Northland police have apologised to a Kaitaia whānau they treated poorly when a member of their family died in a road tragedy more than two years ago.
Marino William Leef, 46, died in March 2019 when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a car on State Highway 12 in Omanaia, in the Hokianga.
In the wake of his death, his grief-stricken whānau felt let down by Northland police, who provided them with confusing information about the location of Leef's body and the circumstances around the crash.
Police also failed to inform them an investigation into the crash was being carried out – it eventually resulted in charges being laid against the other motorist involved.
Northland district commander Superintendent Tony Hill apologised for the ill-treatment of Leef's grieving whānau by police.
"We express our condolences to the whānau for their loss and for our shortcomings, which we acknowledge caused them further distress at a difficult time," he said. "The level of service provided was below the high standards that we expect from our staff and that our community deserve, particularly when a whānau is grieving a loved one."
A relative of Leef lodged a formal complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) outlining their grievances with Northland police.
"We acknowledge that communication provided to the whānau by police following Mr Leef's death and the subsequent investigation could have been better," Hill said.
The IPCA oversaw a police investigation into the complaint – the outcome of which prompted the public apology, along with improvements.
Hill said talks with Leef's whānau highlighted how Northland police needed to ensure it improved the cultural awareness of its staff.
"We aim to use this case as a learning opportunity to work together with Mr Leef's whānau to improve our staff's cultural awareness and our interactions with the community."
Hill said the officers who dealt with Leef's whānau had been spoken with.
The IPCA deemed the police's in-depth review of the matter – which included the conversations between police and Leef's whānau – as "open and respectful" as well as "appropriate".
"Police have met with the whānau to discuss their concerns and acknowledge the mistakes made and are working collaboratively to make amends and ensure these mistakes are not repeated," a statement by the IPCA read.
The Leef whānau said they did not wish to comment, at this stage.