Police have said sorry for the raids on the Tuhoe people in 2007 but there will be no ministerial apology for what happened.
Yesterday, Police Commissioner Mike Bush apologised for police actions while raiding the Taneatua and Ruatoki communities nearly seven years ago.
Speaking at Te Rewarewa marae in Ruatoki, Mr Bush said the operation, during which armed police detained a number of people in the small Eastern Bay of Plenty communities on October 15, 2007, and stopped elderly people and children at roadblocks, was necessary. But the way it was carried out caused a loss of mana for the iwi.
"There were instances during Operation 8 where police failed to meet the expected standards when carrying out roadblocks in Ruatoki and Taneatua. The situations some community members were placed in, the fear that was experienced and the harm that was caused was unacceptable."
During the raids, police stormed properties in the eastern Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington.
Behind the Operation 8 campaign was the belief that some Tuhoe had collaborated with terrorist training camps in the Urewera Ranges.
Mr Bush said yesterday was a significant step in rebuilding the relationship with the Tuhoe people, which he described as "significantly damaged".
Asked if previous police commissioners - Howard Broad, who held the top job at the time of the raids, and Peter Marshall, who took the job after him - should have apologised, Mr Bush said "the timing wasn't right".
"I know both previous commissioners were very keen to apologise for the actions of police on that day. The timing wasn't right for them but I know that they feel as I do - responsible for the actions of police on that day."
Mr Broad's absence was a sore point among iwi members, some of whom said he should have been the person delivering the apology.
Police Minister Anne Tolley said she would not be saying sorry but supported the police apology.
"Police make their own independent operational decisions separate from politicians, and I believe this is a significant event."
Tuhoe spokesman Tamati Kruger said the apology was well received and accepted by those present although some of his iwi had declined to take part.
"Everybody has been courageous in confronting this very emotive issue and today we have got to a good place."
The 2007 police operation resulted in 17 arrests nationwide for firearms offences.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority found the Tuhoe raid was justified but police acted unlawfully detaining occupants at five properties.
The Human Rights Commission received 31 complaints about police actions in the raids, and found innocent people had had their human rights contravened when they were illegally searched and detained.
How the case unfolded
October 15, 2007: Armed police storm properties around the country after the discovery of an alleged paramilitary training camp in the Urewera Ranges. 17 people arrested.
September 2011: The Crown drops charges for 13 of the 17 defendants after the Supreme Court rules some of the evidence inadmissible.
May 2012: Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara get concurrent terms of two and a half years in prison.
June 2012: Urs Signer and Emily Bailey given nine months' home detention.
May 2013: Independent Police Conduct Authority heavily criticises police for the raid.
July 2014: Police Commissioner Mike Bush apologises to six Tuhoe families.
Yesterday: Mr Bush makes a landmark apology to Tuhoe people in Ruatoki.