All posts by Putatara

Operation 8: A Failure of Command in the NZ Police

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Incompetence. Unlawful and unprofessional behaviour. An assault on human rights by the NZ Police. It was failure of command on public display.

In the matter of the information gathering about activities in the Urewera in 2006 and 2007 that the NZ Police tried to label as terrorism, Police behaviour was found to be unlawful by the High Court and again by the Supreme Court. It was  found to be unlawful in a report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority, and in a report by the Human Rights Commission. During the information gathering phase of Operation 8 the Police were guilty of unlawful trespass and unlawful surveillance. In the “termination” paramilitary phase they were guilty of unlawful detention, unlawful search and unlawful roadblocks. An awful lot of unlawfulness from the beginning to the awful end.

Many of those unlawful actions were shown in the courts not just to be unlawful, but knowingly and deliberately unlawful. In its ruling the Supreme Court found that almost all of the evidence gathered against the original 17 defendants was unlawfully and improperly obtained. 

In writing this series on Operation 8 I have examined in considerable detail the progress of their intelligence gathering and analysis, and I have concluded beyond doubt that it was unprofessional and incompetent. Essentially there was no professional analysis whatsoever. Intelligence is an intellectual activity and I have concluded that the “intelligence” operation was devoid of intellectual engagement.

That includes the oversight and review of the so called “intelligence” at the highest level of command before approval was given to launch the paramilitary operations on 15th October 2007. There was no effective oversight and review. Imagination substituted for intellect. And lacking the expertise and intellect to properly evaluate the advice given to them the chain of command was captured by the tunnel vision and groupthink originating in the Auckland team of the Special Intelligence Group.

Before the final operation Commissioner Broad briefed ODESC (Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination).  He also briefed a small group of Cabinet ministers before the raids. His assertions must have passed through ODESC without review. One cabinet minister was sceptical and asked him several times to confirm his assertions. He prevailed.

I have also concluded that the paramilitary operation itself showed that the Special Tactics Group and Armed Offenders Squads used in the operations were poorly governed, poorly led, poorly trained and poorly disciplined.

Taken together, all of those failures constitute a failure of command at the highest level. Someone ought to be responsible to ensure that police officers are properly trained for their allocated duties, that they obey the law, and that the police paramilitary force is properly led, trained and disciplined.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad’s desk was where the buck stopped. So he must bear prime responsibility for that failure. But he was not without assistance. Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope was responsible for operations and he must be equally culpable. Assistant Commissioner Jon White was responsible for all intelligence operations and it was his responsibility to ensure the professionalism of those operations. He didn’t.

The record clearly shows that none of them had any real expertise in intelligence. It wasn’t until R. Mark Evans was recruited in October 2007 that the NZ Police had a real intelligence professional who over the next few years set about developing a professional intelligence capability. Prior to that the so called intelligence units set up after 9/11 as a counter terrorist measure focused entirely on ham-fisted heavy-handed gathering of political intelligence about political activism mainly in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.

Those new special intelligence teams (SIG) in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch spent about two years casting around for non-existent terrorists before the Auckland team trumped the others. Based on the unverified ramblings of a totally unreliable Auckland informant they found something they could finally label as terrorism. They were an under-employed counter terrorism unit looking for terrorism anywhere they could find it; and looking for counter terrorism kudos.

An untrained, unsupervised, out of control counter terrorism unit. A failure of command.

There is also evidence that they found their sought-after terrorism in the first instance in the obsessive feud between some Auckland police officers and serial police antagonist Jamie Lockett. Operation 8 was focused almost entirely on Lockett and some of his Pakeha associates until a link was made with Taame Iti and the Urewera.

Those counter terrorism teams, part of the Special Intelligence Group (SIG), were manned by untrained amateurs; mere detectives instead of professional intelligence analysts. The lack of professional oversight and the lack of professionalism within those powerful teams reflected a failure of command at the highest level.

When Operation 8 was launched as a counter terrorism operation there was some disquiet within the NZ Police. There were those at the working level who knew that it was flawed from the beginning. At Police National HQ level there was also some dissent. Yet despite that Commissioner Broad went ahead, as he said, “to nip it in the bud” with a massive armed response despite knowing that no imminent terrorist or criminal activity was planned by the suspects.

The result was a huge loss of trust in the Police within Maori communities. Trust is essential to successful policing. When trust in the Police takes a dive Police Commissioners lose their jobs.

Allegations of rape and sexual misconduct caused the Government to set up a Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct in 2004. Dame Margaret Bazley was a commissioner. That scandal caused a dramatic loss of trust. At the end of 2005 Police Commissioner Robinson resigned barely one year into his second term. Restoration of trust after such a loss can take ten years or more. Part of Howard Broad’s brief as the incoming Police Commissioner in April 2006 was to restore that lost trust. He in his turn lost the trust of Maori in October 2007.

In October 2012 Fairfax media reported a survey that indicated trust in the Police had hit a new low, having fallen 11.5% to 59.9% in the preceding five years. That included four of the five years Howard Broad held the appointment of police commissioner. The survey was of course disputed by the Police and their minister.

“Comments in the survey indicate that the fall in public trust centres on the police’s management of complaints against its officers, and actions considered heavy-handed, including the Urewera and Dotcom mansion raids”.

The sensational raids in the Urewera came just seven months after the release in March 2007 of Dame Margaret’s Commission of Inquiry report into Police misconduct. The Police launched their own inquiry into the same misconduct in 2004, called Operation Austin. The raids in October 2007 were launched at almost the same time as the release of the Operation Austin report.

However coincidental, Operation 8 accompanied by a professionally orchestrated media campaign certainly served to deflect media and public attention from those damning reports, and from the huge sexual misconduct scandal that had brought the NZ Police into disrepute, and had dogged them for the previous three years.

In the following years from 2008 to 2011 the Operation 8 accused and their lawyers uncovered and proved more unlawful conduct by the Police as they slowly battled their way through a series of court hearings culminating at the Supreme Court in September 2011. At the Supreme Court the main evidence against them was declared to be unlawful but allowed to be used in criminal group charges against four defendants only. Most of that process was suppressed by the courts until September 2011. Police misconduct throughout Operation 8 did not register with the public.

In late 2011, almost immediately after the Supreme Court finding of unlawful conduct, video evidence was released to the media under the pretext of “public interest”. It deflected that public interest away from the Supreme Court’s substantive findings of unlawful conduct by the Police.

It is certainly speculation to infer that Commissioner Howard Broad’s contract was not renewed at the end of his first term in 2011 because of Operation 8, but for some reason it wasn’t renewed. Deputy Commissioner Pope resigned in 2011 before his contract was not renewed. Assistant Commissioner White quietly moved on to Australia in 2010 and is now CEO of the Australia New Zealand Police Advisory Agency.

The three senior officers in the chain of command during Operation 8 all moved on, or were moved on. The next Commissioner seemed to do little to restore trust. He didn’t have his contract renewed. The present Commissioner seems to be working hard to have his contract renewed.

In the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours Howard Broad was made a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit. He has since been appointed to the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet as Deputy Chief Executive Security & Intelligence. He is now responsible for policy and coordination for the whole security and intelligence community. His career has been resurrected.

Not everyone shares Government’s confidence in Howard Broad.

The resurrection of Broad’s career shows that he was not really held accountable for the failure of command and loss of trust. So, if not Broad, who in the Police hierarchy should have been made publicly accountable for that failure of command? Or was all quietly forgiven and forgotten?

Business as usual.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Rangi Kemara Remembers "15 October 2007 The Day the Raids Came"

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

This series of tweets posted by Rangi Kemara on 15th October 2015

The story of the paramilitary assault on the house and caravan at Manurewa where Rangi lived with the late Tuhoe Lambert and his whanau. An innovative and powerful use of Twitter to tell the story of his gunpoint arrest. …

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo15 October, 2007, The day the raids came. My recollections of that morning: Early morning, still dark. I’m awake

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Loud noises outside, cops yelling at neighbours, doesn’t sound good, remembers yesterday’s domestic dispute

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Im thinking, must’ve boiled over into something serious cuz theres a crap load of cops piling up outside

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Lots more vehicles, racing engines, squeeling tires, loud noise as front left fence is demolished

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@Te_Taipo_taipo I edge back curtains for better look, holy shit there’s fucking armed cops everywhere! W-T-F!!!

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Loud hailer: You in the caravan, come out with your hands up! This repeats. It occurs to me, I’m in a fucken caravan!

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo I can see many gunmen up high on vehicles aiming down, this is a kill zone if I step into it…

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo I step out to hear the shooter on point yell in quick succession “gun-gun-gun” meaning, I had a gun, shoot me dead…

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo I yell back, “no gun, no gun, no gun!” Step out into the glow-worm lights of many assault rifle torches

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo How many can I quickly count, 10, 15, 20, lost count, dam! Too many, my kung-fu will not save me.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Loud hailer now screaming for me to raise my hands, 4 gunmen rush me, barrels to my head, all 4 sides???

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Thoughts cross my mind, who trained these idiots, I could bend over to touch my toes, crossfire, 4 dead cops

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Armed escort to the street, I can see fear in their eyes. One is yelling “dont look at me!!! Eyes Front!!!”

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo That accent, fuck me he’s a Maori! Better work stories aye? Fucken lickplate!

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo I can see plastic stock assault rifles, so my reply, “eyes front? or what???”

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Forced to the ground, plasticuffs, barrels against back of my head, frightened gunmen, the worst kind…

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo 2nd wave of police soldiers head in to drag the whanau out in the main house. First out is Tuhoe Lambert.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo They’re lined up against the wall like a firing squad. Whaea Ada is yelling to the kids that it’s going to be ok.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Cops yelling at her to shut the fuck up! She replies, “or what you going to do”. Keeps talking.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo They drag her across the road & try to force her into a vehicle unsuccessfully. Wahine toa! They give up.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Kemara! Do you have any weapons on you, yeah, there’s a fucken 105 howitzer in my top pocket! Idiots!

