25 May 2013

MP calls for police humility over Urewera raids

6:30 pm on 25 May 2013

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell says police don't have a grip on the effect of the Urewera police raids and risk creating resentment for generations.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority's report on the 2007 raids found officers unlawfully detained people at five properties, set up illegal road blocks at Ruatoki and Taneatua and intimidated innocent residents, including children.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall has accepted the findings and apologised, but Mr Flavell says any apology has been limited.

He told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon on Thursday the raids will remain a blight on the nation's history unless police acknowledge they got it wrong and engage with the affected communities.

"It's not just about this generation, it's actually going to be about the next generation as well, until somebody just takes a more humble approach to move and talk with those people."

Mr Flavell says people still sing and haka about police actions that took place more than a century ago, and they will be doing the same over the Urewera raids for some years to come.

He says there is a long way to go in rebuilding the relationship between police and Tuhoe.

Police say the commissioner is absolutely committed to building a relationship with the community.

Mr Marshall on Wednesday apologised to any innocent people caught up in the raids, but defended the use of roadblocks, saying police did have concerns about a group of people in the area when they set up them up.

He said that, if asked, he will go to Ruatoki at whatever time suits people to talk with them, and has already spoken to several senior Tuhoe leaders.

Former police minister regrets how raids carried out

The Minister of Police at the time of the Urewera raids says she did not know they would be carried out in the manner they were.

Labour's Annette King says the police briefed her as Police Minister, the then Prime Minister Helen Clark and other senior ministers in the days before the raids took place.

But she says they were told only that the raids would take place, not how they would happen.

Mrs King says she's sorry illegal actions were taken against the Tuhoe people, especially children.