Monthly Archives: August 2015

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 4

Was there a Plan B for an armed uprising or revolution in the Urewera?

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

“One of their ways of furthering the interests of themselves and the Tuhoe people was at the point of a gun, and that is what they were planning, preparing and training for”.

Thus stated the Crown in its prosecution of Taame Iti and his co-accused. That was the whole thrust of its eighteen month “Intelligence” operation in 2006 and 2007, the raison d’être for the paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007, and for its four and a half year pursuit of the accused through the courts.

Plan A was said to be the peaceful Ngai Tuhoe negotiations towards a settlement of their grievances. Plan B was alleged by the Police to be an armed revolution or uprising or similar armed action if Plan A failed. Was it really? In any case the Police themselves did launch their version of a Plan B; the armed paramilitary operation against Ruatoki and Ngai Tuhoe, which was such an egregious disaster of boneheaded proportions that it did indeed help Tuhoe along the way to finally gaining a settlement agreement and a formal apology for the conduct of the Crown towards Ngai Tuhoe. It was another example of that conduct in a long list of transgressions against natural justice beginning in 1865.

In the interests of goodwill and in their new found respect for each other both the Crown and Ngai Tuhoe will distance themselves from that assertion. But I sincerely doubt that Tuhoe would have gained as much as they have as soon as they have without the Police’s accidental intervention on their behalf. Not forgetting of course that Prime Minister Helen Clark authorised that boneheaded accidental intervention.

Not even the alleged revolutionary mastermind Taame Iti could have strategized and orchestrated that eventual outcome of his wananga in the Urewera. And anyway I always lean towards the “cock up” interpretation of history rather than conspiracy.

So what was he up to? Did he really plan for armed revolution, or even a mini-revolution? Was there really a Plan B?

Most of the evidence could have been interpreted that way and the Police and prosecution did indeed reach for that interpretation. But they did not analyse and verify their assumptions and conclusions. They remained assumptions and conclusions and assertions of intent. In this series I have been showing firstly how their “Intelligence” process was deeply flawed in relation to standards and practices long established by the Intelligence profession and the New Zealand Intelligence Community, and secondly how their assumptions, conclusions and assertions were deeply flawed, or at least highly questionable.

I have shown in “The Probability Space – Part 1” that Taame and some of his co-accused knew that they were under surveillance and that under those circumstances it was unlikely that they were really planning armed action. In “The Probability Space – Part 2” I showed that the crucial video footage, described by the prosecution as its “most compelling evidence” was not compelling at all and had been wrongly interpreted by the police and prosecution. “The Probability Space – Part 3” then provided essential background on the relationship of Ngai Tuhoe to their firearms, a relationship that should have been known to the Operation 8 “analysts” but wasn’t.

Nevertheless there was a great deal of intercepted audio evidence that even I, in my disbelief, do label “war korero”. And I can see why the Police, without the benefit of professional Intelligence analysts and without the benefit of their most knowledgeable Maori experts, would have reached the conclusions they did. I have read through transcripts of that audio intercept dozens of times and there is no doubt that an awful lot of it was war korero. And an awful lot of it was from the alleged leaders – Taame Iti, Rangi Kemara and the late Tuhoe Lambert.

So I backed up and asked myself who could have successfully planned and organised an armed uprising or revolution, as opposed to just talking about it. Was it Taame Iti as the Police alleged?

That mastermind would among other things:

  • Be Maori, preferably but not necessarily Ngai Tuhoe;
  • Have a strong sense of the injustice of the treatment of Ngai Tuhoe by the Crown for over 100 years;
  • And a commitment to righting the wrongs of the colonial period;
  • Have a strong military or similar background;
  • Be strategically and tactically astute;
  • Be administratively and logistically astute;
  • Be expert in personal, physical and communications security;
  • Be capable of establishing information gathering and intelligence operations, including infiltrating the Police, armed forces, government departments and political parties;
  • Have access to funding, weapons and ammunition;
  • Be someone totally off the law enforcement, security and intelligence radar;
  • Have nevertheless strong connections into the activist community;
  • Have strong connections into a pool of trained former military people;
  • And preferably strong connections into the Establishment.
  • Be healthy and strong; physically and mentally.

It would take at least ten years of extraordinarily secret covert action. And even then, having evaded Police, Intelligence and Security detection, the people most likely to stop it in its tracks would be Ngai Tuhoe themselves. For all their activism they’re a very conservative and law abiding lot. So that planning and organising would have to be kept secret from most of Ngai Tuhoe. It would be organised in Auckland and Wellington rather than in the Urewera out in the middle of nowhere.

The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea“. – Mao Zedong.

That was quoted to me by my former Communist Party informant when explaining to me that they always knew that their activity had to centred in Auckland and Wellington; hidden amongst the people not the trees.

I know (and know of) a lot of people in Te Ao Maori and I reached a startling conclusion. I myself am one of the very few people who might even begin to approach that description. And I’m no Maori Che Guevara”. Although the Police did take a very close look at me for some months in 2006. And my favourite headwear is my black pure wool French beret.

But here’s the thing. Taame Iti doesn’t come anywhere near that description. And he’s no Maori Che Guevara either.

Taame and the late Syd Jackson are the two most prominent Maori upon whom the mantle of revolutionary leader has been laid since the 1960s, both of them in public perception at the forefront of the struggle for Maori independence. There have been many others, including many dedicated Maori women, but those two are the ones who have most worn the expectations of wannabe revolutionaries. There have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of those revolutionary wannabes.

A few of them once asked me to train them in guerrilla warfare. I refused of course.

But Syd was not a revolutionary and Taame is not a revolutionary. Activists, radical activists, radical Maori activists, protesters, publicists and spin doctors for the cause, and a hundred other labels; but not revolutionaries.

Che Guevara was a real revolutionary. He abhorred the injustice he witnessed in South America, he talked about revolution, he wrote about revolution, he went to war, and he died young; he was tracked down by the CIA and executed by the Bolivians at the age of 39.

I put it straight to Taame Iti, “You’re no revolutionary; you’re not the Maori Che Guevara Taame”.

He came straight back at me, “Revolutionaries die. I’ve never wanted to end up dead!

My former Communist Party informant who in the 1970s worked with Taame on union issues, predominantly workplace safety issues, and on the many Maori activist campaigns of the time including the 1975 Land March told me of the revolutionary korero of those times. There were many hotheads both in the Party and in the general activist community who agitated for revolution including violent armed revolution. However the leaders including my informant kept a lid on it and defused the revolutionary korero whenever it broke out. They were well aware that revolution would be totally counter productive and would result only in the death or imprisonment of the revolutionaries themselves and in no political gain whatsoever. I’m told that Taame Iti also adhered to that whakaaro.

And so I believe Taame Iti when he says he’s never been a revolutionary. Nothing about Taame has even remotely suggested that he would go that far. Talking the talk is one thing, and he talks the talk; through korero, through protest, demonstration, protest theatre, and through his art. Some of that korero sure puts the wind up the Pakeha, and maybe some Maori too. It’s meant to.

In my experience immersed for years in the “tino rangatiratanga” environment and assailed on all sides by the war korero, the korero of revolution, a hell of a lot of Maori actually believed that korero.

But walking the walk into war and into almost certain death is something else again. It takes more than naïve belief. And at its head is a real revolutionary leader. Te Kooti springs to mind.

From the day I was born until the day he died my godfather called me “Te Kooti”. I’m afraid I never fulfilled the expectation. Except with the pen.

So what was the war korero about? What were Taame and Rangi and Tuhoe and some others going on about?

You can see how I’ve approached this conundrum. Instead of taking it at face value, I’ve backed off, looked at the big picture and looked at the context. Now I’ll go back and try to make some sense of it within that context. That’s how real Intelligence analysts are supposed to work. Wannabe analysts make assumptions and jump to conclusions.

Those assumptions and conclusions were what drove the Police ever onwards and into their armed paramilitary operation. I’ve read my way through all of the affidavits they filed on a monthly basis to obtain search and surveillance warrants. The war korero is the single most used justification for obtaining warrants from the District Court.

Based on my own experience over the decades I would say that many of the people who attended the wananga in the Urewera, whether on a regular or irregular basis, probably did believe that they were part of a revolutionary movement. Some of the intercepted korero clearly shows that. But that naïve belief doesn’t make it so. It never has – not in the forty or so years that I’ve been listening to it. On the other hand some of the intercepts show that some of them didn’t take it all that seriously.

Based on my own experience over the decades I would say that the war korero in the Urewera was meant to motivate and invigorate activism rather than to start a war. That’s how it’s always been. The Pakeha have a name for it – hyperbole, or exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally. Bullshit and bluster is an unkind way of saying it. It winds up the Pakeha though.

Remember all the activist rhetoric from the 1960s and 1970s? These days and post 9/11 that korero would have them thrown into prison. New Zealand society has become a lot less tolerant and a lot more paranoid. But in the 1960s and 1970s that sort of korero, verging on the extreme, did serve to rally the troops to the cause, to turn them out to protest and demonstrate, to get in the face of the Establishment and often in the faces of the Police.

I remember well in the 1990s a protest and demonstration on Lambton Quay outside the Maori Affairs office. Wira Gardiner was CEO at the time. Some idiot had burnt some tires symbolising a “South African Necklace” killing. It was a gross overstatement of their grievance and could have been taken as a serious threat to kill. One of the leaders of the protest, not involved in the necklace incident, asked me to intervene with Wira to get him to speak to a delegation. So I went upstairs, found him more than mildly outraged, and talked him into meeting with her and a small delegation. As a commissioned officer and Vietnam veteran Wira was personally offended and insulted, and rightly so. But he got over it and talked with them. The incident was just incredibly stupid.

That was indeed extreme but sometimes it would take a lot of rhetoric and encouragement to get people out in their hundreds and thousands to take on the Authority, and every now and then it would be taken to extremes. They were different times. We didn’t have terrorism legislation then; ipso facto, we didn’t have terrorism either.

Was there any Plan B?

No, I don’t think there was. Not a coherent, defined, ready-to-roll Plan B. Not even a nearly ready-to-roll Plan B.

We have first of all to remember that Taame was always in close contact with Tamati Kruger, the primary Tuhoe negotiator, and that Taame would have done nothing to jeopardise those negotiations. In fact Taame was not at all an entirely free agent within Ngai Tuhoe and there is ample evidence that he did indeed listen to and heed the wishes of tribal leaders. It is on public record that he was taken to task within Tuhoe after his infamous flag shooting episode and agreed to abide by rules concerning the use of firearms.

Taame Iti told me that he had hoped to come up with something “a lot cleverer” than the alleged Police Plan B if the negotiations with the Crown had fallen over. And after interviewing and talking to a number of the participants in those wananga in the Urewera it’s very clear that none of them knew of any Plan B either.

In fact the distinct impression I get is that none of them, including those closest to Taame, really understood the overall strategic purpose of the wananga or even if there was an overall strategic purpose. Other than of course the ongoing kaupapa to maintain support inside and outside Ngai Tuhoe for their continuing struggle to regain some sort of autonomy for Tuhoe.

In fact when they finally found out about one of Taame’s ideas very late in the piece, to try to gain employment in the private military contract (PMC) industry for some of Tuhoe’s unemployed, almost all of them were taken by surprise. Some of them were actually offended by that turn of events and withdrew to another area during the October 2007 PMC training.

So I think that the series of wananga had a somewhat organic kaupapa. It sort of accommodated some of what the participants wanted to do, and incorporated new things as Taame met new people who had something to contribute, and other new things as Taame came upon new ideas. In that sense they reflected the mind of Taame Iti; the questing creative mind of the artist rather than the totally focused mind of the strategic revolutionary. It is much more accurate to think of the series of “Rama” or wananga in the Urewera as a canvas upon which Taame Iti and others were in the process of creating an ever-changing work of art.

Take a trip to Taame’s art gallery in Taneatua to see what I mean.

Building support for possible protest and demonstration?

Remember that in 2006 and 2007 Helen Clark was still Prime Minister and she had told Ngai Tuhoe she would not negotiate over the return of the Urewera. And that the return of the whenua was the bottom line for Tuhoe.

If those negotiations had been canned because of her intransigence would Taame Iti have mobilised Tuhoe activists and as many supporters as he could to march on Parliament, set up a Tuhoe tent embassy there, protest and demonstrate for as long as it took. His strategy is always to stand on his ladder, look the Crown in the eye, and keep in the Crown’s face until it enters into meaningful conversation. It has worked for Maori for forty years now.