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Tuhoe & I are lifted by the plasticuffed arms and dragged around the corner away from the whanau.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Forced to ground again face down in water. Pissing down. STG gunman: “Kemara, where are the guns?”

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Me: “In car boot, my keys are in caravan right next to my fucken firearms license”

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo STG Gunman: “Bullshit! you don’t have a license”, Me: “Pointless debate, go have a look for yourself”, he sends a runner.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo So we wait, face down for arresting detectives to arrive. Half hour, still nothing. Shit, I’m going to be so late for work.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Finally hear the dullards voice, allowed to kneel facing the fence as Det Hamish McDonald formerly arrests me.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Charged with what feels like 1.21 Gigacounts of unlawful possession of firearms, fuck, I’m sure they’ve found my license by now.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Tells me he wants to talk to me about terrorism, I reply, na get me a lawyer. We’re off to Wiri cop shop for parakuihi.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo 15 October, 2007, the day the raids came.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Remembering 15th October 2007 and the Police Paramilitary Assault on Human Rights

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

The Cowboys in Black Fancy Dress and Operation “Hi Ho Silver”

Today is the eighth anniversary of the New Zealand Police paramilitary operation carried out in the Urewera and elsewhere by a bunch of over-hyped, poorly led, poorly trained and poorly disciplined cowboys.

To date in this series on Operation 8 I have concentrated on a critical analysis of the Intelligence process leading up to the paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007. I have done that from the perspective of a retired Intelligence analyst with twenty years military experience and over thirty years experience in community and Maori development.

In this post I am looking at the paramilitary operation itself, euphemistically called the “Urewera Raids”.

I claim superior expertise to critically analyse that operation as well. In my twenty years in the NZ Army my primary specialty  was as a combat arms commander. I was experienced in planning and conducting operations of the type on display on 15th October 2007 . During my deployment to Vietnam in 1967 I commanded an infantry platoon that took part in the “cordon and search” of several towns and villages. They were towns and villages where it was 100% certain that any enemy in hiding would fight fiercely if discovered, and there usually were enemy combatants hiding out in the villages. Additionally in my final posting in the Army 1980-82 I was involved at HQ staff level in the establishment of a counter-terrorism capability.

For a long time after 15th October 2007 I had assumed that the paramilitary police Special Tactics Group (STG) must have had very little time to plan and rehearse their paramilitary operation. It was obviously way over the top and has since been found by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) to have been illegal in many respects (he says unlawful, I say illegal). That would seem to indicate a lack of time to prepare a plan that met all legal requirements. However the IPCA Report of 22nd May 2013 reveals that on 27th September 2007 the Operation 8 team briefed the Police Commissioner and senior staff at Police National Headquarters and on 10th October 2007 the Commissioner authorised the “termination” operation. Warrants for the paramilitary operation were obtained that day.

The Police National HQ and STG leadership had at least five days and up to 18 days to prepare for their paramilitary operation. There was therefore no excuse for the illegal aspects of the plan. There was however some justification for the ferocity of the plan because of the flawed information they were given to base that plan upon. The planning process for the operation was the standard military and police operational process and the IPCA states that it was followed. However that process was only as good as the people who conducted it and the Intelligence on which it was based. The summary of that Intelligence is shown in this extract from the IPCA Report:

“93. The information which STG relied upon in formulating the plan included the following:

  • “the targets possessed numerous weapons including “heavy calibre military style semi-­ automatic weapons” and were part of a group actively training in military tactics;
  • “they had received training in the use of rudimentary explosives and incendiary devices;
  • “intelligence suggested they were prepared to “die for their cause” and use lethal force to achieve their purpose, including sleeping with weapons under their beds to be better prepared for any attack on them;
  • “the intention of this group was to achieve “an independent Tūhoe nation within the Urewera area”;
  • “the area where the training camps were situated was rural and some distance from comprehensive medical facilities;
  • “not all attendees at the training camps had been identified by Police;
  • “intelligence suggested there was an unknown “local group” in the area who could pose a threat to Police; and
  • “the feelings of the community towards the participants in the training camps were largely unknown and thus it was stated that “the existence of sympathisers and supporters for their cause cannot be discounted””.

Having analysed the Intelligence process in detail I have absolutely no doubt that the last two of those bullet points were wild assumptions for which there was no Intelligence or evidence either way. They were however critical elements in the planning of the paramilitary operation. The third and fourth bullet points were not supported by corroborated and verified evidence.

It was a way-over-the-top intelligence assessment that led to the way-over-the-top paramilitary operation. In several previous analyses of the Intelligence process I have shown why it was unprofessional, incompetent, lacking in depth, unverified and wrong. To that I now add way over the top. That briefing to the STG also shows that the Police were proceeding into New Zealand’s first major counter-terrorist operation with insufficient and incomplete information, and on the basis of some wild assumptions about the “terrorists”, their capabilities and their intentions. That was a command failure at the highest level.

In several of my previous analyses I have referred to Commissioner Broad’s statements after the event. It is appropriate to do so again. He admitted that he had no indication of an imminent terrorist event and that he authorised the operation only to “nip it in the bud”. With a full on assault on an innocent community?

Despite there being some justification for the style of operation they mounted based on faulty Intelligence and a failure of command, the STG and Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) teams committed some egregiously unlawful behaviour involving innocent whanau and communities. This extract from the executive summary of the IPCA Report describes that behaviour:

“10. … the planning and preparation for the establishment of the road blocks in Ruatoki and Taneatua was deficient. The Authority has found there was no lawful basis for those road blocks being established or maintained. There was no lawful power or justification for Police to detain, stop and search the vehicles, take details from or photograph the drivers or passengers.

 “11. There was no assessment of the substantial and adverse impact of such road blocks on the local community. The road block at Ruatoki was intimidating to innocent members of that community, particularly in view of the use of armed Police officers in full operational uniform.

 “12. The majority of complaints received by the Authority in relation to property searches were not from target individuals but rather from other occupants at these properties complaining about the way they were treated by Police. Some felt they were being treated as suspects. A number of occupants were informed by Police that they were being detained while a search of the property occurred, despite there being no lawful basis for such detention. Police had no legal basis for conducting personal searches of these occupants.

 The behaviour of the Police that day has been publicly documented. It included:

  • Detaining at gunpoint several innocents, including women and children still in their night attire, and sometimes in stressful positions; some were made to kneel on concrete paths with guns at their heads;
  • Conducting intrusive body searches of women who were not suspects;
  • Forcefully separating children from their carers;
  • Detaining a woman and her children in a shed for hours without food and water and toilet facilities, and laughing when she asked for relief.

The IPCA Report states:

“Police actions led occupants at five properties to have reasonable cause to believe that they were being detained while the search was conducted. The detention of occupants at these properties was contrary to law, unjustified and unreasonable”.

There were other stupid behaviours including:

  • Chain-sawing through a fence when a gate was wide open a few metres away; and
  • Smashing doors that weren’t locked.

The most egregious behaviour related to the callous and intimidatory attitude of several “black role” Police officers towards innocents and to the disregard for their human rights and their dignity. It was an assault on human rights.

That behaviour displayed to the discerning eye of someone who has trained and commanded combat troops:

  • a culture of arrogance;
  • that they were over-hyped;
  • that the recruitment and selection process is poorly designed;
  • that they were poorly trained;
  • that they were poorly disciplined;
  • that they were poorly led; and
  • at the command and policy level they were poorly governed.

I am not alone in my assessment. And it is why I have called them “cowboys in black fancy dress”. They deserve the opprobrium. I am aware that some in the Defence community call them “The Keystones”.

In Vietnam we were on active service against an armed and very dangerous adversary. Yet in our “cordon and search” operations we never treated innocents with such arrogance and disregard for their rights. We did search them at roadblocks but with as much respect as was possible in the circumstances. We did remove them from the houses we searched but as respectfully as we could and never with the same shouting and pointing of weapons. People will do what you ask if you treat them with respect. It was a disciplined approach. We were never masked. Nothing is more calculated to instil fear than the mask, despite the Police’s claim that it is an operational necessity. We tried to minimise the fear. The innate empathy and friendliness  of the New Zealand soldier went a long way towards that.

There was no empathy or friendliness shown to innocents in the Police paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007. Just arrogance and hostility and intimidation. There’s a fucked up mentality behind that attitude. A serious culturally ingrained fucked up mentality.

It was reported that the cowboys in black fancy dress were given their operation orders as late as 3am on the morning of the operation. They were fed the over-the-top terrorism story almost immediately before they went into action. They went out fired up and ready to combat terrorists. Their superior officers hyped them up and set the adrenaline surging. But that is no excuse whatsoever for their arrogant and hostile treatment of innocents.

That was a function of poor policy and governance, poor leadership, poor selection, poor training, poor discipline and a serious culturally ingrained fucked up mentality.

Before the Special Tactics Group (STG) can be deployed a formal STG Request for Assistance has to be submitted.

  • Who wrote that request?
  • Who submitted it?
  • When was it submitted”
  • To whom?
  • Who approved it? The Commissioner? Deputy Commissioner? Assistant Commissioner Operations?
  • Who conducted the “appreciation” to assess the risks posed by an STG paramilitary operation to “terminate” Operation8?
  • What were the identified risks, if any?
  • Who conducted the after action debriefing?
  • Is there a written record of that debriefing?

These questions need to be asked.

