17 Sep 2015

'Utter chaos' at scene of pepper spraying

9:57 am on 17 September 2015

A Tuhoe woman who was present when a 10-year-old girl was accidentally pepper-sprayed by police last week says nothing has changed since the iwi received an apology for the 2007 Tuhoe raids.

Tiwaiwai Teepu's 10-year-old daughter was accidentally pepper-sprayed by police.

Tiwaiwai Teepu's 10-year-old daughter was accidentally pepper-sprayed by police. Photo: Facebook

Last year, Police apologised for setting up unlawful road blocks in Tuhoe and searching and detaining people during the 2007 operation.

Raupiki Rogers was pulled over last Friday in Whakatane directly behind the car in which the girl was pepper-sprayed.

Police have apologised after the girl was caught in a cross-fire of pepper spray when her father allegedly attempted to drive off from a police stop.

Ms Rogers said it was "utter chaos" after the incident and the girl was deeply distressed. She said she had filmed some of the incident and given the footage to the father's legal team.

Ms Rogers has laid her own complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority about the way she and her son were spoken to at the scene, after an officer accused her son of not wearing a seatbelt and threatened to lock her up.

She said that when she went to the station to complain, the same officer told them to go away and repeated the threat. Ms Rogers said this sort of thing happened all the time to local Maori.

"It's just that a lot of Maori people at the end of the day just don't know what to do. They're just scared straight away, so they decide for their family's safety, do they just let it go. And they don't know where to go for help."

Ruatoki Tribal Executive Committee chairman Patrick McGarvey has been working with the police since the apology and said the question of racism had to be asked.

"We haven't got there yet. We have raised these issues leading up to the police apology, but this is another opportunity to raise them again."

Police said they were aware of the complaint to the IPCA and were not commenting further.