17 Feb 2012

Officer details huts found in Te Urewera National Park

6:17 pm on 17 February 2012

The High Court in Auckland has heard how police officers followed one of the people accused of attending military-style camps in Te Urewera National Park for several hours, including into a gun shop.

Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailer are on trial charged with participating in an organised criminal group and with unlawful possession of firearms and restricted weapons.

Detective Adam Eltham told the court on Friday that he followed Mr Kemara into a gun shop in an Auckland suburb and then shadowed him until he was last seen heading towards Taneatua in Bay of Plenty.

Officer Hamish MacDonald told the court he deliberately crossed the road in front of Mr Kemara when he entered Te Puke, so he could take a photo.

Another member of the police force, whose name is suppressed, told the court that he found two buildings in Te Urewera National Park in May 2007 that appeared to be huts.

He said they contained mattresses and one was set up as a meeting house, or wharenui, and another was an eating area, or wharekai.

The officer said when police returned to the site later they found empty cartridges and a tree which appeared to have been used for target practice.

A defence lawyer for Mr Iti, Russell Fairbrother, suggested the huts could have been laid out in the way they were because they were of significance to local iwi.

Juror dismissed

Earlier on Friday, the jury was reduced to eleven members after one was excused because her brother died.

Justice Rodney Hansen told the court the juror would like to travel to America to attend the funeral.

He excused her and said the trial would proceed with 11 jurors.

The trial continues on Monday.