Would all of those who marched on Parliament in 2004 to protest Helen Clark’s seabed and foreshore legislation have been turned out as well. Was he preparing the way for that sort of activism? Was he reaching out to and motivating a new generation. To pass the baton. The old generation was getting rusty.

I haven’t found any evidence to suggest that this sort of Plan B was shared by the wananga participants, or even in the back of Taame’s mind, but it was always a possibility.

Now, I would have suggested to him that if the negoatiations failed he should organise a huge pageantry production; a mock ceremony at which Ngai Tuhoe formally seceeded from New Zealand, complete with a ceremonial guard just like the military guard of honour  for the Governor General at the opening of parliament.

Was he keeping a lid on the rhetoric of a bunch of hotheads?

Remember that in his Communist Party days Taame saw how CP leaders defused the revolutionary rhetoric of the hotheads. Perhaps that was part of the kaupapa of the wananga? To keep some of the hotheads contained.

One of the intriguing things to emerge from my scrutiny of the Police evidence is the obvious fact that the Police really had no idea how many people attended the wananga and who they all were. They had a good idea who was travelling from the main centres such as Auckland and Wellington to the wananga and they spent a huge amount of resources tracking that movement. From their various intercept activity they knew a few more names. But that’s all they had; about 18 suspects.

They obviously suspected a nationwide terrorist plot was being hatched because they mounted a nationwide search and seizure operation to collect up as many computers as they could in the hope that computer evidence would reveal the extent of the terrorist network. They found virtually nothing.

The big gap in the Police information was about who was attending from Ruatoki itself and other Tuhoe towns and settlements; and how many were there. How many from the surrounding district? Did any of them drive through from Waikaremoana undetected? There’s no evidence that the Police even tried to find out about any of that. My investigations have revealed a lot more participants than the Police knew about, mostly local.

It’s a matter of public knowledge (to Maori anyway) that the Tuhoe negotiation strategy was not universally supported within Ngai Tuhoe, and even that some were vehemently opposed to the negotiation strategy. Not a majority but some.  So were there some hotheads advocating more controntational strategies after Helen Clark’s seeming to oppose the Tuhoe claim.

Were some of those gathered up and contained by Taame to help give the negotiators some space? I think that is a distinct probability.

Was there a plan to deliberately provoke the Police into some sort of reaction?

I don’t think so.

We do know however that they knew the Police were listening and I am certain from reading my way through those transcripts that a lot of the war korero was aimed at the eavesdropping Police. There was talk of how many Police they would be up against, of ambushing Police, of killing Police, and a lot of otherwise unflattering korero about the Police. It would be putting it mildly to say they had no love whatsoever for the Police.

And I think they might have been winding the Police up. Too tight by far.

There would be nothing more provocative than to talk about killing Police; nothing more likely to galvanise the Police into precipitate action.

That korero more than any other korero probably tipped the Police into action mode. It was a direct challenge to their own authority. It was a conscious challenge but more viscerally an unconscious threat. A bit like a South African necklace threat. The “compelling” video footage of September and October 2007 that they wrongly interpreted as training to kidnap and take hostages was the last straw. They let loose their own dogs of war.

As it turned out it was most unwise of the trash talkers to provoke them if that’s what happened. Some might say stupid. And I’m sure that I’m never going to get any of them to admit that it was done deliberately.

A perfect storm – the Police themselves provided Ngai Tuhoe with the perfect Plan B.

Then came the massive Police overreaction. The “termination phase” in which Ruatoki was locked down, women and children and others were illegally detained and terrorised, and a few people were arrested. The armed paramilitary operation was shown to be illegal by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and by the Human Rights Commission. The Courts established that the Police had acted illegally in both obtaining warrants and in executing those warrants. The Police ended up paying compensation to the affected whanau and Police Commissioner Bush personally apologised to those whanau.

It was a cock up of the first order.

But there was a silver lining to the big cloud of black-clad cowboys they cast over Ruatoki that day. It tipped the moral balance firmly into Ngai Tuhoe’s favour. It was a contemporary reenactment of the egregious behaviour that Ngai Tuhoe were accusing the Crown of down through their history of engagement. There can be no denying that the NZ Police provided just the impetus Ngai Tuhoe needed to get their claim on track.

Tamati Kruger very carefully kept the two issues entirely separate as he negotiated Tuhoe into getting their whenua back in 2014. But regardless of that it was in the back of everyone’s minds all of the time. It had to be.

No-one could have been strategic enough to orchestrate all that. It was an accidental Plan B and it worked.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

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Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 3

Ngai Tuhoe and their Firearms

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Now I don’t speak for Ngai Tuhoe. They speak for themselves. In this commentary I’m speaking about them.


Part of the disconnect between what was actually happening in the Urewera in 2006 and 2007 and what the Police thought was happening was caused by a huge void in perceptions and understandings between city and country, between Maori and Pakeha, and especially between Ngai Tuhoe and the Police. As I have also frequently pointed out a large part of the disconnect was caused by the incompetence and unprofessionalism of the Police Intelligence process, including a failure to bring to that process expert Maori knowledge.

Indeed the Police involved in Operation 8, from the Commissioner downwards, deliberately excluded their senior Maori officers, the iwi liaison officers, and local cops.

It was especially important that the Intelligence analysis process should have proceeded through a thorough understanding of Ngai Tuhoe and their firearms.

City vs Country

For the most part the Police officers involved in Operation 8 were city based and in the analysis process they mostly did not involve country cops including those who best knew Ngai Tuhoe and Taame Iti. That was obvious from the evidence they presented.

I grew up in the country myself an hour or two south of the Urewera. Firearms were part of our everyday experience. Even as children we went hunting with the men, and as teenagers we went hunting on our own. Deer stalking, pig hunting, duck shooting, rabbit and possum shooting – we did it all. Almost every home out in the countryside in those days had at least one double barrelled shotgun, a .22 rifle and a war surplus .303 rifle. My cousin who as a teenager was a cut above the rest of us had .223 (5.56mm) and .308 (7.62mm) hunting rifles.

None of the firearms or their users were registered. And no-one was at all concerned when we wandered down the road or even into the shop with a rifle slung over the shoulder. Firearms were just part of life; tools just like the knives we all carried all of the time but are now illegal. I can’t remember any crime involving firearms or knives in our district.

Nowadays firearms are viewed only as weapons and are strictly regulated and controlled. It is illegal to wander around with one. It’s a city perspective.

But out in the country they are still tools rather than weapons. Country people still hunt, shoot and fish. Back in my hapu they still get out the shotguns and turn out for opening day of the duck shooting season on May 1st. Farmers still shoot rabbits, hares and possums and use their rifles to put down injured or fatally sick animals.

Now that is all controlled by licencing of firearms users. But I would think that out in the country there are shotguns and rifles that are still not legally owned. I would think that out in the Urewera there would be quite a few. My late brother lived, worked and hunted on the Lake Waikaremoana side of the Urewera and as far as I’m aware everyone over there was licenced but there are some stray firearms around. Nobody is bothered about it.

We country folk are just not freaked or spooked by firearms. City based cops are.

The Ngai Tuhoe Firing Party

At funerals for serving or former servicemen and women we farewell them with rifle volleys fired by a uniformed and well-drilled firing party. It is said to have originated in Europe when fighting stopped to allow the burial of the dead, then started again after the burial. The signal to go back to battle was the firing of three rifle volleys. Nowadays it’s just part of the ritual of the military funeral, and in some places the police funeral. A farewell befitting a warrior.

As far as I know Ngai Tuhoe is the only other group that fires the ritual farewell volley.

The first time you witness the Tuhoe volley it can be quite disconcerting if you are not expecting it. A group of shotgun and rifle toting men will just form up and fire off a ragged but impressive volley of shots, quite unlike the precision of the military firing party, but for exactly the same reason – a farewell to a fallen warrior.

And therein lies the key to understanding the relationship Ngai Tuhoe have with their firearms, a relationship that none of the rest of us have.

We must first understand that the Maori of bygone times, before becoming acquainted with European logic and reason and speech, spoke and acted symbolically and metaphorically. It was a form of communication based as much in movement and gesture as in speech, and in verbal imagery rather than direct speech. Although speech could be direct when appropriate. That’s pretty much the same as the rest of the old world before the Enlightenment.

That’s Ngai Tuhoe. Of all of us they remain the most symbolic and metaphorically inclined. The whole of their historic claim is couched in symbolic and metaphoric terms. That’s how they continue to think.

We all know that Ngai Tuhoe have always considered themselves a people apart, a people dispossessed, a people intent upon regaining their lands and having their mana recognised, and a people still engaged in active resistance to the Crown. A people still symbolically and metaphorically at war. A fallen Ngai Tuhoe is therefore, symbolically and metaphorically, a fallen warrior.

The Tuhoe volley is also an assertion of mana. Part of the rhetoric of the Ngai Tuhoe claim against the Crown has long focused on Te Mana Motuhake O Tuhoe, and the recognition of that mana by the Crown. In his TEDx 2015 Talk, reviewed here, Taame Iti talked at length about mana. New Zealand’s armed forces farewell their dead with the volley and so does Ngai Tuhoe. That is a statement of Tuhoe mana, an expression of mana equal to that of the Crown and its armed forces and fallen warriors. It is a statement that Ngai Tuhoe makes to itself and to the rest of us.

None of this amounts to actual warfare or revolution. But it is a quiet revolution and a symbolic continuation of its war with the Crown.

Here is how Taame Iti described the custom to the court during his flag shooting trial in 2006:

“Iti said in evidence yesterday that firing the gun was in accordance with Tuhoe custom and conveyed the tribe’s strong feelings about Crown confiscation of its land in the 1860s.

“Iti told the court that the Maori Battalion veteran, Moai Tihi, was one of the “high priests” who groomed him in the custom, saying that it had been around since Tuhoe was introduced to guns.

“Iti said under the tutelage of Mr Tihi and others, he had become well known for firing guns in displays of the custom and had done so at the tangi of Sir John Turei, which was attended by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright.

“The wearing of firearms on a marae [is] to invoke and to stir the emotions of people, of the home people,” he told the court. Iti said safety was always observed in such rituals … “

Sir John Turei’s Tangihanga 2003

Sir John Joseph Te Ahikaiata Turei died in January 2003. He was a veteran of the Maori Battalion and in later life became an advisor to Government agencies including NZ Police. As Taame stated above Prime Minister Helen Clark and Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright attended his tangihanga. Taame fired the traditional volley.

The incident was reported two years later but not the whole story.

What is not known is that Helen Clark was seriously challenged by Taame Iti before they were allowed to go onto the marae.

Helen Clark arrived at the marae accompanied by her two bodyguards from the Police diplomatic protection squad. Carrying his shotgun Taame moved out to them and noticed the bulges under the bodyguards’ jackets, indicating that they were armed. He went back onto the marae and spoke to the local police and to the Police iwi liaison officers, telling them that the bodyguards had to leave their weapons behind or Helen Clark had to leave her bodyguards behind. He said that he was the only one who was entitled to bear arms on the marae, not them.

It was of course a gross breach of kawa to try to take firearms onto the marae. And in tikanga terms an invitation to battle. The outcome was that Ngai Tuhoe asserted its mana and the bodyguards were left behind.

In 1998 Helen Clark, then leader of the opposition, was humbled and reduced to tears at Waitangi when Titewhai Harawira prevented her from speaking on the marae. In 2003 she was humbled again, this time as Prime Minister and by Taame Iti. One wonders whether both she and Commissioner Broad might have had this incident in the back of their minds subliminally influencing them when they decided to launch the paramilitary operation against Taame Iti and against Ruatoki on 15th October 2007.

She did clearly overreact in 2004 when she legislated to extinguish any Maori claim to the seabed and foreshore before any claim had actually been tested in the courts. That resulted in the formation of the Maori Party and in the eventual loss of parliamentary seats. It also resulted in much Maori antagonism and distrust towards Helen Clark and towards the Labour Party; the rending of a decades long compact between Maori and the Labour Party.

Helen Clark also made it clear to Ngai Tuhoe negotiators in the period before 2007 that she would not be going any way towards meeting their claim for the return of the Urewera. They were probably not amused.

Shooting the Flag 2005

Taame Iti staged a huge re-enactment to welcome the Waitangi Tribunal to Ngai Tuhoe on 16th January 2005. A minor part of the whole thing was when Taame used a shotgun to shoot a flag on the marae. It was reported that he had shot the NZ flag and that upset many people. However he said that he had just shot the Union Jack in the corner of the flag. I can vouch for that as I was earlier asked if I could find a Union Jack. I couldn’t. The whole thing was widely reported in the media.

