James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Apology over Urewera raids

The photo posted by Tame Iti. Photo via Twitter
The photo posted by Tame Iti. Photo via Twitter

The police commissioner has personally apologised to six families affected by the 2007 Urewera police raids and confirmed today that a settlement had been reached with Tuhoe iwi over the operation.

Mike Bush made the trip to Ruatoki in the Bay of Plenty to meet with six families, including Tame Iti and his whanau.

He is expected to also address the wider community of Taneatua and Ruatoki.

In a statement, Mr Bush said: "I have apologised to those whanau who experienced unnecessary stress during that time and felt a loss of credibility and mana. It was important to me that I personally deliver this apology, in private, to redress the hurt felt in Tuhoe."

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The raids, which took place in the Urewera mountain range near Ruatoki and labelled "Operation 8", resulted in the arrest of 17 people for allegedly participating in military-style training camps.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority found the raid was justified but police acted unlawfully detaining occupants at five properties.

"What resulted was a sense of tino mamae for tamariki, whanau, the wider community and Iwi Maori, with a number of well established relationships damaged," Mr Bush said.

"The visits are to acknowledge these whanau, the fear that they experienced, the situations they were placed in and the damage that was caused. It's really important to me to say sorry to those children who were present so they know what happened to them was wrong.

"I would like to thank Tuhoe for being open and willing to work reciprocally with Police in order to reach this point.

"I also thank the work of previous Commissioners and the support provided by Iwi leaders around the motu during this process which has been invaluable.

"We look to continue our work at a national and local level to build greater relationships between Police with Tuhoe as well as other Iwi around the country," he said.

The statement said that "police can also confirm that a settlement has now been reached with Tuhoe Iwi in relation to Operation 8" but said the terms of the settlement were confidential between the parties.

Veteran activist Iti, who served 30 months on firearms offences following the raids, posted two pictures on Twitter of himself with Mr Bush during the visit -- one of the pair holding mugs.

He wrote: "Mike Bush listened to our hurt, looked us in the eye and apologised for how the police handled raids. We feel better."

Yesterday, he said: "It's been a big week for Tuhoe. Tomorrow the police commissioner comes to my house to apologise to my whanau. Pretty big week alright."

A statement from the police commissioners office received by the Herald on Friday said he would be visiting affected families before the end of the month.

It said police wouldn't be commenting prior to the conclusion of those meetings.


- NZ Herald

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