16 Sep 2015

Tuhoe woman complains about police treatment

6:47 pm on 16 September 2015

A Whakatane woman has complained to the Independent Police Conduct Authority, claiming she and her son were poorly treated at a police stop.

Raupiki Rogers was pulled over last Friday, directly behind the car carrying 10-year-old Amy Teepu, who police accidentally peppersprayed.

Ms Rogers said she tried to help Amy, who was hysterical, but claims she was told to leave and that the police made threats towards her and her son.

She is providing a witness account for Amy's father, Jack Kira, who is facing four charges.

He pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest, failing to provide details and two counts of aggravated assault against police officers when he appeared in the Whakatane District Court today.

Ms Rogers recorded some of the pepperspray incident but feared she and her son could be targets of the police.

She said she would never forget the scene from that day.

"I went around the truck because I knew where the screaming was coming from. So I went up the driveway," she said.

"There was a cop there with a pot. He had thrown water on to the girl. Very, very bad. She was just hysterical. Her face was red. She couldn't even see, she was running around like...it was ugly."

Police have apologised for pepper spraying Amy.

Complaint about treatment

Ms Rogers said her complaint was not over what she witnessed but over what happened to her.

She was travelling with her adult son, who police said was not wearing a seatbelt.

"At the end of the day it was the way we were treated. My son was wearing his seatbelt but they weren't willing to hear us. They just kept saying 'be quiet or we'll lock you up' and I was worried for my son."

The pepper spraying and arrest erupted in front of them while police were processing her licence.

Once she was free to leave she went to the local station to lay a complaint but, rather than have her details taken, the receptionist fetched the officer involved, who told Ms Rogers and her son to leave or he would lock them up, she said.

"He just said 'what are you fellas doing here'. I said 'you shouldn't be here cause we're complaining about you' and he just said 'get out you two or I'll lock you both up'."

Leader of the Maori Party, Te Ururoa Flavell.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Tuhoe link

Neither the Rogers nor Teepu families know each other but they are both originally from Ruatoki and they are Tuhoe.

Waiariki MP and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said he was looking into Ms Rogers' complaint.

"Probably need to be in touch with police and get to the bottom of issue. They don't bode well and certainly not in the spirit of the agreement which was made between Tuhoe and the police, and there'll be some concern around that but best to get some information to see where things go," Mr Flavell said.

Last year, Police Commissioner Mike Bush apologised to Tuhoe iwi for a terror raid on the town of Ruatoki in 2007.

Commissioner Bush said the relationship between Tuhoe people and the Police had been significantly damaged the raid and relationship building was needed.

Mr Flavell said there had been some attempts at rebuilding the relationship.

"I know there has been a couple of visits by the police into the valley and some trips for tamariki to Parliament. Other that that I think they've attempted to keep a better line and keep communication links but I think we need to get to the bottom of what you're telling me about," he said.

Police today confirmed Ms Rogers had made a complaint but refused to comment further.