After agitation in Parliament Taame was eventually arrested and charged on 3rd February 2005. MP Stephen Franks took most of the credit for the agitation. Minister of Police George Hawkins seemed out of his depth and it is not known if it was actually Helen Clark who instigated the arrest. Nothing ever happened without her knowledge and agreement so she was probably involved.

The local Police commander claimed to have been solely involved in deciding to press charges.

He went to trial in June 2006 and was convicted and fined. He appealed and the conviction was overturned on 4th April 2007.

Operation 8 was launched, so the Police said, in December 2005. However, based on the evidence tabled by the Police, it didn’t really focus on Taame Iti until June 2006, about the same time that he went to trial for shooting the flag. It may have been coincidence.

The Intelligence operation and this court action were running in parallel but the court case does not seem to have been considered in the investigation, or mentioned in evidence.

Te Hue Rangi’s Tangihanga 2007

Te Hue Rangi died early in 2007. He was a leader, kaumatua and learned man of Ngai Tuhoe. He also went to school with Taame Iti. He was one of the leaders of the wananga that the Police discovered in the Urewera in 2006 and 2007 although he was not involved in the bit with the firearms.

In January 2005 after the fiery Tuhoe welcome to the Waitangi Tribunal he was quoted in the Rotorua Daily Post:

“Tuhoe claimant Te Hue Rangi said the aggressiveness was not an act of violence towards tribunal members but a display of anger about grievances of the past.

“It’s pent-up anger that has been there for more than 100 years,” he said. “This was an enactment not an act of violence.

“We wanted the Crown and the tribunal to actually see the results of what has happened. I believe the stories that have been passed down for generations are true and many Tuhoe want [tribunal members] to feel just how our ancestors felt when our lands were taken.

“The written history by historians today does not reflect the truth of what happened during the land wars.”

“Once the land was taken the area was operated on “the scorched earth policy” that denied Maori their connection with the land and basic tools for survival, said Mr Rangi.

“The result of the policy was that our ancestors had no houses to live in, no food to eat and no clothes to wear,” he said. “Our people were slaughtered, not only men but women and children.”

“Tuhoe would never forget the grievances they believe were inflicted on them by the Crown, said Mr Rangi.

“We will ensure generations to come will know the truth. It is remembered in chants, in songs and it’s in these songs that we learn how our ancestors lived before the land was stolen from them,” he said.

The tribe was now looking for the return of their land or compensation for the grievances they claim they experienced at the hands of the Crown.

“We cannot let this event just melt away and not remember. We are a people that still remembers the atrocities that happened. Our ancestors never ceded the land. We will not give up the struggle for the return of our land or money,” he said. 

Te Hue Rangi and most others of his generation were as much Tuhoe activists as any of those arrested by the Police in October 2007.

At Te Hue’s tangihanga that took place while Police had the Urewera under surveillance there was a thirty-strong firing party armed with shotguns and rifles. Some of those rifles were the same ones the Police were convinced were to be used for terrorist activity. It was not however a well-armed and trained war party. Rangi Kemara anticipated that many of them would not have any ammunition for the volleys because it had happened before. So he stopped off at Whakatane and bought a few rounds and a few shells. The resulting volleys I’m told were quite impressive; a warrior’s farewell and a major event.

Police were present but this gathering of the shotguns and rifles and firing of volleys was not reported in the Operation 8 evidence. The Northern Special Intelligence Group from Auckland were so narrowly focused on the monthly wananga that they missed everything else that was happening and didn’t ever get to comprehend the broader context. And they didn’t consult with local police and with Police iwi liaison officers who were well aware of the total context.

On the one hand Auckland based detectives were covertly tracking firearms and their users, and on the other hand local police and Police iwi liaison officers, totally unconcerned, were watching them being fired. Well hello.

There were other tangihanga during the Operation 8 investigation where exactly the same thing was happening.

Ironically the Operation 8 evidence books produced for the trial in 2012 did contain some photos of armed “terrorists” who were by the time of the trial just armed “criminals”. The photos were seized from Taame Iti’s fridge during the lockdown of his house on 15th October 2007. But they were actually photos of the firing party at Te Hue Rangi’s tangihanga. Yep. That one. When other police officers were present and watching. Hello again.

Owhakatoro Marae August 2007

On 2nd August 2007 the then Leader of the Opposition John Key, accompanied by two National Party MPs Tau Henare and Georgina Te Heu Heu, visited Te Urewera. The Police diplomatic protection squad conducted a security assessment and advised that it was safe to visit. That was despite what Police Intelligence thought they knew about terrorists training in the Urewera, and despite what they believed about Taame Iti.  John Key went without Police bodyguards. He was met on Owhakatoro Marae by Taame Iti (without his shotgun).

Owhakatoro Marae is deep in the mountains in the Ruatoki rohe. It is difficult to reach and has no mobile phone coverage. Given the Operation 8 Intelligence analysis at the time, just two months before they launched their counter-terrorist operation, it couldn’t possibly have been considered safe. Could it? Surely a remote location like that could easily have been an ideal safe haven for even more armed terrorists that had not been detected by Operation 8?

Or was it then as it was two months later at the time of the armed paramilitary operation, and as Commissioner Hloward Broad later publiclhy admitted, that they had no evidence that any terrorist activity was immanent.

The Paramilitary Operation 2007

On 14th October 2007 Prime Minister Helen Clark authorised the operation that locked down Ruatoki. Early the next morning Police Commissioner Howard Broad launched it.

Looking Back 2015

It is a matter of public record that Taame is thoroughly immersed in the Ngai Tuhoe firearms custom. Knowing that, and being aware of all of the above, I recently put it to him that in the back of his mind during the 2006 and 2007 wananga when firearms were being used he was actually standing on his ladder.

This refers to the time he stood on a ladder at a hui with the Crown to raise himself to the same level as the main Crown representative, Minister Doug Graham; kanohi ki te kanohi, eye to eye. It was an expression of Ngai Tuhoe mana and an expression of his own mana vis-à-vis the Crown; an expression of equal mana.

So I put it to him that in the back of his mind during the 2006 and 2007 wananga he was still standing on his ladder; meaning that he was symbolically asserting Ngai Tuhoe mana and autonomy; their right to bear arms on Ngai Tuhoe lands.

My question took him by surprise. After his mouth closed again and the sparkle returned to his eyes he nodded his head and said, “Yes!”.

Unconsciously for certain, and probably consciously, he was standing on his ladder. He never really gets off it. And that has nothing to do with his being a shortarse.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 2

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

The video evidence that should have been thrown out by the Supreme Court except for its false interpretation by Police, the prosecution and the Court, and a weak defence.

Continuing an exploration into the probability of what might have been happening in the Urewera in 2006 and 2007.

In the Crown Opening at the trial of the Urewera 4 in February 2012 is the statement, “By far the most compelling material you will see is the video footage of what was going on”. That footage, although unlawfully obtained, was the evidence around which the Police and prosecution case was built, not least because it was visually compelling and much more likely to influence a jury than any of the other verbal and written evidence, and expert witness evidence..

The Supreme Court ruled in September 2011 that the video footage was indeed unlawfully obtained and that it was inadmissable and could not be used against 13 of those charged as a result of the paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007. Despite its illegal provenance it was however permitted by the Supreme Court to be used in evidence against the four who finally went to trial. The Police and prosecution had fought a four-year long battle through the courts to have that footage allowed. That was a clear indication that it was thought to be the key evidence without which convictions might not be obtained.

That was clearly the case when the Crown dropped all charges against everyone except the four who were sent to trial. The Crown clearly believed that without that “compelling material” it would not gain convictions.

In this part of our exploration into the Probability Space, into what was really going on, we explore that video footage itself. We look at whether it really did show what the Police said it was. Because if it did not then the Police and prosecution case was built upon a false interpretation of their “most compelling material”.

We look then at whether or not the military type activity, captured on Police surveillance video and eventually provided to the media and used in evidence, was actually intended to train soldiers for the Ngai Tuhoe Revolution as the Police alleged, or whether it might have been preparation for possible selection to join a team to be employed as private military contractors in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan or Africa. At the trial of the Urewera 4 early in 2012 the defence argued that the latter was the case.

In 2012 one of the defence lawyers provided me with all of the surveillance video and asked me for an expert opinion on what the military type activity might have been. He also provided me with a brief of evidence in which the Police had obtained an expert opinion from a serving lieutenant colonel in the Royal NZ Infantry Regiment. The colonel had about the same level of training and experience as I had. His evidence supported the Police interpretation. Initially I tended to agree with him but after spending something like 100 hours viewing and reviewing all of the footage I changed my mind and reached the conclusion that it could support either or both of the disputed interpretations.

However the final set of video clips captured during the October 2007 wananga, just before the paramilitary operation and arrests on 15th October 2007 made me lean towards the opinion that the training on that day at least was about private military contracting rather than the training to kidnap and take hostages that the Police alleged. It was clear to me that it was probably a demonstration of how to extract a VIP from an ambushed vehicle and to move the VIP to safety.

That became the tenor of the brief of evidence I provided to the defence; that the activity in the months before October 2007 could have been interpreted either way but the October 2007 activity was almost certainly about private military contracting, or body-guarding. I provided evidence in detail explaining how the videos prior to October 2007 could have depicted training in the basic military skills that were essential before training and employment as private military contractors. They were just basic military skills that could have been used either way. I ventured my opinion that the participants in the videos did not appear to be at all competent in those skills.

I also thought that the lieutenant colonel expert witness could possibly have been “primed” by the Police through suggestion and by being shown only some of the video surveillance. I suggested to the defence that they should bear that in mind when they eventually cross examined the lieutenant colonel. At the trial under cross examination he did concede that the activity could have been interpreted either way.

The trainer at the October 2007 training session was eventually identified by the Police and arrested and charged. He was Rau Hunt, a former RNZN petty officer who had actually just returned from a tour in Iraq as a private military contractor. It later transpired that he was indeed planning to build a military contracting team of his own and had attended the October 2007 session to assess the participants for their suitability to be trained to join his team. His arrest and the long drawn out procession of the case through the courts until the charges against him were finally dropped in 2011 put paid to his plans.

The Police totally dismissed his account of his involvement and continued to press charges against him until forced to drop them as a result of a Supreme Court judgement in 2011. For what was supposed to be an Intelligence operation it demonstrated an extraordinary lack of objective analysis and a blindness to the facts in front of them. It was an extreme case of tunnel vision.

Whether or not all of the other video evidence pointed to revolutionary training or to private contractor training, the October 2007 video, combined with other evidence that was available but not sought, was clearly about private military contracting. But that October video was the video surveillance that could also have been interpreted as kidnapping and hostage taking, which was an interpretation crucial to the police case. It was the most graphic and arresting of all the video evidence and was therefore vitally important to the prosecution case.

At the trial the defence tried to put the alternative case. However none of the defence lawyers had sufficient grasp of military matters to do justice to the evidence. Rau Hunt gave evidence but the defence lawyer who led that questioning was especially ignorant and did an abysmal job. The lawyer who had commissioned me to prepare evidence had by then stood down from active participation in the trial and the remaining lawyers decided not to call me as an expert witness.

In their Intelligence operation the Police once again failed to follow up information that was relevant but did not fit into their single scenario. Tunnel vision ruled out seeking any evidence that did not accord with the assumptions and conclusions. My inquiries have subsequently turned up further information to prove the private military contracting interpretation.

The two brothers Henry and Rau Hunt had both been private military contractors. Like his brother, Henry was also ex-military. Police evidence shows that as early as July 2007 the Police had taken an interest in Henry and had conducted a cursory investigation of him. It is probable that they had linked him to Taame Iti through either telephone intercept or via the device in Taame’s home. They didn’t seem to establish the whakapapa link but their whole investigation was whakapapa blind, apart from what they could discover at Births, Deaths & Marriages. The Police did not seem to identify Rau until after the October 2007 wananga.

Taame Iti had actually been talking to Henry and possibly Rau as early as December 2006 about finding job opportunities in their industry for unemployed Tuhoe men. Now that may seem a bit of a stretch of the imagination and I personally would only ever recruit experienced ex-servicemen, but to Taame it must have seemed to be an opportunity and he was always looking for opportunities. Rau was away in Iraq on contract for about six months in the middle of 2007 and returned in time to attend the October 2007 wananga as a trainer.

The Police could have discovered all of that but they weren’t interested.

