15 Apr 2021

Minister questioned over police photographing Māori

9:37 am on 15 April 2021

The Māori Party is demanding the police minister stop racism within the force, after the police watchdog found a wāhine Māori had her photo unlawfully taken.

No caption

Minister of Police Poto Williams. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The Independent Police Conduct Authority investigated the complaint from the woman, who was stopped at an alcohol checkpoint in the middle of the day near a 'fight night' event in the Northland.

Officers were trying to gather information on gang members but the complainant was not a gang member.

She was pulled aside for 'further checks', including having her photo taken, after she had already had been breath-tested, and her ID, warrant of fitness and registration check.

The IPCA found the alcohol checkpoint itself was justified but using it to gather intelligence was unlawful.

"Ms Z rightly felt that she was not free to leave, and the limitation on her freedom of movement was no longer transitory ... the direction that Ms Z pulled over to the side of the road amounted to detention that was not based on any legislative power to arrest or detain.

"It was accordingly arbitrary and unlawful."

No caption

Rawiri Waititi. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said it was further evidence of bias in the police.

"He mahi kaikiri tēnā. (This is racist behaviour).

"Kei te mōhio tātou, kei te tango ngā whakaahua rātou o tātou rangatahi, ā kei te tango whakaahua anō hoki o tātou wāhine Māori, tāne Māori rānei. (We all know they are taking photos of young Māori, as well as our Māori women and Māori men)."

"Nō reira, mā te Minita i whakatikahia i te rā. (It's up to the minister to fix)."

During question time, Waititi asked Minister of Police Poto Williams what she was doing to stop racial profiling of Māori in the New Zealand Police force.

"While it's distressing to know that there are instances where the photographing of people is not happening according to what I would expect and what police know to be within the law, what I am confident about is that police are addressing areas of bias within the police, looking at processes and persons of interest in that regard," Williams said.

The IPCA did not find evidence there was racial profiling, saying that police had also undertaken very similar operations where the occupants of vehicles that were targeted were not Māori.

It said they were targeted because they were believed to be possible gang members or associates, not because they were Māori.


  • Northland police unlawfully used checkpoints to gather information for years
  • Police photographing Māori woman at checkpoint 'arbitrary, unlawful' - IPCA
  • Police using app to photograph innocent youth: 'It's so wrong'
  • Police launch investigation into 'unconscious bias' against Māori
  • Police Commissioner Andrew Coster under fire for column on data gathering