Police do Tuhoe, NZ overdue favour

By Mark Dawson

1 comment
Mark Dawson, Editor of Wanganui Chronicle
Mark Dawson, Editor of Wanganui Chronicle

Former Police Commissioner Howard Broad said it would happen one day ... shame he didn't have the cojones to do it himself.

But at the weekend, the New Zealand Police apologised to Tuhoe and the people of Ruatoki for their terrorising anti-terror raid of October 2007.

It has taken them almost seven increasingly embarrassing years to say "sorry", but new commissioner Mike Bush was the man to stand up and do the right thing, sharing a cup of tea with Tame Iti and visiting affected families.

Back in 2007, when police launched Operation 8, things were all so different ...

Terrorist training camps, political assassination and Molotov cocktails were the order of the day as the heavily armed offenders squad sealed off the eastern Bay of Plenty community of Ruatoki and began ordering people out of their homes and searching school buses.

Except that they had got hold of the wrong end of the stick big time.

There was no Maori revolutionary conspiracy, no organised criminal group - as anyone who knew that most benign of pantomime villains Mr Iti could have told them.

After years of trying to stitch together an increasingly implausible prosecution - not to mention police use of illegal surveillance and acting "unlawfully, unjustifiably and unreasonably" - the Crown settled on a couple of firearms charges.

Broad, on whose watch the raids took place, implied they had got it badly wrong when he left office and suggested an apology might come one day.

His successor Peter Marshall pressed on regardless and so it has been left to Bush to front up - and good on him.

He has not just done the Tuhoe iwi a service; he's done New Zealand a service.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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