I spoke to Rau during the trial and afterwards and he agreed that the possibility of finding anyone suitable was remote. At the trial he said that he didn’t find anyone who was suitable. That was the defence line at the trial. However I am reasonably sure that at the time he had actually identified two who might have been suitable; one in an operational role and one in an operational support role. But by the time of the trial he had obviously changed his mind.

The video evidence was crucial to the Police allegations and to the prosecution case. Which is probably why it was released to the media before the trial, supposedly in the “public interest”. At the trial it was shown on a big screen and was a subliminally powerful influence on both judge and jury. The Police and prosecution interpretation of the most graphic of that evidence was demonstrably  false but no amount of verbal evidence, examination and cross-examination could match it for effect. The disputed and most damning October 2007 video evidence did its damage.

The Police and prosecution fought tooth and nail to have that evidence available at trial despite the fact that it had been unlawfully obtained. It was eventually ruled out by the Supreme Court for all of the defendants except for the four who finally faced the charge of participating in a criminal group.

The jury could not decide on a verdict for that more serious charge but the video evidence had already done its damage and was probably a primary influence on the jury in reaching guilty verdicts on the lesser arms charges. The judge definitely considered the evidence for the unproven main charge when passing sentence on the lesser charges.

In the first instance the Police ruled out information they should have considered and followed up during their Intelligence operation. They were not interested in following it up for they were, as I have repeatedly asserted, unprofessional and incompetent Intelligence analysts.

In the second instance the defence failed to expertly challenge the video evidence both before and during the trial. Before the trial they focused entirely on its admissibility and during the trial they failed to challenge its veracity. And in the end it was the video evidence and the video evidence alone that sent the Urewera 4 to trial in 2012.

The critical October 2007 video evidence, falsely interpreted by the Police and prosecution and unsuccessfully challenged by the defence, should never have made it past the Supreme Court in September 2011. The defence didn’t really challenge the false interpretation until the 2012 trial, and even then it was a weak challenge.

Had it been successfully challenged and ruled out in 2011 by the Supreme Court  the charges against the Urewera 4 would in all likelihood not have proceeded to court in February 2012.


Extract from the Brief of Evidence
The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 2A

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Brief of Evidence Extract

 In relation to the video evidence presented by the NZ Police:

Acknowledging the limitations imposed by the lack of visual and audio context for the analysis of all of the video evidence I state:

  1. The January 2007 video evidence cannot be construed to conclusively depict military training or close protection training;
  2. The June 2007 video evidence can in no way be construed to depict military training or close protection training;
  3. On the balance of probabilities the September 2007 video evidence is consistent with close protection training rather than offensive military training; and
  4. On the balance of probabilities the October 2007 video evidence is consistent with close protection training rather than offensive military training.

Analysis of Police Surveillance Video Clips

Sometime in January 2012 counsel for Mr Kemara sent me a prosecution brief of expert evidence by Lieutenant Colonel **********, an expert military witness. He had viewed certain video surveillance evidence and commented on it. I was asked to comment. I advised counsel that in all probability I would substantially agree with the evidence of Lt Col **********.

However on 8th February 2012, Mr Kemara’s counsel sent me a large number of video clips relating to activities in January 2007, June 2007, September 2007 and October 2007. I understand that they were from cameras located in the Urewera as part of the surveillance of wananga in which Mr Kemara, Mr Iti and others participated.

I was asked to view those video clips that related particularly to alleged military activity and to analyse them as a military expert.

However as an intelligence analyst I have chosen to view all of the clips in their entirety in order to try to gain some overall context to the activities in question, for without context no interpretation can be certain.

As a result of that viewing I have changed my original opinion about Lt Col **********’s evidence, and present my own. I may have reached a different view because although we have both considerable military experience I also have expertise as an intelligence manager and analyst. It could also be that Lt Col ********** was shown selected video clips only, and not the whole body of video evidence.

Problems with context

The first problem with context is that in almost all cases much or even most of the activity seems to take place off camera, and the camera or cameras just show what is happening in front of them, or within their focus. What is happening off camera might (or might not) completely or partially alter any perceptions gained or inferences drawn from the on camera clips. Therefore much or most of the context of the activity is not observed and therefore no interpretation or inference can be considered certain.

To explain my point by analogy, if I were to view part of a tree trunk in one camera view, in a wider more inclusive view it might be obvious that it is not a tree trunk but an elephant. The same contextual problem exists with activities as it does with objects.

The second major problem is that there is no audio intercept and there can therefore be no possible indication of what is being said. What is being said by the people in the videos would provide the only completely reliable context. Without audio no interpretation or inference can be considered certain.


As requested by Mr Kemara’s counsel I first viewed the October 2007 video clips. Those clips indicated to me that there could be two or possibly more interpretations of the activities within the focus of the camera. Having realised that I then viewed all of the video clips, including looking at the October 2007 clips again, with the intention of identifying any indication as to which interpretation was the most likely, if that were possible.

Military drills and tactics

Infantry minor tactics are those drills and tactics used by small military sub-units such as infantry sections, infantry platoons and patrols to react when coming under fire. They involve the use of available firepower and the use of manoeuvre or movement to place the group in the best possible position to take further action, usually to either attack, break contact and withdraw, or call upon a larger group or supporting firepower such as artillery or mortars to assist.

Infantry minor tactics always include immediate action drills which soldiers instinctively employ when under fire. In most cases for instance the first immediate action drill is for every soldier to take cover in a position in which he or she is covered from view and from fire, and from which he or she can return fire. That usually means going to ground in the first instance to avoid being shot if possible, then crawling or rolling into suitable cover. After intensive training it is instinctive.

There are immediate action drills to take when fired upon from the front, side or rear, and when ambushed at close or longer range. There are also immediate action drills to take when travelling in vehicles, including what to do when fired upon.

Military patrolling

Patrolling is a specialist skill in which different formations such as single file, double file, arrowhead, box or diamond are employed depending on the terrain (bush, jungle, open country, urban) and on the expected level of threat. Patrolling involves the use of hand signals to pass orders and information, although on the modern battlefield each soldier usually has a personal radio and hand signals are not as important.

In a patrol each soldier is allocated a specific responsibility such as scout, commander, machine gunner, grenadier, or rifleman. Each member of a patrol has a specified arc to observe and search and in this task the weapon he or she carries is always pointed into the arc of responsibility. For instance the scout has to observe and search everything to his or her front and sides, and the “tail end charlie” has to make sure that no-one approaches from behind the patrol.

Professional soldiers will always have both hands on their weapons at all times, carried in a position ready to fire immediately a threat is observed. The weapon will always be pointing in the direction the soldier is looking. Professional soldiers do not carry their rifles by their slings or over their shoulders or in anything other than the ready position.

To the trained eye it is easy to determine the level of professionalism of the patrol.

Worldwide application

These military skills are similar wherever they are employed in the world whether by military, paramilitary, guerrilla or insurgency forces. They are universal skills and techniques.

Private military contractors

In the modern theatre of conflict such as in Iraq or Afghanistan many of the roles traditionally performed by the military have been “outsourced” to civilian contractors, called private military contractors. Among many others these roles include:

  • Logistic support including transport of supplies within the warzone;
  • Catering;
  • Convoy protection;
  • Building or installation security;
  • Security of infrastructure construction projects, such as road building;
  • Training local military and other security forces; and
  • Close protection of VIPs such as diplomats and politicians, and close protection of clients such as journalists and businessmen, sometimes called personal security details. The old term was bodyguard.

Training for private military contractors

The core entry level skills and training necessary for employment by a private military contractor are driving for high risk personnel, shooting, medicine, close quarter battle and rescues, and close protection (or executive protection).

Convoy protection

One of the main roles of private military contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan has been the protection of supply convoys. This manpower and resource intensive activity, traditionally performed by the military, has now been largely privatised.

An enormous quantity of supplies is required to sustain military and civil operations and large private logistics companies transport those supplies from neighbouring countries into the war zones. They contract other companies to provide convoy protection from ambush and from improvised explosive devices. The military do still provide some main supply route protection at critical points.

Contractors in this role are required to be well trained in standard infantry minor tactics, especially those drills and tactics to counter vehicle ambushes, whether by armed insurgents or militia on the ground, or by improvised explosive devices.

Close protection

Close protection or body-guarding is a specialist skill used by military and police forces worldwide, and by specialist non-military and non-police operators. In the military it is usually the special forces and military police who are responsible for close protection.

Close protection operators employ all or most of the minor tactics of the military (most of them are former military or police). These include military patrol formations when appropriate and military immediate action drills when needed.

The main difference is that close protection operators will almost always not engage in offensive action unless they have to. Their primary responsibility is to shield their VIP or client from harm, and to remove the VIP or client from harm as quickly as possible. This usually involves a break contact drill and a withdrawal to a safe place.

In vehicles the drill will often be to remove the VIP or client from the vehicle under attack and to place him or her in a second backup or escape vehicle, or in a safe place out of the line of fire.

Close protection operators in combat zones are usually armed with rifles (often AK47s of Russian or Chinese manufacture because they are widely available in all conflict zones). In other situations and in combat zones where rifles are not appropriate they are armed with hand guns, usually concealed. They may carry smoke grenades to cover a break contact drill and a withdrawal.

Close protection operators are usually proficient in close quarter battle techniques involving kicks, punches, heel strikes, palm strikes, head butts and the whole variety of unarmed combat skills. Close quarter battle techniques also include the use of hand guns and knives at close range. These skills are derived from the military but are widely practiced in society.

Both males and females are employed as close protection operators, with females in demand to protect female clients, particularly in the Middle East.

Analysing the video clips for military context

In my viewing and analysis of the surveillance video clips I have watched for any indication whether the activity on camera might be strictly military or whether it might be close protection or some other activity.

It should be noted that throughout these video clips there is no indication that live ammunition is fired, and every indication that the firing of weapons is simulated.

In all or most of the video clips some but not all of the participants have their faces concealed by balaclavas or scarves. I have visited the Urewera a number of times over the years and observe that the wearing of balaclavas in the Urewera seems to be quite commonplace, almost a bush dweller’s uniform.

Additionally on the modern battlefield where cameras are now commonplace, and where journalists seem to be part of the battlefield population, facial concealment is a widespread practice particularly by military special forces and also by private military contractors operating in the glare of publicity, with the ever present possibility that their images may appear on Facebook and other online sites.

Consequently I draw no inferences or conclusions as to whether the facial concealment by some arose from military training with criminality in mind, or from close protection training with employment in mind.

January 2007 video clips

The January clips show people moving along what looks like a track. At one point in the clips they are moving in single file which could be a military patrol or close protection formation. However there is no clear indication that it is not just a group of people moving along a track in a natural formation for that terrain.

Some of them make gestures that could be interpreted as military patrol hand signals but could also be interpreted just as gestures to indicate to each other something on the track that people might trip over, or some other meaning. Whilst the military do employ hand signals, the military does not have a monopoly on body language and gestures.

For the most part however, throughout the January 2007 clips I observed the people just ambling about, possibly moving to and from some destination.

June 2007 clip

In this clip a few men are seen moving along what is presumably a track.

Initially a small group of men walk past the camera in a non-military fashion, quite casual. The last person in that group turns when he reaches a position near the camera and seems to look around, pointing his rifle in the direction that he is looking.

That could be interpreted as observing and searching an arc of responsibility as on a military patrol, or it could just mean that he turned to look around. Given that no-one else appeared to be observing and searching arcs of responsibility the military patrol interpretation seems unlikely, unless he was a former soldier in which case he would instinctively point his weapon where he was looking, even if he were on a hunting trip.

Shortly after, two other men follow them with a gap between them and the men in the first group. The first of these two stops near the camera, puts his rifle over his shoulder, then moves down the track. The second person follows him.

These two men possibly provide context to the whole clip.

The placing of the rifle over the shoulder could indicate that he was tired. The gap between him and the leading group could indicate that he had fallen behind. He seemed to be rather heavy. When the last man in the leading group turned to look around he could have been checking to see where the following two men were.

That is of course conjecture but no more so than conjecturing that one man in this group was acting as though on patrol. For all we know from that clip they could have been hunters.

September 2007 video clips

This is a series of some 24 clips and it is this series of clips that provides the most contextual challenge to me as an intelligence analyst. It contains a great deal of activity on camera, but it seems obvious that most of the activity on this day in this area was off camera (see previous explanation of context). Therefore the complete context to this activity is missing.

In general people arrive by car, gather in a group, undertake a great deal of activity that could be interpreted as either military or close protection activity, do lots of walking around in a normal manner, and finish standing or sitting in discussion, and finally leave in their cars. At some point near the end of the clips they appear to be joined by a second group from somewhere else.

