28 Jul 2014

Urewera apology 'postive step'

7:28 am on 28 July 2014

Tuhoe people targeted in the 2007 Urewera police raids say an apology by Police Commissioner Mike Bush, though overdue, is a positive step towards reconciliation.

Last year the Independent Police Conduct Authority found the armed raids and roadblocks were unlawful and unreasonable.

On Sunday the commissioner visited those affected and apologised to several families, including that of veteran activist Tame Iti, who served 30 months on firearms offences following the raids.

Mr Iti's son, Wairere, whose home was also raided, said there was a lot of raw emotion at the meeting.

"To Mike Bush's credit he got up and he was very sincere. He spoke directly to the hurt that each of the family members had, and left the whanau feeling like it had been resolved and that they could move on."

However Mr Iti said it was a conversation that should have happened seven years ago, and his father wanted the Commissioner to understand the door had always been open and time and money could have been saved if the apology had been more forthcoming.

Mr Bush said the raids caused a number of well established relationships to be damaged. He said it was personally important to him to apologise to the children who were caught up in the raids so they knew what happened to them was wrong. Police have also reached a confidential settlement with the Tuhoe iwi.

Tame Iti posted two pictures on Twitter of him and Mr Bush during the visit.

Tame Iti and Mike Bush.

Tame Iti and Mike Bush. Photo: TWITTER

IPCA recommendations

The Independent Police Conduct Authority made seven recommendations in its report for change following its investigation of the Urewera raids.

The IPCA orders police to re-engage with Tuhoe and build bridges with the Ruatoki community.

Police should amend the Planning and Command chapter of its manual to include provision for a log to be maintained of all decisions during the planning phase of major operations.

Police should start preparing impact assessments for all operations which could have a significant adverse effect on a community.

Armed Offenders Squad members should no longer wear balaclavas on their own - they should be worn with a ballistic helmet.

Policy changes were recommended for the handling of road blocks and search warrants which involve children and vulnerable people.

Also recommended was the review and clarification of policy and guidelines regarding the taking of photographs of people at road blocks or road closures.

Another recommendation was to ensure that any amendments or clarification of policy are reflected in police training.