By Hamish Cardwell and Te Aniwa Hurihanganui, of RNZ.
Revelations of police in Masterton illegally photographing young Māori in the region have prompted a nationwide probe to be undertaken by the police watchdog.
The practice came to light after multiple reports by whānau describing their sons walking alone in broad daylight, when officers approach and insist on taking their picture.
There had been growing calls for a national investigation including from the Children's Commissioner, Wairarapa iwi and community lawyers.
Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) chair Judge Colin Doherty said the authority would look at whether the practice was widespread.
"We'll be out there having a very good look at, not just what is being sent to us, but any wider ramifications that we think we want to look at.
"If this was widespread practice, then we would want to know all of the details about where it is, how long it's been going, etc."
Judge Doherty says once it has all the information from the police it will make a decision about what form the investigation will take.
He said the IPCA and the police have a memorandum of understanding that allows matters to be referred to the police watchdog despite there being no official complaints.
An example of this is when the reputation of the police is at risk, Judge Doherty says.
Wairarapa police revealed earlier this week that an August review found three photographs, all of young Māori, contravened legislation and had since been destroyed.
Police said the youth matched descriptions of suspects identified in a series of car thefts in the middle of the year.
They said all other photographs of young people at that time were taken lawfully.
However, Wellington police district commander Corrie Parnell was surprised to be told by RNZ of multiple reports describing a pattern of police photographing tamariki in the Wairarapa region going back at least two years.
YouthLaw Aotearoa has offered to help any young people make a complaint to the IPCA if they believed they had been illegally photographed.