Operation 8 answers sought

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 11:41 04/12/2013

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Well-known New Zealanders not associated with paramilitary training in the Te Urewera National Park were monitored by police during Operation 8, Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says.

Flavell, who said the surveillance carried on for some time after the raids, is demanding answers from police.

A surveillance log obtained by Flavell and which he has asked police to verify relates to the 2007 armed raids near the eastern Bay of Plenty town of Ruatoki.

The log, given to him by a member of the public, details who was being surveilled, what they were doing and who was nearby and records information such as internet searches.

It covers a period of three years before Operation 8 and some time after, he said.

"I'm concerned about those who are not necessarily associated with Operation 8 and I'm concerned about some of the individuals that have been named – not concerned about them but about the fact that they've been surveilled on and also some of the organisations," he said.

"We should be quite rightly be concerned ... that individual New Zealanders who are going about their general business were a part of a surveillance operation that was fairly targeted because police knew pretty much who they were after.

"I think there's some real concerns around that for search and surveillance for all New Zealanders."

Flavell did not yet know why those people not associated with the raids were surveilled "and that's the concern".

The people of Tuhoe now knew they had been under observation after the operation was carried out as a result of the raids "debacle". The question was why those who weren't close to the action were being watched, he said.

This included those who were "simply by being at a particular address or associated with a particular person have been brought into the whole field of surveillance".

"That's the concern."

He refused to reveal who was being surveilled.

Flavell said once the log is verified he hoped to be able to reveal more information about it.

He "absolutely" believed it was legitimate and it had been in his possession for some time.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall appeared before the Maori affairs committee at Parliament this morning to discuss the raids.

He said he was not concerned about the document held by Flavell.

"I made the point to Mr Flavell that I would get advice back to him as soon as I received it and digested what was in it. I have no idea what's in the particular document but more than happy to elaborate to him."

He could not yet say whether the document was legitimate.

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"It was about people being recorded going to and from addresses. Well, that's not unusual in the course of investigations so we'll wait and see."

He could not comment on whether the surveillance carried on after the raids.

"There might have been some other issues they needed to keep an eye on. I don't know, but it's not extraordinary for operations to conclude on one day but there to be some subsequent investigation that might need to be inquired into but in this instance I have no idea."

Discussions with Tuhoe were ongoing but had been delayed by Treaty negotiations between local iwi and the Crown.

He had met Tuhoe's nominated representative, Tamati Kruger, several times and would meet with iwi representatives as soon as he was asked.

- Fairfax Media

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