Police to make apology for Tuhoe raid bungles

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 17/07/2014

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Police Commissioner Mike Bush will visit the homes of eight Tuhoe families to personally apologise for mistakes police made during the Urewera raids - almost seven years after they occurred.

His visit, due before the end of the month, is expected to take two days.

The apology is timed to ensure it does not overshadow the Crown apology next month for historic grievances which forms part of the iwi's Treaty of Waitangi settlement. That will be followed by a public apology from police about a week later.

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.

Tuhoe chief Treaty negotiator Tamati Kruger has acted on behalf of eight of the affected families - with others seeking their own form of redress - to arrange the apology.

"It may be that each family will want to spend between 30 minutes to an hour with him and I think there's going to be an exchange of view. I think the families involved would want to impress upon the commissioner the hurt and what they have to bear for the rest of their lives," he said.

Kruger said he expected "a bit of honest, plain talking" at the meetings which would ensure there was less tension at the public apology, though it was still possible they would see some form of protest from those seeking their own redress.

Some, such as the family of the late Tuhoe Lambert, whose Auckland house was raided, have filed a civil claim seeking $100,000 each for what they say was an unreasonable search and seizure.

Kruger said the timing was aimed at ensuring the Crown apology - expected on August 22 to mark Tuhoe's $170m Treaty settlement - was not overshadowed by the most recent grievance.

A spokeswoman for the police commissioner's office confirmed arrangements for the apology were being finalised. Police have apologised for the mistakes they made but said the raid, which involved 300 officers and was the result of a year-long surveillance operation, was justified.

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell welcomed news of the apology, which he said needed to encompass all those affected. The whole saga has gone on for far too long when it could've been dealt with far earlier. Despite the apology, the raids would never be forgotten by the people of Tuhoe, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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