The IPCA again:

“13. The Authority has concluded that a number of aspects of the Police termination of Operation Eight were contrary to law and unreasonable. In a complex operation of the type that was undertaken here, there are always a number of important lessons to be learned about future Police policy and practices. The Police internal debrief following the termination of Operation Eight has already identified a number of those lessons and necessary changes to Police training, policy and operational instructions have been made. The Authority has made a number of other recommendations in light of its own findings. This includes the need to re-­engage, and build bridges, with the Ruatoki community”.

The Police debrief and resulting recommendations did not address the real failures of Operation 8 and did not address the real shortcomings of their paramilitary policy, structure, culture, training, leadership and discipline. It glossed over all of that and seemed to focus on what they needed to do to recover from their disastrous operation, including what they needed to do to repair their relationship with Ngai Tuhoe. A major part of its deliberations were about the paramilitary uniform and concluded that the “black role” and Nomex hoods were still necessary.

It recommended that the Commissioner engage with Ruatoki and it dumped most of the responsibility for repairing the relationship on the National Manager Māori & Pacific Ethnic Services. The same Superintendent Wally Haumaha who had been deliberately excluded from Operation 8 and would surely have moderated its excesses was now responsible for cleaning up the mess.

No-one has been held publicly accountable for all of that illegal and unprofessional behaviour.

The Police have since paid compensation and have apologised to some whanau. They have apologised to Ruatoki and Ngai Tuhoe. They’ve got a long way to go yet. A new generation of Ngai Tuhoe have been given renewed reason to distrust the Police and 15th October 2007 will live on in tribal memory, forever.

Stupidity, paranoia and incompetence know no bounds. It could all have been avoided.

Me maumahara tonu matou.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The genesis of a bogus free trade agreement

This TPP agreement has its origins in and after World War II. The war realigned global power relationships and those new relationships persist into these times, seventy years later.

The war marked the end of the old European empires and the beginning of the American Empire. In rapid succession in our region the Philippines gained independence from the USA, Indonesia from the Dutch, Indochina from the French and India, the present Malaysian states and Singapore from the British. Africa decolonised.

British influence worldwide was much reduced and by the end of the war Britain was hugely in debt to the USA for loans it had used to fund its war effort. The debt wasn’t paid off until the time of Prime Minister Tony Blair. Britain was firmly locked into the American Empire while pretending to still be an independent world power.

In the Anglo-American world the USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand entered into a number of parallel military and intelligence agreements signifying that the USA was now the undisputed leader of that world. These included the Signals Intelligence UKUSA Agreement now known as the Five Eyes Agreement, the ABCA which was a military standardisation agreement, and others.

The USA led in the Cold War against the USSR and China. That gave rise to other military agreements such as SEATO or the Manila Pact, signed in 1954 and designed to prevent the fall of domino states in Asia into the Communist sphere of influence. SEATO included the old colonial powers in the region, Britain and France. ANZUS, signed in 1951, was the US, Australian and New Zealand security pact. NATO signed much earlier in 1949 became the USA-led military relationship in Europe. The USA was the dominant partner in all of them.

Throughout the Cold War the USA was also trying to bring the former European colonies under its own umbrella. For instance with the rise of President Suharto and the Indonesian military after 1965 Indonesia fell into the American sphere of geopolitical, military and economic influence. Malaysia and Singapore remained aligned through Britain and their membership of the Commonwealth. The Philippines remained allied to the USA. India and Vietnam were two that got away.

US economic dominance went unchallenged, even by the behemoth that was the Russian Empire – the USSR. Japan became a major world economy within the ambit of US influence.  As other Asian economies such as South Korea and Taiwan developed they too aligned with the US. The US also embarked with mixed success on numerous covert operations in Central and South America to lock those countries into the new American Empire.

It was an undeclared American Empire and it effectively ruled the world until China adopted state capitalism and embarked on its rapid rise as an economic powerhouse. China now challenges the might of the Anglo / European / American economic bloc.

What has changed in recent times is the ability of the USA to project its military power across the globe. It still dominates the oceans, the air and space but it no longer has the ability to dominate on land, or indeed in the South China Sea. That started with the American defeat in Vietnam but was driven home by the recent defeats in the Middle East and Afghanistan. They are not acknowledged as military defeats but they are. The USA won some battles where it could concentrate and focus its military power but it has lost the wars it started.

America’s economy still dominates, for the moment.

From World War II onwards America’s corporate might has increased inexorably and in recent decades has spread its grasp over the whole globe; globalisation. In the 2008 Global Financial Crisis caused by corporates, the corporates were still the main beneficiaries of the recovery process through massive financial bailouts. Corporates have taken control of the US political process with the billionaire Koch brothers preparing to pour over a billion into the next elections. Both main political parties are beholden to their corporate donors.

Hollywood is trying to restore its dominance in entertainment through its political connections. Jeremy Malcolm writing at the Electronic Frontier Foundation has stated that in relation to the IP provisions in the TPPA the US Trade Representative is “utterly captured by Hollywood“. The drug companies are involved in negotiating the TPPA to their own benefit, as are many others. Corporates now go to war with the military, performing many logistic and even operational functions.

The USA has become a corporatist state in which corporations now have more power and influence than citizens (who are now called taxpayers) in both domestic and foreign affairs.

The rise of the corporatist state has been greatly assisted in recent times by judicial decisions in the United States, beginning over 100 years ago, in which corporations have been granted increasing corporate personhood and the ability to assume the rights of individual persons. This has been disputed, the argument against revolving around whether or not corporations qualify as “persons” under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Even though the original decision extending corporate personhood was highly questionable (Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 U.S. 394 (1886)) the precedent was set, is now fait accompli, and corporations are making increasing use of their “personhood”.

That American notion of corporate personhood is embodied in the TPPA and is behind much of the agreement including one of its contentious elements allowing corporations to sue sovereign governments.

Having lost its total military dominance and become a corporatist state, and facing the possibility of China becoming the premier world economic and therefore military superpower, America has few options. Its last weapon in the geopolitical power struggle with China is its corporate power.

And that is what the TPPA is about. The projection of American power through corporate power and through building that corporate power in “free trade” agreements that have nothing to do with free trade.

The choice for New Zealand is not about how much NZ will benfit from “free trade”. The choice is geopolitical and about sovereignty. Should NZ remain within the American sphere of influence? And what should the terms of that relationship be? Should New Zealand allow itself to become subject to American corporate rule? And what should be NZs relationship with its present major trading and investment partner China.

New Zealand’s political and business elites have made choices for us in secrecy without any democratic debate, and disguised it within their free trade rhetoric.

Regardless of whether we should or should not be part of TTPA we should first debate its real purpose. It seems that democracy is only about the small stuff.

So why is the USA now making a few concessions on trade when for decades it has maintained high trade barriers against its allies, and why were the negotiations so hard fought? Because it needs to lock 40% of the global economy into its geopolitical strategy at the least cost to its own economy.

The primary consideration in all geopolitical relationships is, and has always been, self interest. Since the end of World War II the primary beneficiary of all partnership agreements with the USA has been the USA.

Now, if you doubt my hypothesis about the USA’s grand geopolitical strategy through the medium of trade agreements consider this:

  • the TPPA includes USA, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam (40% of the global economy); plus
  • the USA has existing agreements mostly concluded in the 2000’s with Israel, Canada, Mexico, Jordan, Australia, Chile, Singapore, Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, Peru, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Columbia and South Korea;
  • the USA is negotiating agreements with the European Union, Indonesia, Ghana, Kenya, Kuwait, Mauritius, Mozambique, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Ecuador and Qatar;
  • the agreement being negotiated between the USA and the European Union is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It is the equivalent of the TTPA; and
  • the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), still in negotiation and involving 50 countries, covers about 70% of the global services economy. Its aim is privatizing the worldwide trade of services such as banking, healthcare and transport.

The big BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are missing of course but are being counter-balanced if not surrounded by the USA “free trade” strategy. Of course the BRIC economies are also agressively pursuing their own “free trade” strategies with many if not all of the same countries as the USA.

It’s like the nuclear arms race of the Cold War only its now a “free trade” race that we might come to know as the Trade Cold War. Trade wars have long been the genesis of empires.

The European empires lasted from the 15th Century to the 20th Century and used chartered trading companies in the vanguard of the colonisation of the known world. There were scores of them including British East India Company, British East Africa Company, British North Borneo Company, British South Africa Company, New Zealand Company, South Australian Company, South Sea Company, French East India Company, Dutch East India Company and Dutch West India Company. Portuguese chartered companies included Companhia de Mozambique and Companhia de Niassa. The chartered companies controlled the global economy.

The nascent American Empire of the 21st Century  has simply borrowed and adapted an old idea to its own geopolitical strategy as it paves the way, through multiple bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, for its transnational corporations to control the global economy. This time around they are sovereign unto themselves.

Operation 8: Police Informants

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Covert informant identified

From an analysis of Operation 8 documents there were, as far as I can determine, just three or four registered and casual informants who provided information to the Police about the wananga in the Urewera in 2006 and 2007. So far just one of those informants has definitely been identified and in this article his identity is revealed. Work continues to discover the identities of the others.

The Importance of HUMINT (Human Intelligence)
Undercover agents, spies and informants

The Police stated in their affidavits seeking search warrants and interception warrants that they were not able to infiltrate an undercover agent into the wananga.

Given the extent of the information gathering operation, and the huge resources allocated to it, the number of informants and the quantity of informant information was quite small. They got some HUMINT from the small number of informants in Wellington and Auckland and virtually nothing from within Ngai Tuhoe. One of the main reasons for the incompleteness of their information and the deeply flawed analysis of that information, apart from Police incompetence, was their lack of reliable HUMINT.

