There was no legal assessment of terrorism carried out before the 2007 Operation 8 raids and only one formal briefing to the top secret committee charged with guarding New Zealand's safety.

New details have emerged of the steps taken by police ahead of the raids, which ultimately resulted in no terrorism charges being laid and only four of those arrested convicted on firearm charges.

It's a contrast with the high-profile raids in which the township of Ruatoki was isolated through armed roadblocks amid claims of napalm and raids by the anti-terrorist Special Tactics Groups.

The raids followed more than a year of electronic surveillance based on warrants obtained by police citing the Terrorism Suppression Act.


A 2007 briefing paper released under the Official Information Act showed there was only one formal, written briefing provided to the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination.

Police has since confirmed that there was another verbal briefing a week earlier.

The briefing to ODESC saw then-Police Commissioner Howard Broad explaining "prudent action in keeping with the interests of public safety".

"Action to follow, including decisions to charge and prosecute, will be based on normal standards of evidentiary sufficiency and in keeping with good police practice."

Broad told ODESC prosecutions under the Terrorism Suppression Act required the consent of the Attorney General, which was delegated to the Solicitor-General, David Collins - now a High Court judge.

"The Commissioner is planning to gather and assess all available evidence before deciding whether to seek the Solicitor-General's consent," ODESC was told.

The ODESC group is gathered by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and is aimed at providing a gathering of public servants who have a focus on protecting national security, including counter-terrorism issues.

While it has undergone considerable reform since the time of the raids, it is unusual that ODESC received a written briefing only on the day of the raids.

At the time of the raids, ODESC met monthly with police, intelligence agencies, border control, Foreign Affairs and the defence force considering threats to New Zealand.

Rangi Kemara, was imprisoned on firearms charges following the Urewera raids. With fellow activist Tame Iti, Kemara is now seeking a perdon.
Rangi Kemara, was imprisoned on firearms charges following the Urewera raids. With fellow activist Tame Iti, Kemara is now seeking a perdon.

It has since changed to take a far broader view of national security threats, recently meeting after a fuel pipeline rupture interrupted supply to Auckland and earlier this year to deal with the myrtle rust outbreak.

The advice that a decision on any terrorism prosecution would wait on evidence appears to contrast with assurances given to then Prime Minister Helen Clark and Police Minister Annette King.

King, interviewed on TVNZ in 2011, was asked if she was told that the investigation and charges which followed were being done under the Terrorism Suppression Act and whether that was appropriate.

She said Clark asked Collins: "Is the action under this act appropriate?"

King said the response was: "Yes, it was appropriate, and so we were assured the actions being taken that day under that act were the appropriate actions, but the truth is, Paul, we did not have knowledge of exactly what information they had, what evidence they'd gathered."

A spokesman for police said ODESC was given an initial verbal briefing on October 4, 2007 and the formal briefing on the day of the raids.

He said legal advice had come from the Auckland Crown Solicitor before the raids took place on October 15, 2007.

The Solicitor General considered but rejected prosecutions under the Terrorism Suppression Act following the raids.

An inquiry by the Independent Police Conduct Authority found Broad made a "reasonable and justified" decision on October 10, 2007 to end the operation.

Those arrested have always denied any connection to terrorism.