In relation to the military or close protection activity most of it seems to about breaking contact and withdrawing once engaged. There does not appear to be any offensive military action at all.

During most of the military or close protection activity the people remain standing or crouched and do not go to ground, take cover and return fire as one would expect from a military patrol. That did not happen on camera and one cannot speculate or introduce into evidence what might have happened off camera. They did seem to simulate returning fire but from a standing or crouched position, mostly standing. That tends to indicate that the activity was more likely to be close protection rather than military.

Some of the people on camera were carrying hand guns (or replica hand guns). That also tends to indicate that they were not training as participants in a military patrol, but perhaps as close protection operators.

Although most of the military or close protection (or other) activity was conducted in bush or reasonably close country the participants did not seem to be using the drills and procedures I would associate with close country. They seemed to be practicing drills unrelated to the terrain they were in. Whilst no certain conclusion can be drawn from that it could indicate that it might not have been military patrol activity.

During the afternoon some of the participants appeared to be throwing objects that might have been incendiary devices as alleged. Or they might have been simulated explosive grenades or simulated smoke grenades. The technique for all of them is the same. Without knowing what was in the minds of the participants it cannot be deduced from the video.

What can be said though from the intelligence analyst’s perspective is that the use of the term Molotov Cocktail is an incendiary use of language that a professional analyst would avoid.

October 2007 video clips

As with the September video clips the October clips suffer from a lack of context due to the narrow focus of the camera and the lack of audio. However the October clips do seem to contain more context and are somewhat easier to analyse.

Throughout the day there seems to be an instructor (with the bald head), two or three observers, and several people under instruction.

The instruction for the most part is focused on a vehicle. Initially it seems that the occupants of the vehicle are practicing an immediate action drill to extract themselves from an immobilised vehicle, under simulated covering fire from one or more of the occupants, followed by extraction to a presumably safe place off camera. The drill is practiced a number of times. There is nothing to indicate whether it is a military or close protection drill as they are both the same.

That is followed by a drill in which a person is brought from off camera into the vicinity of the vehicle and is bundled into the vehicle. This could fit a number of scenarios including kidnapping, the taking of a prisoner of war, the rescue of a hostage, or the extraction of a VIP or client to a second or escape vehicle during a close protection drill.

At one point the group practices a patrol formation that seems to be a diamond formation with an unarmed person freely moving in the centre of the formation. This is not consistent with a kidnapping or a prisoner of war scenario. The most likely context for that drill is the protection of a VIP or client in a dangerous environment.

During these drills some participants are armed with hand guns (or replica hand guns). That practice is not consistent with normal military practice and seems to indicate that the drills are close protection drills.

For a limited time some close quarter battle training was given. This is consistent with either military or close protection training.

As a general observation it seems obvious from the carriage of weapons and posture of the participants that they were not well trained at all.

At the end of the training session the participants hongi with the instructor and move off.

Whilst there can be no certain interpretation of the events covered by the October 2007 video surveillance due to the absence of much of the context, on the balance of probabilities the activity was more likely to be close protection training than offensive military training.

An overall analysis

Acknowledging the limitations imposed by the lack of visual and audio context for the analysis of all of the video evidence I state:

  1. The January 2007 video evidence cannot be construed to conclusively depict military training or close protection training;
  2. The June 2007 video evidence can in no way be construed to depict military training or close protection training;
  3. On the balance of probabilities the September 2007 video evidence is consistent with close protection training rather than offensive military training; and
  4. On the balance of probabilities the October 2007 video evidence is consistent with close protection training rather than offensive military training

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 1

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

The Conundrum – they knew they were under surveillance and the Police knew they knew ….

In a previous post, “An exploration into the possibility space”, I ventured a number of different scenarios that could have been inferred from the information the Police collected in their Operation 8 surveillance and intelligence collection activities over the 18 months prior to the paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007. Those scenarios were the Possibility Space. The Police only ever considered one of those scenarios; that is planning and training for terrorism.

In this post I begin to explore into the Probability Space. That exploration is an assessment of the probable intentions behind the activity that the Police were watching in the Urewera, based primarily on the Police’s own evidence.

An exploration into the “Probability Space” can be likened to the hugely influential proposal by the philosopher of science Karl Popper that the job of scientists is to go through the list of all possible theories and to eliminate as many as possible, or, as Popper said, to “falsify” them.

Had Police Intelligence been competent and professional they would have entered into this exploration themselves. They would have set out to verify the assumptions they were making. That would certainly have led them to seek out further information because they definitely did not know what was really going on and jumped directly to the conclusions they did, causing them to prematurely mount an extraordinary paramilitary operation during which they locked down an entire rural community.

I am aware that Intelligence professionals have also observed that the Police did not seek to verify their assumptions and conclusions, violating one of the key principles of Intelligence analysis.

In an earlier post I have written that the profiles the Police built on their suspects were shallow and in the case of Taame Iti based at least partly on a stereotypical caricature of the man. I show below that a deeper profile might have caused them to probe much deeper than they did.

I begin this exploration of mine with the Police assumption that the wananga in the Urewera was masking covert or secret preparations for war or revolution as a Plan B to be implemented if Plan A, the formal negotiations between Ngai Tuhoe and the Crown, was unsuccessful.

The whole of the Police and Prosecution allegation and evidence assumed that what was going on at the wananga in the Urewera (the “Rama”) was covert, and that the participants were secretly planning and training for some unlawful activity. In the first instance it was alleged to be terrorism activity, and after the Solicitor General declined to allow terrorism charges to be laid they alleged that it was criminal group activity. The criminal group charge against four defendants eventually went to court in February 2012.

The problem with that assumption was that at least some of the group, and certainly its leaders, knew that they were under surveillance.

Taame Iti has known that he has been under surveillance since the 1970s at least. As a former member of the Communist Party he was under surveillance by NZSIS, and as a political activist from then until the present he has variously been watched by NZ Police and NZSIS. Everyone knew that. In the 1990s he actually uncovered a person quite close to him who was receiving regular payments from the Police to inform on him. When confronted that person admitted that he was a Police spy. Taame knew from long experience that if he needed to keep something secret he had to be very careful about who he confided in.

During the period of these wananga and the Police intelligence operation he was fighting off charges resulting from his shooting a flag on the marae. In relation to that incident alone he knew he was being watched by the Police.

Another of the main Police suspects was Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara. He had been under Police surveillance since at least 2004 and he and I both knew it. At about the time of the seabed and foreshore hikoi to Parliament in 2004 the National Party website was defaced. The Police seized his computer and tried to prove that Kemara was responsible but found no evidence. Nevertheless he knew that they continued to keep him under surveillance, confirmed by at least one source in the IT industry. He worked for me as my IT manager and we discussed the matter a few times between 2004 and 2007. There were telltale signs of at least occasional surveillance.

He and I also knew from our contacts within the IT industry that from at least 2004 Police were conducting Intelligence operations against a number of Maori organisations and individuals, specifically targeting their computers and electronic communications. This activity was later to be revealed in the media as Operation Leaf but it was wrongly attributed to the NZSIS instead of to the new Police Counter Terrorist Intelligence apparatus that had targeted a wide range of political activism.

Now here’s an important part of the conundrum.

In his early years as a political activist Taame Iti was a member of the Communist Party and was trained by the Communist Party. He went to China, one of five Maori, as part of a Communist Party delegation in 1972. He said to me that he, “Was a spook just like you”. One of his jobs was to build networks of influence and information, to know who could be relied on for support and who not to trust. After being formed the Communist Party took a few decades to sort out its personal and information security but by the time Taame became a member security was a primary concern. Taame was trained to protect information and activity from prying eyes.

An informant from those times told me, “I taught Taame that confidential messages were only to be delivered by word of mouth in person. I once took him with me and we drove all the way to a house in Auckland, went inside for no more than five minutes to deliver the message, and drove all the way back again“.

So if he were planning and training for secret terrorist or criminal acts in the two years prior to the Operation 8 Police paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007 why would he be so lax in his security to allow the Police to so easily conduct the surveillance they did? And why would his security be so lax for such a long period particularly after he received positive confirmation that the Police were watching the wananga in the Urewera?

There was no effective security around those wananga:

  • Their communications were mostly by mobile phone, usually by text messages, and a great deal of the police “intelligence” was in the form of text messages obtained under warrant from the telcos. There was an unsuccessful attempt to get participants to communicate through an encrypted chat room called “AoCafe” but few seemed enthusiastic. The Police unsuccessfully tried to obtain those chat room exchanges. The wananga leaders knew that their communications were insecure and the Police intercepts show that the Police knew they knew, or should have known.
  • There were people travelling from all over the North Island to those monthly wananga. There is no evidence to show that any of them were “vetted” for security, or that any attempt was made to conceal that travel. The police evidence indicated that anyone and everyone (almost) was welcome. That showed clearly that the wananga were not covert at all.
  • A number of activists including peace campaigners, environmentalists, animal rightists, anarchists and the like, Maori and Pakeha, were invited and did attend. All or most of them were widely known to be under surveillance already. Yet they were welcomed.

Now, if I were training a terrorist or criminal group there is absolutely no way that I would have opened up the training to such a broad group of activists, and there is no way I would have had my group converging on the Urewera from all over the North Island on a regular monthly basis. You would have to believe that Taame Iti was completely stupid to be so lax about his security. And Taame is certainly not stupid, despite what the Police may have believed.

In addition to all that Taame was tipped off a number of times that there was media speculation about the wananga and Police interest and surveillance of the wananga:

  • On 21 December 2006 in an exchange of text messages Tuhoe Lambert told him that the Police had raided his place that morning, “Looking for guns bro“.  He wrote, “Da wankas no evidence just search an fuck off“. The Police intercepted that conversation.
  • On 10 January 2007 an intercepted conversation between Jamie Lockett and an unknown person showed that he was well aware that he was under surveillance and that an informant was talking to Police Intelligence about him.
  • On 27 February 2007 Taame was told in a phone call from an “Irene” that the media were asking questions about the wananga. The Police intercepted that call.
  • On 28 February 2007 he had a long telephone conversation with Melanie Reid of the Sunday Star Times. She told him the SST had received an anonymous one line note alleging terrorism activity in the Urewera. The Police intercepted that call.
  • By March or April 2007 the identity of the Auckland informant was known to Lockett and Kemara, and it was known that the informant had from about September or October 2006 been feeding Detective Sergeant Pascoe hearsay information about terrorism training in the Urewera. Taame Iti was told about this informant. The Police became aware that this informant had been uncovered and took him to a safe place.
  • On 9th April 2007 Tuhoe Lambert and Rangi Kemara had a conversation in which they mentioned that the media knew about the wananga. The Police intercepted that conversation.
  • On 3rd June 2007 a contact alerted Taame in several text messages that the activities in the Urewera were the subject of a conversation at Police HQ in Wellington. The Police intercepted those messages.
  • On 23rd June 2007 resistance to interrogation training was conducted at a wananga. The Police audio intercepted much of that training.
  • An interesting transcription of that audio intercept was a long passage during which Taame interrogated Jamie Lockett. He accused Lockett of talking about the wananga, and of informing the Police. The Police interpreted that as “training” but having read the transcription several times, and coming so close after being told about Police interest, I’m not sure that it was “training”. Taame could well have been interrogating him for real.
  • Because on 23rd June 2007 at the same wananga Taame told the group that someone had been talking. The Police intercepted that as well but they interpreted it as a “claim” to know that someone was talking. But they should have known that he DID know because they had the intercepts.
  • On 26th June 2007 the Police became aware from an intercept that Taame had at least part time been monitoring Police radio communications.
  • On 10th September 2007 one of the participants objected to the attendance of someone else on the basis that they had already been tipped off about an intention to put a “nark” into the group. The Police intercepted that comment.
  • On 14th September 2007 the Police intercepted a telephone conversation between Taame Iti and his partner Maria Steen. It was as plain as day from the transcript that they both knew that their telephone was being intercepted.
  • And finally, about a week or so before the paramilitary operation one of the targets who knew his car was bugged “nutted out” in his car and let the eavesdroppers know exactly what he thought of them. He called them some quite salty names. That was never shown in any of the Police evidence.

All of that except the third and last incidents was culled from the Police evidence.

I have also established from my own inquiries that Taame Iti was told about Operation 8 via a very reliable source with access to inside information a few months before the paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007.