Despite the mass of electronic and other information they produced they had absolutely no way of knowing what Taame Iti and the others were thinking, what was in their minds, what they were planning, and whether or not they intended to act as the Police thought they would, despite all of their intercepted revolutionary korero. In trying to predict human intentions HUMINT is absolutely necessary.

The problem is that the less we know about the minds of others the more we use our own minds to fill in the blanks. As the context in which you’re trying to understand another mind becomes more ambiguous the influence of your own perspective increases.

The HUMINT they had from their informants was sparse and unreliable. If they had not deliberately excluded Superintendent Wallace Haumaha and his network of Maori liaison officers from Operation 8 the HUMINT available to them would have totally altered their perceptions and conclusions. I have reached my own conclusion that they didn’t want their perceptions and conclusions altered by the facts.

Information gathering phases

In analysing the so called intelligence operation that eventually led to the armed paramilitary assault on Ruatoki I have divided it into four phases. The phases are convenient for determining when various police informants were active, and in an ongoing investigation to discover their identities. The phases are:

Phase 1 – From February to May 2006, during which the Police followed serial Police antagonist Jamie Lockett and his sometime employer, associate and millionaire businessman John Murphy to Waitangi, noted their new found sympathy with Maori aspirations and that they had talked with Taame Iti, monitored them at Murphy’s home in Remuera in Auckland, came to believe that Lockett at least was involved in some sort of revolutionary plot, conducted surveillance on them and a number of right wing Pakeha individuals, then switched their attention to Taame Iti and his wananga in the Urewera.

Phase 2 – From June to August 2006. Early in June two police officers travelled to the Urewera to try to locate training camps. During this time the police conducted intensive surveillance on Jamie Lockett and John Murphy in Auckland and some surveillance on Taame Iti at Taneatua and Ruatoki.

Phase 3 – From September 2006 to January 2007. On 6 September 2006 the Police watched Lockett buying bush gear and boots in Auckland and on 8 September they followed him as far as Taneatua as he made his way to the first of several wananga he attended. This triggered on 15 September the first of numerous call data warrants which were used by the Police to obtain telephone metadata and text messages dating back to 1 March 2006. In the first place they focused on Taame Iti, John Murphy and Jamie Lockett. Over the next few months they obtained call data warrants to obtain telephone information on most of the people that those three called. This was the start of a massive network building and profiling exercise. 15 September was effectively the date when the nationwide search for a terrorist network began.

Phase 4 – From February 2007 onwards. 22 February saw the first of multiple interception warrants used to place bugs in houses and cars, to video people at the wananga and elsewhere, and to place interception devices on computer servers (with the assistance of internet providers). Telephone call data warrants continued. Having built the basis of their terrorist network through network analysis the Police then concentrated on finding evidence of their guilt. Search and seizure and arrest warrants were not used until 15 October 2007. Those “termination” warrants were also used to try to find computer and documentary evidence of a nationwide terrorist plot.

As the information gathering moved through from Phase 1 to Phase 4 emphasis shifted from physical surveillance and informant information to more and more electronic surveillance. However physical surveillance by following people on foot and in cars continued throughout all four phases.

An Interview

Sometime in Phase 1 or Phase 2 a person was interviewed about activists and their attitudes and beliefs. That took place early in the Operation and does not appear to have greatly influenced the outcome although it was used consistently in affidavits used to obtain multiple warrants from the District Court.

Urewera Informant(s)

In Phase 2 and/or Phase 3 an informant provided some information about Taame Iti and another provided the dates of wananga at the end of 2006. They may well have been the same person. In both cases the information seemed to stop by about January 2007. That person may have been someone who attended just a few wananga, or who was close to someone who attended a few wananga.

Wellington Informant(s)

In Phase 3 some information was provided by an informant (or informants) in Wellington. That information related specifically to the Wellington activists who attended the wananga in 2006 and 2007. The most likely person was Rob Gilchrist who was exposed as a Police informant in December 2008.  However his handler was Detective Peter Gilroy of Christchurch and although Gilchrist did spy extensively on activists in Wellington and Auckland he was probably not working directly to Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe who headed up the Operation 8 team at Harlech House in Auckland. He was not noticed by any of the accused to be particularly interested in their activities in the Urewera.

Pascoe would have had access to the Police intelligence database of information about the Wellington activists built up over many years. That database would have included a large trove provided by Gilchrist during his many years as an informant. In the High Court in February 2012 Pascoe obfuscated when asked about any relationship he might have had with Gilchrist or whether he had access to Gilchrist’s information. He didn’t say “No” and tried not to say “Yes”.

The Wellington activists have not been able to identify anyone else who might have been informing on them. Yet.

An Auckland Informant – Keith Madden

Throughout all four phases the Police used at least one informant in Auckland, his usefulness declining as the information gathering exercise became more focused on technological information, and ceasing after he was uncovered as an informant. He was Keith Madden. He has also been known by a number of aliases. This is his story.

Madden was a long-time associate of both John Murphy and Jamie Lockett but was closer to Murphy. He spent quite a bit of time at Murphy’s house in Remuera. Lockett was also often there and lived there for a while. Madden is an intelligent man who was always in the money and had cars and houses. Until the bad times including some failed deals. In early 2006 he had serious criminal charges hanging over him and that was probably the lever the Police used to turn him into an informant.

That immediately made him an unreliable source of information. Informants, just as much as intelligence officers, need to be vetted and verified as honest and reliable, and objective observers. An informant under duress, or seeking to minimise a possible prison term, will tend to tell his handlers what they want to hear.

Whereas Jamie Lockett is extremely wary of sharing information after years of Police surveillance John Murphy tends to run off at the mouth, to elaborate, embellish and exaggerate. Lockett told Madden nothing and recalls that Madden never really tried to get any information out of him. Murphy was an easier mark and Madden almost certainly got most of his information from Murphy.

That made the Police “Informant Information” doubly unreliable. Yet it was that information that set Operation 8 in motion.

By late May 2006 the Police had heard the story about terrorism in the Urewera and sent two officers off to the Urewera early in June 2006 looking for a training camp.

Lockett went to the Urewera to the first of a few wananga he attended three months later in September 2006. He invited Madden to go with him to another wananga but didn’t tell him what it was about other than he should bring a gun for a bit of a shoot up. Madden said he would go. Lockett waited at the agreed rendezvous for three hours but Madden didn’t show and he went on his own. Whether Madden got cold feet or was warned off by the Police is not known.

Early in 2007, probably in February or March, Madden approached Rangi Kemara through Lockett. He offered to sell Kemara a fully automatic shotgun. It was probably a Police “sting” because automatic shotguns are illegal. The offer set off alarm bells and Lockett and Kemara both became suspicious. Coincidentally and shortly after the shotgun episode Lockett came into possession of a copy of a letter Madden had sent to his Police handler. He gave a copy to Kemara who told Taame Iti about it. He took it show Taame Iti on 3 June 2007, the same day that Iti received text messages telling him that the activities in the Urewera were mentioned at Police HQ in Wellington.

The letter was probably written a few months before it was discovered. It confirmed that Madden was a Police informant and that his handler had told him to get more information from Lockett rather than Murphy. The letter stated:

Look there are several big issues looming here and I am sailing through a bloody troubled straight”.

“Jm is now obviously a much larger figure potentially involved in multiple criminal pursuits than any to which I was aware”.

You were correct to steer me to continue plying jl a much safer more transparent source than jm will ever be”.

At the end of the day if this is or has the potential to be a politically opposed challenge to current or any government in NZ, or is seditious behaviour period, or some form of subversive movement based as another highly charged radical group of disgruntled Maori (using their contacts with pakeha or other ethnics or non maori and all of whom jm and jl included are ultimately one by one or if timely all become expendable) then within the pursuit of your operational objectives a goal must include discovery of defined theme agenda’s or motive I guess in detective speech”.

But more you need as explained to me to link probable multiple individual agendas with the commonality of a mutually shared proven criminal theme of agenda. A hard ask albeit even with the affront to operate a terrorist training facility in our summer playground backyard, the Bay of Plenty”.

Those extracts from the letter, in their convoluted way, show exactly what Detective Sergeant Pascoe was trying to discover and prove, almost certainly based on earlier information provided to him by Madden. It showed also that Pascoe didn’t have the evidence he needed to prove his terrorism narrative. He never did get it. The Solicitor General’s refusal to allow terrorism charges to proceed proved that.

Throughout the letter Madden raised his personal concerns about being discovered and about his belief that John Murphy was onto him and was having him tailed. He was obviously worried about it, or said he was.

Sometime after Madden’s role was discovered Lockett met Murphy in a café and told him about Madden. Neither of them told Madden what they knew. The very next day the Police whisked Madden away and stashed him in a motel in Orewa for a month, presumably to protect him from any retaliatory action. The Police often followed Lockett into cafés and eavesdropped on him and that may be how they knew. Or Murphy himself may have told them? Lockett didn’t.

That was probably the end of Madden’s usefulness. Lockett didn’t go to any wananga after June 2007 and Murphy never went. Lockett has stated publicly that he was not impressed by Taame Iti and didn’t think the wananga were his thing.

Quite some time later, after the October 2007 paramilitary operation and after Lockett’s arrest and release on bail, Lockett “hunted Madden down” and they met on Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill to the uneducated). It was a typical American TV standoff as they both stayed in their own cars for the meeting. Madden was apparently “shitting his pants” but was desperate to find out how they knew he was a Police informant. Lockett didn’t tell him and to this day he doesn’t know. Madden didn’t know either how the Police found out that he had been identified.

And that, e hoa ma, was the unreliable informant who told a fanciful tale to Aaron Pascoe, who fell for it and convinced his bosses, and over the next year or so they spun it into a nationwide terrorist plot, and convinced Commissioner Howard Broad and Prime Minister Helen Clark to sanction an armed “black role” paramilitary assault on the sleepy Ngai Tuhoe village of Ruatoki, and a few other places as well.

