Police Commissioner Peter Marshall has apologised for mistakes made during the Urewera raids but says those arrested and convicted should also consider saying sorry for the stress it caused to the community.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority's report released today found in some areas police acted "unlawfully, unjustifiably and unreasonably".
Mr Marshall said he apologised for mistakes but not for the investigation, which focused on alleged military-style training camps in the remote Urewera Forest in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
The 2007 raids resulted in 18 people being arrested, four of which were left facing charges.
IPCA chairman Sir David Carruthers said the police operation was justified but officers acted "unlawfully, unjustifiably and unreasonably" in establishing road blocks and detaining and searching some people during the raids.
"We don't shy away from the investigation, we absolutely think the right thing was done in terms of the investigation," Mr Marshall said.
"We made mistakes, we went there in good faith and we got in wrong in a few areas in Ruatoki.
"It shouldn't have happened, it did happen and we apologised."
Sir David's report said the detention of the occupants at five properties of the 41 properties raided was "unlawful and unreasonable".
Police were also criticised for the unnecessary stopping and searching of vehicles and taking 66 photos of drivers and passengers, including children. It left some people feeling "degraded and intimidated".
Activist Tame Iti, who was one of the four convicted after the raids, has signalled he may consider legal action against police.
Mr Marshall said Mr Iti should explain to New Zealanders why he and his colleagues "ran around in the forest with Molotov cocktails and semi-automatic weapons and threatened to kill people".
"He certainly brought us to the Ureweras," Mr Marshall said. "If it hadn't been for Tame Iti and his band of colleagues ... we would not have gone there."
Mr Iti said he had never contemplated apologising.
Prime Minister John Key said the Government was taking advice on whether it needed to apologise to the Tuhoe people.
He said he doubted those detained illegally would receive any compensation.
Police have made "many" changes to policies and practices since the raids and continued to rebuild trust with the Ruatoki community, Mr Marshall said.
No police officers were disciplined as a result of mistakes made, he said.