So there’s the conundrum about the Police interpretation of the information they had:

  • Taame Iti knew he was always under surveillance;
  • Taame had been trained in personal and information security by the Communist Party;
  • The diversity of people he invited to the wananga made it totally insecure;
  • Their communications were insecure and they knew it;
  • They knew the media and the Police knew about the wananga;
  • They knew they were under surveillance.
  • Yet they continued to train for terrorist or criminal activity despite all of that;
  • And despite that they didn’t make any effort to step up their security;
  • Really?

And the Police thought that it was covert or secret activity. Superficially it might have looked as though it was but professional intelligence analysts would surely have been just a bit sceptical. But there were no professional analysts on the job were there.

It is entirely likely that all of the above just didn’t register with the analysts because they were so intent on building their own narrative that anything that detracted from that narrative was simply ignored. The way the human mind works it is possible that they just didn’t notice it because the mind discards anything and everything that doesn’t fit the pattern it builds to make sense of a deluge of information. Professional analysts know that and are careful not to fall into that cognitive trap.

Perhaps the Police finally realised  by about the end of September that Taame and others knew they were being watched. And they certainly would have known after the “nutting out” episode. Was that why they prematurely launched a massive search, seizure, arrest, detention and lockdown operation? Long before they had conclusive evidence to prove their case for terrorism. They didn’t need to for Commissioner Broad himself admitted that they had no evidence of any immanent plans by the group.

Did they panic? And go off half-cocked?

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Review: Taame Iti – Mana, the power in knowing who you are

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

This is a video talk by Taame Iti about the context of his activism and protest over the decades and about the principle underlying that activism – Mana.

The talk was given at TEDx Auckland 2015. TED Talks are a global series of short talks by mostly interesting people about mostly interesting topics.

This talk is tight, concise, well scripted and expertly delivered. It showcases one of Taame’s strengths, that of the performer and communicator. More importantly though it is a short journey through his development as an activist and protestor and an insight into what has driven that activism for decades now. Taame talked to me a few weeks ago about how his activism had made him unemployable, leading to the social work he has turned to, occasionally paid but mostly unpaid. Even now he still owes Legal Aid and the local garage and needs to sell a few more paintings to become debt free.

The personal price of his activism has been great but his mana is intact, the principle worth the price and the ultimate reward has come, shown at the end of the video, in the Ngai Tuhoe settlement with the Crown and in the Crown apology.

I am reviewing this talk in the context of the Police paramilitary counter-terrorism operation, codenamed Operation 8 on 15th October 2007, and in the context of the long drawn out legal proceedings resulting in his imprisonment on arms charges in 2012. The principle upon which all of his activism has been based, that of mana, is one of the keys to understanding what was really going on in the Urewera in the period of the Police “intelligence” operation from late 2005 until October 2007 leading up to the “termination phase”, the actual paramilitary assault on Ruatoki and about 60 premises around the country. I will continue to explore all of that in a later essay. This short profile by Taame about Taame is deeply relevant.

Taame introduces himself in pepeha (in this case with impressive video background) through his maunga, his awa, his marae and Te Urewera. He explains mana; everyone has it, you have it by knowing who you are, where you came from, where is your whenua. Mana can be tested and challenged but we are all equal; we all stand kanohi ki te kanohi, eye to eye as equals. Authority does not equate to mana for we are all equal regardless.

The difference between authority and mana is something few in authority are able to comprehend.

Taame illustrates this principle by describing what happened at school when he was about 8 years old. He and his classmates had all been brought up speaking Te Reo but their headmaster decreed that they were not to use Te Reo at school. At home in Te Reo Taame learnt important things about the ancestors, about the mountains and rivers and about the land. At school in English he learned “Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle”. The tui also sings in its own language and who would stop the bird from singing.

So he and his classmates tested the headmaster’s mana. And took the punishment; a choice between cleaning up horse manure or writing lines. They ended up smelling like horses.

After school, aged 16, he moved to Christchurch where he discovered a whole new wider world. He met people, Maori and Pakeha, who were testing the mana of those in authority. They were involved in women’s liberation, anti-apartheid, anti-Vietnam War, and in various socialist and workers’ rights movements. He learnt about global issues such as stolen lands, police brutality and military rule. The new people he met were standing against injustice, both locally and globally.

He learnt about protest and protest methods including occupations, and about making the authorities uncomfortable by testing their mana. Behind it was the principle that we all have mana, we are all equal, and no-one can steal your mana.

He learnt that to draw authority into a conversation you have to keep the pressure on no matter how long it takes, and you have to keep reminding authority of the need to engage in proper conversation; kanohi ki te  kanohi.

Taame further illustrates his theme by talking of his famous theatrical presentation to the Crown in 1994 during the “Fiscal Envelope” consultation round of hui. The National government at the time had decreed a $1 billion total limit on Treaty of Waitangi settlements and were trying to sell it to the tribes. At the Ngai Tuhoe consultation the Crown representatives led by Minister Doug Graham were seated on stage looking down on everyone else. Taame borrowed a stepladder, mounted it and spoke to the Crown on the same level, kanohi ki te kanohi. I remember it well. It was classic Taame Iti.

He also gave Doug Graham his nephew’s horse blanket in payment for the land the Crown should return to Ngai Tuhoe. Two years later the blanket had been framed and hung on the wall of the Office of Treaty Settlements but no land had been returned. Taame sent them an invoice to remind the Crown of its debt.

All of that was firstly about the Ngai Tuhoe claim against the Crown but the underlying principle was about mana.

In his talk Taame then went on to chronicle the previous decades of activism and protest based on that same principle:

  • 1972 – the Te Reo petition to Parliament
  • 1975 – the Land March to Parliament
  • 1978 – Bastion Point and Raglan
  • 1981 – Springbok tour
  • 1985 – Anti-nuclear protests

The mana of the people is equal to that of any authority.

And after 170 years of resistance and activism Ngai Tuhoe finally obtained the respect and understanding it sought in the Crown settlement and apology. The two protagonists finally acknowledged each other and each other’s mana, kanohi ki te kanohi.

I have watched hundreds of TED Talks and this one is up there with the best, both entertaining and informative.

As shorthand when talking to and about Taame I talk about his standing on a ladder. Standing on a ladder is for me the visual representation of a deep principle underlying all human engagement, a principle rarely understood in the Crown’s engagement with Maori despite the years of Treaty settlements and hundreds of millions of dollars involved.

I still don’t believe that the Crown truly gets the principle of mana. It is something the NZ Police definitely didn’t get in 2007, both in their incompetent “intelligence” investigation and in the paramilitary assault on Ruatoki. More about that later.

Watch the video here: Taame Iti: Mana – the power in knowing who you are .

Links: The Operation 8 Series

I dream a dream

“I dream lofty dreams,
and as I dream, so I become.
My vision is the promise
of what I one day am;
my Ideal is the prophecy
of what I at last unveil.”

– James Allen

I dream a life given to Io-Matua
Whose works great and small I perform,
seeking to stand hour by hour
in His presence.

Moment by moment I seek
to make this world a better place,
guided by the God-Force,
within and without.

Striving to discover my unique gifts;
and to use the greatest,
that which gives me happiness
and untold pleasure,
for the purposes most needed
in all the world.

To become the best me
I can be;
to help others become.
To give, to serve,
to promote peace,
healing and prosperity.
To unconditionally love
all creatures
and all things.

To passionately mine
the Wisdoms of the ages.
A lifetime of learning and contemplation,
knowing and becoming;
and so to write and teach others
to know and become.

And I dream a journey into serenity,
a journey of the fulfilled spirit
to Hawaiki and beyond;
to Io-Matua-Kore.

“I dream lofty dreams
and as I dream, so I become.”


Copyright: Ross Nepias Himona

Racism – A Personal Recollection

A few weeks ago I was in Waipawa visiting with my eldest daughter, my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I spent my final evening in town in the company of two daughters, one grandson, four granddaughters, two granddaughters-in-law, one grandniece, and nine great grandchildren. Apart from making you feel your age that context tends to give you a multi-generational long term view of life and its challenges. Racism is one of them.

During my stay in Waipawa I went uptown to the Central Hawke’s Bay Settlers Museum to look at their Gallipoli exhibition. It was interesting in a local sort of way. But their display of local history books caught my eye, particularly “Opening the Gate, The Story of the Te Aute District” published by the Te Aute and Pukehou Historic Book Trust in November 2006. In the acknowledgements I noticed immediately that I was one of the contributing writers, which was news to me!

They had filched a piece called “Te Aute, Te Aute, Te Aute” that I wrote in “Te Putatara in 1997.  However I long ago realised that in Tikanga Maori “copyright” means that any Maori has a right to copy your stuff without asking, and even without acknowledging that you wrote it. In this case I assume that one of my whanaunga gave permission, and they did attribute it to me. So that’s all right.

The book was about my home district and apparently I had contributed so I bought it. It was a goldmine.

The Maori history, the settler history, the geological history, Maori families, Pakeha families, schools, hotels, shops, farming and other businesses, community organisations, even a record of all those buried in the local urupa – it was all there. This was my home district and my home villages and my home people. It brought a rush of memories of my childhood and teenage years growing up in this rural paradise. Good memories, mostly.

It also brought back memories of growing up with racism.

Like almost all Maori I have spent the whole of my life living under the shadow of racism in the New Zealand I know. The other New Zealand has mostly officially and unofficially denied the existence of racism, but continued to practice it, overtly and covertly. Two different countries in the same land, wrapped in the same flag.

Which is not to say that I have become rabidly anti-Pakeha; just mildly anti-Pakeha from time to time. After all, half my relations are Pakeha and half my friends are Pakeha. In fact I was brought up in the two worlds of my family, Maori and Pakeha, and still have close relationships on both sides.

I grew up in the 1940s, through the 1950s, and left home to join the Army in 1962. We all knew and accepted that racism was just part of life for us. We were not really shocked when Dr Henry Bennett was refused service in a Papakura hotel in 1959 because he was Maori. It was much publicised and even condemned but it was the sort of thing we expected in the New Zealand of those times. I was 15 or 16 at the time and had already been personally exposed to racism. At that young age we were already veterans in the ongoing battle of the races.

My Pakeha mother taught me to read and write in 1946 when I was three. According to her it didn’t take much teaching and I got it straight away. I remember sitting in the sun outside the kitchen window of the farm cottage reading and reading, and reading. By the time I started school I’d read everything in the first two years’ curriculum, and much more. My first teacher didn’t know what to do with me and didn’t challenge me at all. I remember sitting around doing nothing for a whole year, and being regularly punished for being bored and distracted, and distracting others. At the end of that first year her two top pupils were Chinese and Maori. I’m told that she was somewhat offended that a Maori was top pupil although I didn’t know it at the time.

Six years later, having been academically challenged by two excellent teachers at two different schools, I was about to be made Dux of Pukehou Primary School. I had spent the final four years in the headmaster’s classroom being pushed to my academic limits by WW2 veteran Arthur Harold William Thompson. I was his star pupil. A few days before the final prize-giving he took me aside and told me that I was not going to be Dux. The school committee, all Pakeha, had decided to stop awarding medals for Dux because they could not agree to award it to a Maori. At the prize-giving I got a special Headmaster’s prize that he bought from his own pocket; a book called “The Pale Grey Men”. The book wasn’t up to much but the title said it all.

You might understand how this single incident has coloured my attitude to New Zealand society ever since. It was the first time that I consciously realized that to be an intelligent Maori brighter than many Pakeha was to be deeply resented. We were supposed to be dumb buggers. Happy, promiscuous, guitar playing, sheep shearing, lazy dumb buggers. That was our station in life. Pakeha were the ones with the brains. Get over it I hear you say. Well, we move on but I don’t think many of us get over it. It sits there in the unconscious mind forever, gets dredged up occasionally and now written down for the first time.

My path through secondary school was mostly smooth and still high achieving until towards the end. I ran up against a science and mathematics teacher who hated having a Maori at the top of his class. He was a small man in all respects [biased opinion] nicknamed Chook. His wife also taught; tall, stern and imposing. We used to say that his wife was the rooster in the family. Between us, me and Chook, we conspired to conduct a running battle of wits [well my wit and his cane] and to drop my academic performance several grades. I suppose he achieved his aim, albeit an unconscious aim [speculation]. I did have the satisfaction of threatening to break his cane over his bald head if ever he tried to use it again. He used to send me to the Principal to get caned after that. Thankfully an outstanding teacher the next year encouraged me to produce outstanding results in science and mathematics.