Operation Hi Ho Silver. And as Tonto might have said to Lone Ranger, “What you mean ‘terrorism’ Paleface?”

The Solicitor General said something similar.

Madden Letter v2
The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Tuhoe Lambert – Lead Scout

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Tuhoe Lambert

Tuhoe Francis Lambert was not a terrorist, or part of a criminal group, as alleged by the NZ Police after the paramilitary operation in which he was arrested and charged on 15th October 2007. He was war veteran, a patriot who had served his country on active service, a loyal New Zealander, staunchly Ngai Tuhoe, and a devoted family man.

The NZ Police Operation 8 team compiled shallow profiles on all who were suspects. Had they been real intelligence analysts they would have done a lot more research into their targets and could have come to different conclusions. They didn’t bother. But then, they were just amateurs in the profession of intelligence analysis.

Tuhoe Lambert remained a suspect until the day he died. He was one of five primary suspects and after he died four went to trial; the Urewera Four. I’m going to tell you something about Tuhoe Lambert that only a Vietnam Veteran can. This is the deep profile the police didn’t bother to find out.

I’m going to tell you about a lead scout in Vietnam, and about the damage that war did to those who came home. About the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that afflicted so many and does still to this day. And about Tuhoe Lambert’s struggle with that affliction. It was one thing for him to be at war for a short time in the flower of youth, and yet another to live with that war for the rest of his life. This then is a tribute to Tuhoe Lambert.

In the aftermath of his arrest he was condemned by quite a few in the Vietnam veterans’ community. At the time I urged them to suspend judgement until they knew the facts. One of the facts was that the Solicitor General did not agree with the police that terrorism charges were warranted and declined to allow prosecution. Over the long battle through the courts many other false assumptions and transgressions by the police were brought to light. This tribute should also remind us – the veterans – of the loyalty we owe each other in good times and bad.

In one sense it is also a tribute to all of the lead scouts and cover scouts who served us so well, the nine rifle companies of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment that rotated through Vietnam from May 1967 to November 1971 as part of the ANZAC battalions. A tribute to those who died, and a tribute to all of those who came home afflicted by their war in body and mind.

Tuhoe and Taame Iti had two different versions about how they met. Tuhoe said that after Vietnam he became a bit anti-war and went to the odd anti-Vietnam rally. That’s how he first met Taame Iti in the 1970s and when asked by Taame what he would do if he met Taame in the bush, fighting on the side of the Viet Cong, he told Taame he would blow his head off. There was probably an ‘f” word in there somewhere. According to Tuhoe they became firm friends from that day.

According to Taame Iti they met in Christchurch before Tuhoe embarked to join 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in Malaysia, and to go from there to Vietnam. Taame was living in Christchurch and some of the Maori soldiers from Burnham Camp ended up at his place at a party. Taame was anti-Vietnam and they had a debate about the war. He says that after Tuhoe came back home from Vietnam Taame worked with him for a few years to help him process the mental stuff he brought home with him.

I prefer Tuhoe’s version but it’s probably a bit of an elaboration and is probably based on an actual conversation. However they did become firm friends, the soldier and the anti-war protestor. That’s not unusual. Many Maori veterans went on to forge friendships and close working relationships with those who had protested against the Vietnam War. We found common cause in working together for the advancement of Maori. They were also both Ngai Tuhoe.

The Operation 8 NZ Police Intelligence team didn’t think to do a full profile on Tuhoe Lambert about his war service other than to establish that he was a Vietnam Veteran and that he was in league with Taame Iti in the Urewera. They didn’t think to do one of their background checks with Veterans Affairs.

A proper profiling by a professional team would have quickly established that like so many among our veterans’ community Tuhoe Lambert was a lingering casualty of the Vietnam War. He suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), badly, and had suffered from it from 1971 when he returned from Vietnam until the day he died in Auckland Hospital in July 2011. Forty years. Vietnam and thoughts about Vietnam lingered on in his mind, forever. They lay just below the surface and in the bad moments they rose to dominate his life. He didn’t have many good nights in that forty years.

Tuhoe Lambert was a lead scout in an infantry platoon. And young. Very young.

Scouts were selected for their skill in the field and for their skill at arms. Good deerstalkers usually made good scouts. Their skills were fine-tuned by intense training. They were a combination of hunter, stalker, tracker and marksman with lightning fast reactions. Outwardly they were calm and assured and they had a wonderful to behold swagger, born of total confidence in their abilities. But in the quieter moments of reflection after we came home some of them would talk of the fear.

As platoon commanders and platoon sergeants we had three infantry sections each of 9 or 10 infantrymen led by an experienced corporal, and including two scouts, a lead scout and a cover scout operating as a team. The scouts were our eyes and ears and we trusted them totally. Our lives were in their eyes and ears, and in their hands, trusting that they would shoot fast, shoot first and shoot straight.

Mines killed more than half of all Australians and New Zealanders who died in Phuoc Tuy Province in Vietnam where we fought together. Stepping on a mine was even more likely than running into an enemy force. The scout’s job was also to scan the ground and jungle ahead looking for any sign of mines, knowing that if he missed sign either he or someone behind him would get his legs and other pieces blown off.

It was the most stressful and dangerous job in a platoon in which every job was stressful and dangerous, just one step away from death, day after day, week after week, month after month. We rotated the sections and their scouts so that they didn’t spend too much continuous time at the front of the patrol but they nevertheless did that job for days on end, sometimes weeks on end, and they did it for the whole of their tour, usually for twelve months. Tuhoe Lambert’s V5 Company spent 270 days on operations out of the 365 days they were in theatre. 270 days when their very next step might have been their last. 270 days when their next breath might have been their last.

I often say, quietly in private conversation with my fellow infantry veterans, that we all died up there, one way or another. And I often reflect that of all of us it was our scouts who were truly the walking dead.

As master samurai strategist Miyamoto Musashi said, “The way of the warrior is the resolute acceptance of death”.

Or to paraphrase that, “The warrior first dies, then fights”.

And having survived you are never the same person again. Tuhoe Lambert survived and brought his war home with him as many if not all of us did.

PTSD is so prevalent in the Veteran community across New Zealand and Australia that it is the new normality. Many of my comrades are actively involved in welfare and support services for fellow veterans. Many of the soldiers I served with and the officers I trained with are stricken with it. It ranges from mild to severe and has no respect for age, rank and status.

There have been suicides, not many but some. Some of my friends and comrades have been and are still self-medicating with alcohol. A few of those drank themselves into an early grave. PTSD didn’t necessarily strike immediately after Vietnam. I have friends who like me were career soldiers for another ten, twenty or thirty years. The Army provided a structured environment in which war service was understood and valued. Some of my friends didn’t fall apart until they retired and lost that structure and support. Some found structure and support in their church. The NZ RSA and the Australian RSL provide more support. Quite a few veterans find their structure and support in golfing fraternities or veterans’ motorcycle clubs.

Community service especially for Maori veterans involved in the many aspects of Maori advancement provides a purpose in life that helps alleviate or distract from the symptoms of PTSD.

I have friends who are receiving psychological or psychiatric therapy usually paid for by Veterans Affairs in New Zealand or Australia, and who expect to remain in therapy until the day they die. Some of the treatment involves both therapy and drugs. With that professional support they lead full and productive, and almost normal lives. Writing is also therapeutic; keeping a journal of an examined life has long been common in the literary world as a form of self-examination and therapy, as well as creativity. Writing poetry is therapy although there are only a few warrior poets. Some find solace and outlet in painting or sculpture. Music is wonderful therapy.

Then there are the many who struggle through life untreated and often unsupported. For some of them the only support is the family and it is very tough on the families. There have been countless family breakdowns but in many cases the wives in particular soldier on living through their own version of hell supporting a war damaged husband with little more than love and tolerance. They are the true heroes. Family violence is not uncommon. I have a small number of friends who are virtual hermits, who have never returned from Vietnam in their minds and are living in a state of mental siege, some surrounded by improvised defences around their usually remote huts or cabins. One or two still carry out the standard dawn and dusk clearing patrols around their homes.

All of that is to describe the mental landscape we have lived in since Vietnam; the mindscape that Tuhoe Lambert lived in. PTSD is not a stigma. It is our normal in the mindscape we collectively live in. PTSD is not the only debilitating condition Vietnam Veterans live with for there are a wide range of medical conditions as well and Tuhoe Lambert’s health problems may well have been related to other aspects of his service, specifically exposure to Agent Orange. But PTSD is what I am concerned with in this profile.

For a long time Tuhoe Lambert had nightmares every night that would have him waking and screaming. After a time the screaming subsided but the nightmares remained. In later life he would go to sleep in front of the TV with the sound turned full on, something that usually indicates someone who is drowning out the chatterbox in the mind with the noise of the TV. A friend recalls watching him sleeping in front of the TV and said, “It was like watching someone having a fist fight with their eyes closed and hog tied”.

He had an incredibly loving, tolerant and supportive wife and whanau. He found purpose working for Tuhoe Hauora as a social worker. But for the most part his PTSD was untreated until Taame Iti took him under his wing and helped him process the bad stuff. It still didn’t go away though.

Rangi Kemara who came to know him well from 2005 onwards has commented about his good friend:

“When I was with him his thoughts were constantly on Vietnam during the day, reasoning over some of the activities they got up to and were ordered to do while he was there, and was constantly trying to retell the more humorous events that took place. His dreams seemed to revisit the place almost every night. He was a tortured soul who rarely spent a night sleeping in peace”. 

