it out," Mr Grantham said.

"I'd like to speak to with representatives of the marae and the whanau and work out exactly what their complaints are.

"I'm really keen to keep the relationship with the marae. I'm really keen to resolve this, and I'm sure that we can resolve it."

The constables had acted as they thought they should at the time, Mr Grantham said.

"Just because no arrests were made, it doesn't mean things have gone wrong.

"We make inquiries all the time where we don't arrest anybody, and that's the whole purpose of conducting investigations."