On the rugby field I was doing quite well, pushed hard by my father. In the local third grade I was without doubt the best player in my position in the competition and looking forward to selection to the Central Hawke’s Bay representative team. Then my father warned me not to get my hopes too high. The father of a Pakeha player in my position was connected to the Rugby Union and my dad thought he would probably get the nod. My dad’s Pakeha friend who was also connected to the Rugby Union thought the same. They were right. He who was not a very good rugby player [widely shared opinion] got the nod the next year as well.

I read later that All Black selection at the time wasn’t a colour blind process either.

I was by then about 16 or 17, or both, and had become as interested in girls as I was in rugby. She was Pakeha, blonde, beautiful and intelligent. We both excelled in the classroom and in sport and spent a lot of time together at school. Eventually we decided to go to a dance together. All our classmates were going. I stayed in town with a Pakeha classmate. On the morning of the dance his sister told me that my girlfriend-to-be was sorry but her mother had told her she was not going out with a Maori. So I went on my own and she wasn’t there of course. And that was the sad wistful end of that. That’s life. You move on.

About ten years ago she introduced herself to my eldest daughter and told her she once had a crush on her father. I thought that was nice.

I left that school moments before I got expelled by a racist [opinion] cane-wielding principal and went to Te Aute College into a Maori-friendly environment. The main event there was when I got six of the best across the arse with a plum stick wielded by the Maori chaplain after getting caught smoking. “This will hurt me more than it hurts you my son”, he intoned in the liturgical manner. “Bullshit”, I replied. He miscounted and the legal limit of six strokes became seven; the seventh an “Amen” to the prayerful Anglican practice of beating. Couldn’t accuse him of racism though.

By his actions and attitude my father taught by example how we should not ever accept racism.

At one time during the shearing season he was contacted by a local big time sheep farmer, racehorse breeder and knight of the realm. The said Knight was in a bind and didn’t have a gang booked to shear his sheep. So we went out to meet him, my Dad and I. They sorted out the business details then we went to inspect the shearers’ quarters. They were atrocious; filthy dirty. My Dad said we’re not living in those conditions, you’ll have to pay extra for us to travel every day. Sir objected strongly and said it was good enough for all his previous (i.e. Maori) gangs and it was good enough for us.

Here comes the brilliant bit.

So my Dad said I tell you what, you put your horses in the shearers’ quarters and we’ll live in those lovely clean stables. He paid us to travel.

At about that time my father brought home a highly controversial book by a despised visiting American academic, David Ausubel. We both read “The Fern and the Tiki” (Angus & Robertson, 1960) and discussed it at length.  Ausubel had correctly pointed out that there was a widespread colour bar in New Zealand and that most Pakeha vehemently denied its existence. This was the first and only serious discussion my dad and I had about racism, virtually on the eve of my journey into adulthood. He told me of the barriers his professional cousins had encountered in their careers, and the advice one of them, Dr Manahi Nitama Paewai, had told him to pass on to me. A professional career as a Maori would be challenging to say the least.

So what did I learn in my early impressionable days from these and many similar incidents? Some hard lessons about being Maori; that’s what.

I decided to join the New Zealand Army. Well, I didn’t decide really because I was headhunted to become a commissioned officer and jumped at the opportunity to go to Australia for a few years to be trained. I was told by Staff Sergeant (later Major) Roly Manning who recruited me that army recruiters had been unofficially told to actively recruit high achieving Maori to become officers. The Army at that time had a lot of Maori soldiers and only a few Maori officers. Made sense to me. And the trip overseas was alluring. I had hardly been out of Hawke’s Bay, except to travel with my father to Athletic Park in Wellington for the odd test match.

When I was an occasional teenage larrikin occasionally let loose on the streets of Waipawa town the local cop, WW2 veteran Sergeant Stan Brown, would kick my arse and send me packing back to my Maori village. I reckon it could have been because his daughter was sweet on me [wishful thinking]. Just after I was commissioned as an officer in the NZ Army he saw me on the street and demanded in his usual stern voice to know what I was up to. When I told him I was a commissioned officer he saluted and called me Sir, genuinely pleased for me. Some cops, maybe a lot of cops, are good guys.

The level of racism I encountered in the NZ Army was a lot less than in everyday civilian life. There were a lot of Maori in the army but mostly in the enlisted ranks. There were about thirty Maori commissioned officers around my rank and seniority, dwindling to about 10 by the time I retired in 1982. In the main we were free from racism but I found that there were some officers who had no problem working with Maori so long as they weren’t their superiors, in either rank or intellect. As I became more senior and posed more of a potential threat in the promotion stakes I went head to head with a few of them.

I did have some wins in the racism battle though. I arrived back in New Zealand at the end of 1967 as a young war veteran after operational tours in Borneo and Vietnam. My British wife and I travelled around the North Island for about a month before I reported for work in Wellington. During our travels we noticed that hotels and motels often didn’t have rooms available when I went in to book, but always did when she went to the desk without me. When we arrived in Wellington we encountered another hotel with racist attitudes. She made the booking.

A week later I went back to that hotel in full uniform, introduced myself to the manager and told him that I was now the officer in charge of the staff that made all travel and accommodation bookings in Wellington. I knew that his hotel was a preferred supplier so I had come to meet him. We chatted amiably and I didn’t tell him about the booking incident. His hotel did not get a single booking from Army for the next two years. How cruel was that? Not cruel enough probably.

And some losses.

In the early 1970’s I was in Melbourne attached to the Australian Defence Department as an intelligence analyst. I used to enjoy working in Australia with Army or Defence. As soon as I landed in Australia, every time I went there, I was no longer Ross Himona, Maori and professional soldier. I became just Ross Himona, professional soldier, judged only on my ability to do my job. It was as though an invisible burden was lifted as I got off the plane.

My bosses in Intelligence in Australia were experienced WW2 veterans who had built the organization they now ran. They greatly appreciated my talents, trained me and gave me a variety of job experiences with the aim, they said, of keeping me in the business for the long term. They even approached New Zealand Defence to try to keep me in Intelligence. But that was not to be.

Near the end of my time in Melbourne we were visited by a senior naval officer from NZ Defence Intelligence. On the weekend a few of us NZ Defence people entertained him at a poolside BBQ. While I was chatting privately with him about my work he asked me out of the blue what I thought about Nga Tamatoa, the newly formed Maori protest group based mainly around Auckland University. I was honest and said I agreed with their aims but not necessarily with their methods. No more was said. A couple of weeks later a friend in Intelligence in Wellington told me that the conversation had been noted and that it was unlikely that I would have a career in Intelligence in New Zealand Defence. Another door closes.

And twenty years after I left Pukehou Primary School without my Dux my past looped back to confront me in the Army.

One day back then at Pukehou, about 1955, a classmate brought to school a photo of her older brother who was in Malaya with the army or about to deploy to Malaya. He had just been promoted to Lance Corporal, the first rank on the ladder. She was very proud. Twenty years later I was a Major at Waiouru in an executive role. That very same Lance Corporal from Pukehou had risen through the ranks to Warrant Officer Class 1, at the top of the ladder for enlisted men. He was experienced, competent and well respected, and he now worked directly to me. He was fairly autonomous in his role and I didn’t interfere at all. He didn’t realize exactly who I was but I knew his lineage. We got on quite well, I thought.

He marched into my office one day, stood to attention in front of my desk, saluted, and said he had something to discuss with me. I invited him to relax and take a seat but he remained standing. Then he told me straight up that he could not work for a Maori officer, was not going to another day longer, and how was I going to resolve the issue.

I knew he was eligible for retirement, and I knew that he was planning to build his retirement home back in Pukehou. So I told him that I wasn’t going anywhere, that the New Zealand Army could no longer provide a haven for people with his attitude to Maori, and to submit his retirement papers that very day. He did and was retired on a pension within the week. I preserved his dignity and respect (and his pension) and didn’t tell a soul the real reason for his sudden retirement.

He went back home to Pukehou and built his retirement home. Then he tried to put himself on all the committees in the village including my old Pukehou Primary School, and started behaving as though he had the authority of an army warrant officer. But things had changed in Pukehou since he and his family had left. My Maori relations ran all the committees and much of the business of the village, and they gave him short shrift. Eventually he sold up and moved away. A few years later he died.

I felt genuinely sad for the man who had a long and distinguished career in the army and was a respected senior soldier. But he was a product of his time and his village, a village that had imprinted itself upon both of us, on opposite sides of the racial divide.

In the Officer Corps at the time there was little in the way of racism, although it was always made known in subtle and sometimes no-so-subtle ways that a commissioned Maori officer should abide by the values and culture of the officer corps rather than being overtly Maori. So we were officers on and off the job, and Maori in private. Which was basically the advice given to me years before by my whanaunga Dr Paewai.

Alcohol could unhinge the façade of camaraderie though. I had a friend in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment slightly senior to me who I knew to be racist. But as infantry officers and trout fishermen we got on just fine and he respected my feelings by keeping his racism under wraps. Professionally we worked well together as we should have. Occasionally in the Mess he would get a skin full and start ranting, at which stage I would discreetly withdraw. On one occasion however another Pakeha officer and friend took offence on my behalf and punched him out. Sadly that seriously impaired the working relationship.

You’re in the Army for a serious purpose and you have to trust each other and work together despite your differences.

In the last five years of my career in the army I started having a few problems with a few people; a small minority. At first I thought it was just me, being my usual smartarse self. However a Pakeha officer quite senior to me, wise and friendly, told me in the bar one night that I was too bright for my own good. I got the message. He meant as a Maori I was too bright for my own good. Another more senior officer told me that I was making enemies of some people who would soon have an influence on my career, and that the generals who were looking after me for the moment would soon retire. The way he put it was that I was backing the wrong horses. The reasons were the same; too bright and too Maori, and rightly or wrongly thought to be under the patronage of the senior Maori, Brigadier and soon to be Major General Brian Poananga, and others of that generation.

I respected both of those officers and had earned their respect in return. I took their observations seriously.

And as I always acknowledge – I was a bit of a smartarse. One of my mentors the late Sir John Mokonuiarangi Bennett was to tell me years later that one of my failings is my genetically programmed hard wired inability to suffer fools gladly. It suited me to regard that as a strength but he did have a point.

I was to find out over the next five years that they were right. There were just a few racists but they were becoming influential. And I was a target. And I didn’t react with passive equanimity. Although I enjoyed the soldiering aspects of the army I’d had enough of living within a rigid hierarchy anyway so in 1982 I retired, having completed twenty years loyal and faithful service to Queen and country, some of them as a spook.

In defence of the NZ Army I have to record that most of the officers I served with and under were top people without a racist bone in their bodies, and I have a deep and abiding respect for all the soldiers, non-commissioned officers and warrant officers who served under me and with me. Three friends who each later became Chief of Army (Tony Birks, Piers Reid and Maurice Dodson) radically changed the army which became a tribe known as Ngati Tumatauenga and actively embraced Maori culture at all levels. Some of my old retired adversaries in the officer corps didn’t react favourably to that.

As a Maori, life outside the army was a return to the full impact of New Zealand racism. By then it had been moderated by race relations legislation and by the appointment of a Race Relations Conciliator but it was and is ever present as background noise to almost every aspect of life.

An event that brought this home to me was on a trip home to Hawke’s Bay. I walked into a shop in Napier and stood in line to be served. I didn’t get served until the two Pakeha in line behind me were served. At which point I loudly and unprintably abused the shopkeeper and walked out.

I also applied for a job at an RSA in Hawke’s Bay, recorded in this bitter poem, written shortly after.

Yours sincerely

Situations Vacant.
Secretary / Manager.
Our RSA invites
from suitable people.
Dear Sir,
Enclosed is my CV.
I believe I am
a suitable applicant.
Yours sincerely
Major R.N.Himona.
Dear Major,
We would be pleased
to interview you
for the position
of Secretary / Manager.
Yours sincerely,
Returned Services Association.
Dear Major,
We were impressed
but regret to advise
you were not
Yours sincerely,
Returned Services Association.
Dear Major,
I’m ashamed
of my RSA.
You were the best by far.
We didn’t select you
because you’re Maori.
Please accept
my personal apologies.
Yours sincerely.

© 1983, Ross Nepia Himona

That was the Taradale RSA. Nothing much had changed in 25 years in provincial New Zealand. I have to add that the Taradale RSA is now led by good friends from my Borneo and Vietnam days.

In business from 1982 to 2011, owning and running a Maori business, we found that almost without exception we were patronized and talked down to in our dealings with the Pakeha business community. Sometimes we played the game and watched and waited with delight as they slowly came to the realization that we were very smart and very capable, and sometimes knew more than they did. The good companies made the necessary adjustment in attitude very quickly. The slow learners got the flick and we took our business elsewhere.