“One of his methods of dealing with it was to talk shit constantly, and for hours on end. One of the finest shit stirrers you’ll ever meet… He was funny as hell much of the time, even when we were in prison together, but when we were locked up together for 26 days, being cellmates for most of that time, it almost drove me completely batshit because I couldn’t get a reprieve from it, heh”.

“That was our good mate Tuhoe”.

Interestingly Rangi and Taame Iti were perhaps the only people outside of the veterans’ community with whom Tuhoe shared his war experiences. Veterans rarely speak of it to others, not even to family.

After Vietnam and after a couple of short adventures overseas Tuhoe came back to New Zealand and fell on hard times, mentally and financially. He married, started a family, joined a church and eventually became a pastor. As we do in the veterans’ community he stayed in touch with his comrades in arms who are another pillar of support in the sometimes turbulent mental world of the war veteran.

In the early 1990s he did some courses in psychology partly to comprehend his own condition but also to gain some qualifications. He was eventually employed in the late 1990s by Tuhoe Hauora as a social worker. He worked with Taame Iti at Tuhoe Hauora after Taame moved from Auckland back to the Urewera.

Tuhoe had a massive heart attack in 2004, the first of a series of heart attacks that led to his eventual death on 8th July 2011. He had to give up his job at Tuhoe Hauora and in 2005 moved up to Kaitaia with several members of his extended family in tow. He also had family up there. He was a dedicated family man and his extended whanau followed him wherever he went.

In this profile by Joseph Barratt in Scoop News on 12 November 2007 his eldest son Neuton reflected on his father after he had been arrested:

“Lambert is a pensioner forced into retirement due to ailing health, according to his son, 32-year-old Neuton Lambert. He described his father as someone who was “really giving and had a really big heart.”

“The family was very shocked by the arrests, said Neuton. “He was always there for his friends and family. All the cousins treat him like a dad, if they are in trouble they come and stay for months and he lends them money.”

“Tuhoe was a social worker until he got too sick to continue. He suffered ongoing illnesses and heart problems. These included a heart failure that led to a recent bypass operation. Tuhoe also suffers from diabetes.

“Neuton describes a father who used to watch rugby with him every weekend. “It doesn’t even matter what team is playing, he loved it.”

“Tuhoe is also a real movie buff and buys a new DVD every week. “He’s also pretty onto it, he reads a lot and watches documentaries on the discovery channel.”

“Support from the whanau had been great with family members traveling from as far as Kaitaia and Gisborne to support him.

“A lot of us saw him as a leader, said Neuton. “We miss him.”

“But we are a strong family and we will support him.”

Rangi Kemara met him in Auckland in 2005 shortly before Taame Iti’s flag shooting episode. Tuhoe invited him to Kaitaia to meet the whanau. They became friends to the extent that Tuhoe regarded Rangi as part of his own whanau.

From Kaitaia he would travel back to the Urewera to participate in hui about the Ngai Tuhoe claims. Rangi would drive up to Kaitaia and drive him down to the Urewera. His health was failing and he became less and less mobile. In 2006 his wife got a teaching job at Manurewa in Auckland and they moved there. It was also closer to Auckland Hospital. Rangi Kemara moved into a caravan on the property as an adopted member of Tuhoe’s whanau and to help pay the rent.

They became regular faces at the wananga Taame Iti was facilitating in the Urewera. They travelled there together and after a while the cops bugged the car and listened in to the trash talk as they travelled to and fro. Tuhoe became one of the leaders of the wananga. His specialty of course was infantry minor tactics. Just what that was about is shown in “The Probability Space – Part 5, Unravelling the Paradox”.

The best way to say what I want to say about Tuhoe Lambert’s part in the war games in the Urewera is to start with this poem I wrote a few years ago.

Vietnam Paradox

Stalking the enemy
in far off lands, steaming jungles
so far from home and safety –
month after month
in the shadow of death
and ever present fear
of punji pits, mine-strewn tracks,
and death by tripwire, machine gun,
or AK47 in hidden bunkers.
Death waiting at every cautious step.

But can you feel my son,
how totally alive we were,
living fully in each moment,
engulfed in a purity
of all the senses,
focused only on Life itself
and Life’s true companion Death –
none of the extraneous distractions
of ordinariness and everyday being,
of ordinary people
living their ordinary everyday lives.

How utterly,
how completely,

Tuhoe Lambert wasn’t preparing to fight a new war, or a terrorist campaign. He was still as he had always been, and as he later proclaimed in an interview on TV3, a patriot and loyal soldier of his country.

He was living out his old war, the one he had been living for 36 years already. But this time he wasn’t living it in his mind in the troubled night. He was acting it out. Inwardly he was reliving part of the actual experience, and outwardly showing his audience of activists and Ngai Tuhoe nationalists just a small part of what it was that he was re-living.  Tuhoe Lambert – lead scout. His audience was interested in his operational service in Vietnam and asked him questions about it. At night he talked to them about some of it and in the day he showed them a bit.

Although reliving his old war it was wrapped in the rhetoric and trash talk of his political cause, the Ngai Tuhoe cause. But in his/our mindscape he was actually reliving the experience of being part of a tight close-knit team with total trust in each other and totally reliant on each other for their lives. Brothers in arms.

And despite the ever present fear, and the shadow of death being constantly upon them, the feeling of being utterly, completely, exhilaratingly alive. If you haven’t been there you can have no idea how close it is to the very essence of existence.

In 2006 and 2007 with his heart problems, diabetes and fast failing health Tuhoe was once again living in the shadow of impending death. Tuhoe Lambert – lead scout. Out there in the Urewera bush though he would have been totally alive. They say that out there in the bush he moved again lightly with vigour and with purpose whereas at home in the city he hardly moved at all weighed down by his ill health.

The bush or the jungle is the spiritual home of the infantrymen of our era, the overhead “thwok, thwok, thwok” of the Huey helicopter its unnatural throbbing heartbeat. For most of the time though it is completely silent except for the birds and the beetles and we too lived and moved in harmony with it in total silence, communicating only through hand signals. You come to know the jungle and the bush as a world of its own and a place apart that is your place too and a part of you. If I were Tuhoe Lambert I would have been happy to die out there in the Urewera on one last patrol.

Tuhoe vented his depression, exhilaration, frustration and anger through his trash talk. That’s what he always did. Part of his mamae was about the way Vietnam veterans were treated after they came home from the war. Part of it was about the never ending struggle for justice by Ngai Tuhoe. He was staunchly Ngai Tuhoe and he followed the Ngai Tuhoe claim and settlement process closely. Tuhoe often expressed his feelings in extravagant and exaggerated ways, sometimes absurd or bizarre. That was his way. He vented. Other veterans became so withdrawn that they were almost mute, some shut themselves off becoming virtual hermits, and some found solace at the bottom of a bottle. Tuhoe Lambert ran off at the mouth. To his family, friends and comrades that was just Tuhoe the Vietnam Veteran.

NZ Police intelligence knew none of that. They took his trash talk at face value and said he was a terrorist. Perhaps because that’s what they really wanted to find, rather than a PTSD stricken and diabetic Vietnam War veteran, once again close to death.

The cowboys in black who conducted the paramilitary operation on the morning of 15th October 2007 knew none of that either, of the life of the real warrior. Unlike those cowboys who invaded his home in Manurewa in the early hours of 15th October 2007 and who then held at gunpoint him, his wife and 12 year old granddaughter, and the rest of his whanau, all of them unarmed, Tuhoe Lambert was a real warrior. He was a lead scout.

He got locked up for 26 days after being arrested. By dying before being brought to trial Tuhoe was spared the indignity of a longer time in prison alongside his two friends Taame Iti and Rangi Kemara who had supported him in his bad moments, rejoiced with him in the good, and put up with his incessant sometimes infuriating banter and trash talk. For behind the troubled mind and trash talking mouth was a heart of pure gold. The heart of a soldier, friend and comrade, loyal New Zealander, staunch Ngai Tuhoe nationalist, and a loving and much loved family man.

584865 Lance Corporal Tuhoe Francis Lambert, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment – Lead Scout. He was not a terrorist or a participant in a criminal group. He was a patriot. A wounded patriot.

In February 2015 after a long struggle in the courts Tuhoe Lambert’s whanau finally received confidential financial compensation from the NZ Police in an out-of-court settlement. It was probably not a large amount. Whilst the police have never admitted that they got it wrong about Tuhoe, and probably never will, that settlement is an acknowledgement of the unwarranted, undeserved and arguably unlawful treatment meted out to his whanau – the collateral damage.

E kore ratou e koroheketia, penei i a tatou kua mahue nei
E kore hoki ratou e ngoikore, ahakoa pehea i nga ahuatanga o te wa.
I te hekenga atu o te ra tae noa ki te aranga mai i te ata
Ka maumahara tonu tatou ki a ratou.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Kei wareware tatau.
Lest we forget.

E Tuhoe haere te tamatoa haere,
No reira e te rangatira haere, haere atu ra.

He maimai aroha tenei na
Major (Retired) Ross Himona,
Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

Tuhoe Lambert – Collage

Links: The Operation 8 Series

“Te Karere” news clip – Annette Sykes and Taame Iti remember Tuhoe Lambert

Hikoi ki Afrika: A Maori in Mali

Birthplace of the Blues

In 2005 when UNESCO asked me to go to Mali of course I said “Yes”.

It was to a pan-Afrikan conference that was one of a series of regional UN conferences leading up the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) at Tunis in 2005. The first WSIS had been at Geneva in 2003. In May 2003 I had attended and spoken at the UN Asia Pacific WSIS Pre-Conference in Tokyo. I challenged the conference orthodoxy and got myself noticed.

