Police commissioner apologises for raids
Police Commissioner Mike Bush has visited some of the homes of those affected by the Urewera raids, including that of veteran activist Tame Iti.
Iti, who served 30 months on firearms offences following the 2007 raids, posted a picture on his Twitter profile today of him and Bush during the visit.
"Mike Bush listened to our hurt, looked us in the eye and apologised for how the police handled raids. We feel better," Iti said.
Fairfax revealed earlier this month that Bush would visit eight families over two days to apologise for mistakes made by police during the controversial raids.
The police were strongly criticised for the 2007 raids in the Urewera mountain range near Ruatoki which resulted in the arrest of 17 people for allegedly participating in military-style training camps.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority found the raid justified but police acted "unlawfully, unjustifiably and unreasonably" by setting up roadblocks and in detaining the occupants at five of the 41 properties.
Iti told Fairfax that about 25 members of his whanau including his two sons, parents and grandchildren were there and they all had a chance to speak over about two hours, saying "they said what they needed to say".
"I think it was good... we are happy to let it go," he said.
It said it was "about time" the meeting was held, saying they needed to express their feelings about the impact of the raids and ensure they were listened to.
"It allowed people to have their tears" which they had "held for the last seven years," he said.
He said it was "not wise or healthy" to hang onto those feelings of resentment and anger.
"We had to put it somewhere."
Iti said the highlight was his mokopuna heading down the driveway to meet Bush and present him and his colleagues with a leaf "from the Tree of Tane, Tane who was the guardian of peace".
"We had to send the children there with the leaf of Tane because they are the future because that's a new page thats the new generation."
He said it was a symbolic moment.
"We have to make a difference because they are the future so that had to be the symbol that this is how we do things."
Iti said he felt the apology was genuine and Bush had listened to their concerns.
"I feel better for it, I think my family feel okay for it."
He said his challenge to police was not to make the same mistakes in the future, saying there were other ways they could have dealt with such a situation, including coming to see him first.
Bush had one more family to see before a public apology in two weeks, he said.
Police Minister said the apology for Operation 8 was "appropriate".
"The IPCA found that the Police decision to take action in 2007 was justified - but some aspects were unlawful.
"The Police apologised when the IPCA report was released, and I think it is significant that the Commissioner has met with the families concerned to make that apology in person."