In my writings in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s in my popular newsletter “Te Putatara” I often deliberately provoked racist responses from people who claimed not to be racist. After a few years I tired of the predictability of the response and let it go.

During that time I also used to take on the Maori elites as well and to poke fun at the then Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Koro Wetere. Nothing too personal. One day Mr Wetere came to Te Hauke to open a community centre in a big old homestead we had bought, with a Maori Affairs loan, near our Kahuranaki Marae. He asked me why we had bought a tired old homestead and I told him we hadn’t. I was having him on, just a bit. He looked a bit confused because he was right; it was more than a bit tired. Then I asked him if he had bought back the hill overlooking his marae, the one the Pakeha had perched on for over 100 years, and he got it.

The whole tongue-in-cheek exchange was witnessed by our kaumatua the late Sir John Bennett and the late Eru Smith. They took me aside later that day and told me they totally supported me in my tussles and sparring with the Establishment through my newsletter “Te Putatara”. They were part of the Establishment themselves and I asked them why that support was private, not public. They were totally honest with me. It felt to me as though that was the first time they had been that honest with anyone. They told me something that astounded me but explained so many things.

They were afraid, those pillars of the Establishment; with an inbuilt, deep-seated fear. For the whole of their adult lives their livelihoods and the livelihoods of their whanau had depended on their getting on with the Pakeha who employed them and with the Pakeha amongst whom they lived and worked. The Pakeha had the power to destroy the lives of themselves and their families. Until that moment I had never realised that racism can breed so much fear. In my whanau we had been raised to resist it and I had assumed it was so for all Maori.

Racism is an attitude of superiority based on skin colour and culture. To maintain that belief the other, in this case Maori, are thought to be an inferior race in all respects, especially intellectually inferior. There is no scientific justification whatsoever for that belief.

The observable tip of the human mind is the conscious mind in which we are sometimes rational and logical, most often to justify irrational behaviours, and just occasionally to modify outdated attitudes and beliefs. By far the most influential part of the mind however is the unconscious mind, or the adaptive unconscious. Within this unconscious mind are all the memories and passed down attitudes of a lifetime, stored, adapted and shaped into a narrative that shapes and contains our beliefs and our self-image. The unconscious mind makes millions of decisions every day, based on that narrative, and the stored experiences, and determines our reactions to events from moment to moment, without our being in the slightest bit aware of what is going on.

Research psychologists have shown that we can believe one thing in our rational conscious minds while the more powerful unconscious mind still believes exactly the opposite.

That’s where racism is today. Many New Zealanders continue to display overt and antagonistic racist attitudes to Maori. Many New Zealanders have genuinely moved on and accept Maori as equals. And in the middle are those who have made a conscious shift in attitude and in rational moments display non-racist behaviours. But lurking in the depths below is the unmodified racism that will come to the surface in unguarded moments, or in safe environments with friends, or when deliberately provoked by (slightly reformed) shit stirrers like me.

These days I mostly ignore it, treating it as part of life without ever accepting it. Indignation and anger don’t change it and are a waste of precious time and energy at my age. Change only ever happens over the generations, very slowly.

You might ask why, in an essay on racism in Aotearoa New Zealand, I have related my very personal history of racism, or highlights of it. To be honest I didn’t intend to but it’s the only way I know to show what racism does. The experience of racism is a very personal experience, reinforced over time, that burrows its way into the very core of your being deep in the unconscious mind, like a poisonous maggot, and it never goes away. As I found out from my kaumatua that maggot has sometimes given birth to deep seated fear.

It just goes on and on and on. It is also a shared personal experience among nearly all Maori. Academics have written objective treatises on the subject, and legislation has objectively outlawed it, but racism is not an objective experience and I can’t be objective about it. I can only tell you some of my personal history, and assure you that it is not at all unique or remarkable in Maori New Zealand. It is part of the background to everything about the lives of Maori. Unfortunately it’s not fashionable these days to talk about it.

I actually wrote most of this essay about ten years ago and had it stashed on the hard disk waiting for the right time to publish it. A conversation with another retired Maori Army officer a few months ago, and a book in a local museum a few weeks ago stirred the memories again. But I enjoyed the book despite those memories.

Not all of the Pakeha I knew then were racist. I was convinced that the girls all liked me. Later, for about ten years 1991-2000 I served on the Board of Trustees of Te Aute College and noticed some big changes in attitude in the district. I was also heavily involved in the re-opening of Hukarere and during that time had a wonderful relationship with the Williams family, some of them descendants of Archdeacon Samuel Williams who founded Te Aute College and also a farming dynasty in the district.

My whanau, the one we called the shearing gang, had a long and mutually beneficial business relationship with that Williams farming dynasty and with other farming families in the district, including the White family. An old friend Adrian White was on the organising committee for the local history and wrote the foreword.

Despite the differences our lives in the Te Aute and Pukehou district, Maori and Pakeha, were intertwined to a certain degree, as the lives of Maori and Pakeha throughout Aotearoa New Zealand are increasingly intertwined. We just have to keep working at eliminating the racial discrimination. There is no quick fix. It takes generations to change the powerful narratives in our individual and collective unconscious minds.

I know that it will still be there but I hope that it will have improved in the times of those mokopuna in Waipawa, my great grandchildren.

Memoirs of an Outsider

These are the memoirs of an outsider; of a left hander in a right handed world, an introvert in an extroverted world, a Maori in a Pakeha world, an observer by inclination and a participant by necessity; a bystander.

I’ve been consciously aware of being an outsider, a bit different, from an early age. As a teenager my favourite author was Thomas Hardy. His Wessex novels of social criticism, often in rural settings I readily felt at home in, portrayed outsider characters; bystanders looking on at society. I empathised with them. In the 1970s I discovered Colin Wilson and his 1956 classic “The Outsider” in which he investigated the experience of the outsider; a sense of dislocation or being at odds with society. He explored his theme through literature and through the lives of great thinkers, writers, artists and men of action. His “Outsider” was a person on a quest, experiencing life at and between the extremes of the nothingness of non-being and the highs that came in moments of great insight. The book was an instant best-seller, was translated into thirty languages, and has never been out of print. It sits still within easy reach in my study.

In the early 1970s I was also fortunate to be given time out from a full on busy military career to spend four years in Melbourne on attachment to Australian Defence. Melbourne at the time was a hive of intellectual activity during a period when many perhaps all of the social and political conventions of post-WW2 conformity were being challenged. It was the time of Germaine Greer’s “The Female Eunuch” and Dennis Altman’s “Homosexual”, two of the many books that directly challenged and upset the Establishment elites and their comfortable conservative worldview. I immersed myself in that intellectual environment; reading, attending lectures, talks and seminars, and following the performance and visual arts. I subscribed to “Nation Review”, an intellectually vibrant weekly newspaper of criticism and critique, and humour and satire, that later provided the model for my own modest effort “Te Putatara”.

The life of an outsider or a bystander is not a lonely life for it is still peopled by family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. And of course nowadays by all of those Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn digital friends, followers and contacts. The life of an outsider or bystander is however lived mostly in the inner world of reflection and contemplation. A good book whether fiction or non-fiction, a good movie, play or concert, a quiet dinner and conversation with friends, or a long walk in the countryside, is infinitely more satisfying than a night at the pub or a noisy party.

It is a life lived for all or most of the last thirty years as a vegetarian then vegan, and nicotine and alcohol free, free of both recreational and prescription drugs, enjoying only the natural highs of a well exercised body, an engaged mind and a settled spirit. Vegans and wowsers are outsiders by choice of course. But I’m a health nut vegan rather than a hard core animal rights political vegan. I’m not that much of an outsider.

My friend Wira Gardiner has described me as an iconoclast and as the Thomas Paine of Maoridom (displaying his knowledge of American & European history). Some in the Army called me an enigma which I thought said more about them than me. I always knew exactly who and what I was. One of my mentors the late Sir John Mokonuiarangi Bennett told me that my biggest weakness was my inability to suffer fools gladly and I told him he was right but that I always regarded it as a strength as well.

They are only partly autobiographical these revelations or memoirs of mine, keeping from you many aspects of myself and my life’s experience. I’m a private sort of person. Very private. So you should remember as you read that I am many things other than those I reveal. Much like the rest of you.

At this point though I should reveal that I was once a commissioned officer in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, a veteran of the Borneo and Vietnam campaigns. A twenty year soldier. That much you can obtain from the public record. I was once also a spook. Those two occupations will provide some of the material for the memoirs.

These are memoirs but memory is a notorious and scientifically proven liar.

Firstly our powers of observation are not as good as we think they are and we often miss or misinterpret what is happening around us. Eye witnesses in court cases, including policemen, are by definition unreliable, for the eye and the ear are easily deceived. Ask any stage magician, or cognitive psychologist, or my late grandmother who taught me at the age of 5 never to believe anything in the newspapers, or on the radio, and to believe only half of what I observed myself.

The brain simplifies what it observes. Then it focuses on that which we understand and expect from our own experience and stored memories. In doing so the brain leaps to conclusions that fit that experience and memory. And it all happens unbeknown to us behind the veil of consciousness.

As the Talmud (and Anais Nin) told us, “We see things not as they are but as we are”.

Secondly, we all reconstruct our memories all the time. We adjust the facts to accommodate them within the narratives we have created for ourselves to make sense of our lives. We are constantly engaged in giving meaning to our lives through our mental narratives, within which we usually view ourselves as good and worthy people, and sometimes not. We discard or conveniently forget those facts that don’t fit our narratives.

When our unconscious narratives are too much at variance with the facts of our lives we are declared deluded or at worst insane.

With that in mind I have carefully avoided the perils of delusion and insanity, I hope, by checking my recollections as much as I am able without spending years in research. I have checked newspaper accounts of events, various books that have described them, and of course multiple sources on the Internet. I have plumbed the memories of others who witnessed those events. I have consulted my own papers, diaries and journals which are comprehensive, detailed and recorded close to the events described.

Like everyone but I hope to a lesser degree than most I am inclined to judge people and happenings against my own experiences and beliefs, sometimes out of context, and to draw conclusions and make observations; sometimes in error. I shall try in this memoir of mine to differentiate between fact and observation, and to faithfully observe the context, like the accomplished intelligence analyst I once was.

These memoirs are then a record of a journey of some seventy years, or more accurately, about some moments on that journey. They venture outside my own experience to add historical, political and social context to the stories they tell.

Whilst those stories are as far as I can make them factual accounts they may at times read like works of fiction, with elements of both tragedy and comedy. Comedy is an essential element in a joyful life; to be able to see the humour in almost any situation. Tragedy and learning to react stoically to tragedy is the balance in the well lived life. As the cliché goes – it’s not what happens to us that matters, it’s how we deal with it. The tragedic elements in some of these stories stem almost entirely from three main characters; Ignorance, Racism, and Paranoia.

In the first essay I open with an account of a few instances of the racism I have encountered in my own life, to allow the reader to feel the actual experience of racism rather than trying to define it or describe it. In the life of a Maori in a Pakeha world racism is just part of the background noise, mostly soft noise but sometimes loud and jarring.

Regardless of personality type and inclination Maori are by definition outsiders. Which is probably why we continue to preserve our own Maori insider’s world. Because of it some accuse us of apartheid. Some Maori choose to live there almost permanently. Others like me move between the two worlds the one providing a retreat from the other. Some choose to live entirely in the outside Pakeha world.

In my childhood, sixty to seventy years ago, we “half caste” children were a species apart, outsiders by accident of parentage and birth. We were loved and accepted by both our Maori and Pakeha whanau but never fully part of either Maori or Pakeha society. We participated in both, distastefully labelled “half caste” by Pakeha, and if we excelled at school labelled “Pakeha” by those Maori who used cultural difference, however slight, as an excuse for their own learning deficiency.

Those were the days when there were few Maori university graduates. I was the first in our hapu to gain School Certificate, then University Entrance and Higher School Certificate. An oddity if not an outsider. Now we have dozens of university graduates. Education once valued mostly just in our whanau and especially by the aunties, is now prized by the whole hapu. I have seen that happen in my lifetime; the slow but gradual then increasingly rapid movement of Maori out of the shadows of the underclass into the educated middle class. There is still a long way to go but with the advancement I have witnessed in my own lifetime we can look forward to the time when we Maori outsiders are outsiders by genetic programming and choice alone rather than racial discrimination.

I myself like being an outsider and will continue to be an outsider, regardless. I’ve gotten comfortably used to it. It wasn’t always so.