It wasn’t that I was important at all. I’d been a member of the local NZ UNESCO Communications Sub-Commission and managed to be part of the NZ delegation to Tokyo where I’d spoken briefly as part of a panel discussion. Someone in UNESCO thought my korero might be relevant to the Afrikan conference. Right place at the right time. The UNESCO conference at Bamako, the capital of Mali, was themed “Multilingualism for Cultural Diversity and Participation of All in Cyberspace”. I spoke on “Fostering the Creation of Local and Indigenous Content”.

The conference was not the main event for me. It was very interesting and I met interesting people from all over the globe but it was my first (and only) time in Afrika and I saw it as a small pilgrimage to the birthplace of humanity. It was only a short visit confined to a single city in West Afrika but a visit that remains vivid in memory.

At The Travel Doctor in Auckland they treated me like a pin cushion with multiple vaccinations. It reminded me of our deployment to Vietnam in 1967 when they pumped into us every vaccination known to mankind; except the one that would prevent death by blast or bullet.

Getting there was a bit of a hassle. We had to get visas from the Embassy of Mali in Paris but because of the short lead time quite a few of us didn’t have time to go through the three month bureaucratic process. So UNESCO HQ put us on a plane from Paris hoping to sort it out on arrival in Bamako. A leading Afrikan academic involved in the conference got it sorted and we were all shepherded through border control sans visa and boarded a bus for the city.

Bamako is like a lot of the world’s cities. Impressive boulevards and buildings in the centre, leafy suburbs in the inner city, a market or markets located near the city centre, the rich and powerful living in the cooler hills, and most of the population living basic lives in basic houses and huts on the outskirts. My first impression of Afrika, apart from the airport, was driving through those outer less endowed suburbs.

The smell hit me first. I don’t mean a bad smell. A different smell. Well it probably smells bad to people who haven’t travelled much. Have you noticed that different countries and different cities have their own distinctive smells? Sometimes the smell changes as the country or city develops and modernises. A long time ago, the early 1960s was when I  first made the trip, the pungent smell of tanneries on Botany Road was the first smell of Sydney on the way from the Airport to the CBD. The tanneries have long since been banished. Singapore today smells nothing like it did in 1965 when I first went there. They’ve both been sanitised.

Driving into Bamako I was instantly reminded of the first time I arrived in Malaysia in 1965, forty years earlier. That was my first time in a different country other than New Zealand and Australia. We were driven by bus from Singapore to Melaka and our Commonwealth Brigade base at Terendak and it is the smell that I remember most from that night as we drove through the tropical countryside. Steaming decaying vegetation, steam rising from the road, the lingering scent of exotic fruits and flowers, muddy rice fields, mud wallowing buffalo, and the pigs, dogs and chickens ubiquitous in South East Asia and Oceania. The smell of diesel fuel from the trucks and buses and Mercedes taxis. And in the villages and towns the smoke from cooking fires and the strong aroma of strange new foods.

The smells of Bamako were different but the impact was the same. Dust rising, it smelt a dry land, the base smell something like the smell of the Australian outback in summer but different. Dogs and chickens. We drove through ramshackle rows of shops. Open drains and uncollected rubbish. Old Mercedes and Toyotas and diesel fumes. Smell free handcarts. And a whole new and interesting assortment of cooking smells. This was an older smell than the smell of Asia and Oceania and Australasian cities. Like the smell of old people and their lived in houses but different. It said, “Welcome home pilgrim. This is what you will smell like 60,000 years from now when your new lands have grown old and dry. Don’t wrinkle your nose. Welcome home”.

That’s what happens when you let your nose hear for you. You hear unsaid things.

As if to counter the dryness and brownness of much of the landscape the women of Afrika set the place alive with colour. Strikingly rich colour. Their dresses and headscarves ablaze in reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos and violets. The browns too are rich browns. The streets and shops and markets are set alight by the women of Afrika. And as if the lightness of colour creates a lightness of spirit the public spaces are alive with the beautiful smiling black faces, the cheerful chatter and gentle laughter of tall, sinuous, slender, graceful Afrikan women. The men are colourful too by the way.

How much richer we would be if our streets were alive with colour instead of the blacks and browns and dark blues of our streetscape.

I brought as much of that colour home with me as would fit in my suitcase. A pile of different Afrikan materials. My London domiciled daughter waylaid me in Paris on my way home and carried away as much as I could bear to part with. I still have it, my treasure trove of colourful cloth, taken out of the drawer in moments of reflection upon my hikoi ki Afrika. I hear still the chatter and the laughter. I hear too the music of Mali.

In modern musicology mythology West Afrika is said to be the birthplace of the Blues. It may well be true. The Malian bluesmen have indeed had an impact on modern world music but I think they got their new version of their ancient music from Amerika. I love the Blues and the music of Mali. Boubacar Traore and the late Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita and Toumani Diabate were already some of my favourite musicians before I went to Mali. I didn’t get to see them perform but I did manage to get to two concert performances, one modern and one traditional. It is one thing to listen to your collection of recorded Malian music but something else again to be at live performances in the place of origin. Quite magical.

The Jeli (French griot) of Mali are a traditional caste of professional orators and musicians and singers. Their kora is a stringed instrument usually accompanied by a variety of drums. It is from these instruments that it is said the Blues originated, and that the call and response Blues style of music originated in West Afrikan singing. Since the 1950s they have added the guitar, both acoustic and electric, to their repertoire. Modern Afro-pop is very popular in Europe. The men don’t have it all their own way for the Malian divas are also hugely popular.

There is deep sadness in this music as well as joy and exuberance. From here in West Afrika came a large number of the 12 million poor souls who were sold into slavery in the New World from the 15th to the 19th Century. They were robbed forever of their heritage, their languages and cultures and kept only the remembrance of their music. It became the Blues, the R&B and the Rock ‘n’ Roll of my youth that reached out to the world and travelled back again to Afrika.

In this former French colony French is the official language and Bambara the most widely spoken. There are about twelve other indigenous languages that are considered “official” languages. The modern songs are in both French and Bambara. Although only about 20-25% of the people speak French the music is also aimed at an appreciative audience in France. On the streets of Bamako the language is mostly Bambara but you can get by with your rudimentary French, and mine is indeed rudimentary. Communication is part of the delight of travel. In the market some speak English but not many.

After the people it is the sights, the sounds and the smells that set different places apart. I hadn’t really met any people yet.

Apart from hotel staff the first I got to know was a really nice guy. After a good night’s sleep the first thing I did was to hire a driver with an old Toyota to show me the city. He wanted to take me along the standard tourist route but I pointed to the highest hill overlooking the city and asked him if he could drive to the top. He didn’t know, so with much encouragement and financial inducement he set out to find out something new about his old city. Initially reluctant he soon got into the swing and became a willing participant in my adventure. He was still worried about his car’s suspension though. We eventually found a track and wound our rocky way to the top.

Bamako 03

A view from the lower slopes. Bus depot in the foreground and the city centre far beyond in the hazy background

Far below our feet was the main bus depot with dozens of parked green buses and stretching away from us into the distance was the quite beautiful and relatively modern city of Bamako sitting astride the ancient Niger River. Down there was a teeming mass of modern humanity and up on the hill almost total silence and as I wrote in my journal the “remembrance of a timeless land”. Down there were just over 2 million people who had evolved from ancient hunter gatherering bands who had roamed across and lived lightly upon the ancient land beneath our feet.

These modern West Afrikans descended from the same people as the East Afrikans who were the ancestors of all of the rest of us on Earth.

Across the way on another hill was the luxurious abode of the President, surrounded by the buildings of government agencies. One could imagine the French colonists appropriating to themselves the best hill in town, to look down upon the seething masses. And on another hill a hospital in splendid isolation. I wondered how many of the people down there had access to that hospital or was it reserved for the wealthy, the great and the powerful. The Mosque, clearly visible in the middle of the city, was down on the flat among the people.

We watched as women slowly climbed their way around the cliffs and up the steep hill laden with the day’s shopping from the market. My guide didn’t know where they lived or where they were going and we couldn’t see any houses.

There were cows and goats foraging for food amongst the stunted straggly dry country trees clinging to life in the dust amongst the rocks. The country reminded me a bit of summer in the Canberra region of Australia, and of the dry country where we did our military manoeuvres when we were training at the Royal Military College so long ago. Australia too is an old land and the culture of its indigenous people is said to be the oldest living continuous culture on Earth. What then of these Afrikan cultures in this even older land, in human terms.

You can learn a lot about a city from its highest hill.

It was just a two day conference. Most of the speakers were from out of country telling us mostly about the latest linguistic and technological innovations in creating multilingual content for the Internet. The Afrikan delegations by comparison spoke mostly about their specific needs. Apart from the Afrikan korero I’d heard most of it before and I amused myself by trying to follow the French translator rather than the English. Until the leader of the French delegation spoke.

He was a French government minister and he started speaking in English because he said English was the most common language at the conference. Almost immediately one of his bureaucrats interrupted (in French) and roundly chastised him for breaking French government protocol by not speaking French at an international event. She was quite severe in her criticism. He told her to sit down and shut up and delivered the rest of his speech in English. I thought it was hilarious.

Later that day I met her in a workshop event. She greeted me in French and I responded in Te Reo Maori. She said “Je ne comprend pas”.

So I asked in broken French that as France had colonised East Polynesia perhaps she spoke Tahitian, a sister language to Maori. “Non”.

I then told her I was fluent in Bahasa Indonesia and asked if that was one of her languages. “Non”.

So I asked if English might be a language we had in common. “Let’s speak English” she replied.

We got on well and she was a nice person beneath the French chauvinism. She saw the humour in our initial exchange.

