COMMENT:

On July 26, I wrote an opinion piece in this newspaper that Superintendent Wally Haumaha, the newly appointed Deputy Police Commissioner, be given a "fair go."

I made the point then, and reiterate it now, that under no circumstances should a justice system or an appointments process to senior jobs in the public service be watched over by victims who have an axe to grind.

Of course victims must have a voice, but to allow them to be the new employment think-tanks on whether someone passes muster — in their particular view — needs to be challenged and questioned.

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Movements for change can be like a pendulum. Pendulums swing hard and sometimes for the right reason they help us shape our sense of ourselves and of where we draw the line between what is right and wrong conduct.

Sometimes those pendulums carry too much weight and can swing too far. This is exactly what happened with Haumaha.

A number of comments were attributed to him and there is no firm evidence he made a statement along the lines: "Us police, we have to stick together". When attributed to Haumaha, it alleged a cover-up because all cops stick together to look after their own at the expense of justice.

The recently released inquiry into the appointment of Haumaha to the role of Deputy Police Commissioner has cleared that up once and for all.

When you shake a tree, and shake it as hard as the Haumaha vigilante group has, you would expect that over a 32-year history in the New Zealand Police Force, a 40-year period as a father, grandfather, brother, cousin, a footballer and a community leader, that any untoward conduct by him would have been brought forward.

What we have is three women who indicated that, while working at Police National Headquarters on a joint justice project, they considered him to be aggressive and a bully.

Formal complaints to the police by two of the three women are being reviewed, rightly, by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

I'm just very happy for Haumaha that the "Hate Haumaha" campaign is at an end.

In the cool, clinical, sanitised conduct of a very capable QC, Mary Scholtens, nothing untoward has been proven.

I am sure the Minister of Police Stuart Nash now deeply regrets being forced into stating that the comments expressed by Haumaha in regards to the Austin Inquiry were "deeply disappointing."

Now Nash is seized of the facts, he might care to apologise to Haumaha.

The way in which Haumaha has been treated raises another case in which an unsubstantiated allegation, made on social media, set up a firestorm against a person known as Awanui Black.

On July 7, 2018, the Herald reported that two years after his death, his ex-wife made an allegation that he was a paedophile.

I knew Awanui when his name was Jason Black. We lived in the same neighbourhood in Avondale. He found disciplines and standards by being mentored at West Auckland's Hoani Waititi Marae under the tutelage of Dr Sir Pita Sharples.

He found a sense of himself through his Māoritanga, where he learned to be disciplined and he learned to have an attitude to lift himself out of the difficulties in which he was brought up.

Armed with all of this new-found knowledge, he transferred out of West Auckland back to his own tribal area in Tauranga.

It was here where he then started to lead out the revitalisation of Māori language and arts, and Māori performing arts in the Tauranga area. By this time he was known as Awanui Black.

Once the allegations of paedophilia were made, all hell broke loose because many believe — with or without evidence or substance — the allegation must be true. A massive mural was defaced by the person that painted it, since the allegation was made.

Paedophilia is such a revolting and abhorrent thing to do to any other human being, in that it provides a constant life-time sentence to the victim in destroying the innocence of the young for individual self-gratification.

We now know, after every tree in the country was shaken, that there are no witnesses and no one has come forward to affirm the allegation of Awanui Black's ex-wife.

What both of these cases point out is that in this age of social media, of trolls, of fake identities and fake emails, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, just because an allegation is made, does not make it true.

Both individuals written about in this column deserved a fair hearing. But both, for different reasons, were judged guilty without a fair trial and without a fair investigation.

I hope we learn much from this vilification because guess what ... you could be next.