Many of the out of country speakers spoke to or at the Afrikan people or to each other. In my korero I tried to speak with them; Oceania and Afrika being similar continents in a way. You’ll have to read the speech to work that one out. It seemed to strike a chord and I was befriended by a senior Malian delegate, the professor who had smoothed our way into the country. He taught at a university in another Afrikan country but was obviously closely in touch with affairs in Mali. He was a gentleman in all respects, and an intellectual of mana in his own country. He was great company and it was he who directed me towards the musical performances I attended in the evenings.

I don’t know that the conference achieved anything or if the main World Summit (WSIS) in Tunis achieved anything either. I think many international conferences are for the benefit of the people that attend rather than the countries they represent. They flesh out resumes.

It was soon over and we had a day to spare and to explore the city. A multicultural and multilingual group of us led by a small but intrepid Malaysian professor with a big camera set off. We made sure we had enough fluent French speakers in the group to smooth our way. After a bus tour of the city we arrived at the market. It was alive with crowds of local people buying anything and everything they might need. Perhaps a thousand stalls. Wending our way through the many alleys we were immersed in a sea of colourfully clothed people and they seemed to have a heightened sense of respect for personal space despite the crowding.

In some places in the world people intrude into your personal space and in others no less crowded they don’t. Voiceless rudeness and politeness sort of.

A short walk took us to Marche des Artisans, the Artisans Market close to the Grand Mosque I had seen from the hill. This was less crowded and seemed to me to be a place mainly for tourists. Hundreds of stalls where artists created and sold jewellery, paintings, carvings, musical instruments, leatherwork, sculpture, ironwork and every other form of art to be found in Bamako. It was very interesting but touristy and I bought nothing. I went back instead to the main market to a fabric shop I had noticed and bought a large and stunning piece of fabric I had seen earlier. And a whole pile of different fabrics. My remembrance of the colours of Afrika.

My Malaysian professor friend got us into trouble with some of the locals by trying to photograph their Grand Mosque without permission and after a bit of a standoff the Police rescued us. That was the end of our excursion. He was from a Muslim country. He should have known better.

I would love to have visited and stayed at the legendary Muslim city of Timbuktu to the north. I would love to have met up there some of the nomadic Tuareg people of the Saharan and Sub-Saharan region. It is said that their skin has a blueish tinge from the indigo dyed clothing they wear. All I have instead is a piece of indigo dyed cloth.

In 2012 in three separate developments Tuareg rebels declared a new state, there was a coup d’etat in Bamako, and Timbuktu was overrun by Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups, some of them pushed out of Libya and Tunisia after the Arab Spring. There was fighting between the Tuareg and the Islamists and in 2013 the Islamists were defeated by French armed forces. Peace was brokered with the Tuareg but life in Northern Mali is still fraught. Much sadness in a beautiful country.

I had trouble leaving Mali because I didn’t have a visa to be there in the first place. My new friend the professor came to the rescue again and saw me onto my plane.

Back home, from the sublime to the mundane.

The trip helped get rid of a bad case of sciatica. For months before I was in constant pain and there was no way I could travel like that. I found a very good physiotherapist and he gave me an exercise regime to realign and strengthen my core musculature. He told me that he couldn’t fix it but that I could. He also said that 90% of his clients were too exercise averse to fix their own problems. I got the point. I hit the Swiss Ball for a couple of hours every day and was soon in a fit state to travel. After the trip I continued with the regime and haven’t had any lower back problems since.

It’s amazing what the right incentive will do. Mali attended to my soul, and fixed my back. And ten years later I still haven’t decided what to do with all that fine cloth. Perhaps it’s time to deck out my granddaughters in the colours of Afrika.

Mali Cloth

A table cloth or bedspread perhaps. I still haven’t decided.

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 5

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Military manoeuvres in the Urewera – unravelling the paradox, a paradox being a proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.

But first, to recap a little about the Intelligence process.

Having gathered as much information as you can you then explore into the possibility space. What does or what could all that information mean about future intentions. There is rarely one single interpretation that can be drawn from the available information. What therefore are all the possibilities. I did this in “Operation 8: An exploration into the possibility space”.

Following that the Intelligence analyst should then explore into the probability space by examining the probability of each interpretation in order to verify or disprove assumptions drawn and conclusions made. That process will often show up gaps in information and may often show the need for further information gathering. At the end of it the most likely scenarios or interpretations are proposed by the analyst, most often qualified by probability ratings. That is, what is the relative likelihood of each interpretation. Total certainty is rare in the field of Intelligence analysis.

President Obama was given a range of probability ratings by various advisors on the assessment of Osama bin Laden’s location in Pakistan before he made the decision to launch an operation against him. A CIA team leader said 95% and others thought as low as 30%. He was offered such a wide range of probabilities that he could only conclude that there was perhaps a 50/50 chance that the analysis was correct. Fortunately the odds were with him. 

That’s what happens in the real world of Intelligence analysis. The decision maker needs to know the probability before he or she makes the decision. The decision maker needs to demand a probability analysis.

None of that exploration, analysis, verification and probability rating was done by the Police Intelligence team running Operation 8. Instead from an early point in the operation they made some assumptions, drew a single conclusion, and then set about trying to collect enough evidence to gain terrorism convictions based on those assumptions and conclusions. It became an investigation driven entirely by narrow minded tunnel vision rather than intellectual enquiry and analysis.

On the night before the paramilitary operation in the Urewera was launched Police Commissioner Howard Broad briefed a meeting of senior cabinet ministers including Helen Clark, Michael Cullen and Annette King. Dr David Collins the Solicitor General was also present and according to Annette King he assured them that the Terrorism Suppression Act could be used, presumably based on Commissioner Broad’s assurances about the quality of the evidence. There is anecdotal evidence that John Key was also present. At that meeting Michael Cullen was the only one who expressed any scepticism about the Commissioner’s assertions and he reportedly asked Howard Broad several times to affirm that there was planned terrorist activity. Each time Broad affirmed. He professed to be 100% certain.

Then he later said that he had no evidence of an immanent terrorist event and that he acted to “nip it in the bud”. There was no probability rating. None of them at that meeting lived up to their governance responsibilities.

This is the fifth in the series of explorations into the probability space. So far in my exploration I have looked:

  1. at the implications of the fact that the suspects knew they were under surveillance,
  2. at the shortcomings of the Police interpretation of their video evidence,
  3. at understandings of Ngai Tuhoe and their culture regarding firearms, and
  4. at the probability of the existence of a “Plan B” for an armed uprising as alleged by the Police.

All of these cast doubt on the Police terrorism narrative that they maintained throughout their Intelligence process (Operation 8).

It was a narrative that morphed from terrorism into a criminal group narrative as it wound its way through the long drawn out battle through the courts from 2007 until 2012. It was the narrative presented to the High Court in February and March 2012 as evidence to convict the “Urewera 4” on relatively minor arms charges, but not on the criminal group charge. The full-blown terrorism narrative that became the lesser criminal group narrative did not survive the court process, eliminated at the final hurdle – the High Court jury.

That the narrative did not survive the court process is a direct reflection of the quality of the Intelligence operation, the intellectual ability of the minds that produced it and those that subscribed to it.

The paradox

There still remains a body of evidence that shows that at least part of the activity at the “Rama” or wananga in the Urewera over about a twelve to eighteen month period involved firearms and military style manoeuvres. And associated with this activity was a lot of revolutionary korero. This episode of the exploration into the probability space looks at that activity and korero.

As we consider the “evidence” of military activity and revolutionary korero we should also remember that:

  1. this activity was not covert and often in full view of the Ruatoki community although some of the participants acted as though it was covert (by wearing balaclavas and using cover names);
  2. there was no attempt to hide the fact that people were travelling to the wananga in the Urewera from all around the North Island on a regular monthly basis;
  3. communications between the known participants were mostly by insecure means even though the leaders of the wananga knew they were under surveillance and even though Taame Iti had been told that the Police were watching the activity;
  4. there was no attempt to hide the presence of firearms by, for instance, conducting all of the military type activity far into the interior of the Urewera;
  5. a number of those firearms were acquired openly from licenced dealer with no attempt at all to conceal the purchases.

All of that leads to the paradox that became the terrorism narrative; a paradox being a proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.

The role of the professional Intelligence analyst is to recognise the paradox when it arises and then to resolve it. If the paradox cannot be resolved then there can be no justification to act upon it. It was neither recognised nor resolved by the Operation 8 analysts. Perhaps the greatest failure of the Operation 8 Intelligence analysis was in not recognising the obvious paradox. Tunnel vision can do that.

My challenge here is to unravel the paradox. I’ll start by trying to put the whole thing into some sort of context. It is a context much wider than what the Police were able to comprehend through their very limited expertise and limited information gathering operation.

I discovered as I tried to unravel the paradox that all of that wananga activity wasn’t as coherent and coordinated as one might expect if it was really directed towards a definite plan of military, terrorist or criminal action. It became clear that the participants didn’t really have a clear idea what it was all about, and that some of them projected their own interpretations and expectations onto it. In fact all of that wananga activity was quite unfocused until about August 2007, throughout most of the Police Intelligence operation. The Police gave it a focus it just did not have because they wanted it to have a focus.

That didn’t help my own investigation at all. Pity the Police officers trying to make sense of it. Not. They didn’t even try.

The Ngai Tuhoe claim

The Ngai Tuhoe grievance and claim is well documented and does of course provide the historical context to the wananga in the Urewera but perhaps not in the way that the Police understood it.

Not everyone in Ngai Tuhoe supported the negotiating process led by Tamati Kruger and others. So one of the key drivers behind the negotiation process was to garner as much support as possible within Ngai Tuhoe and to maintain that support for as long as it took to negotiate a settlement. “Te Kotahi A Tuhoe” was the body mandated by a majority of Tuhoe to negotiate the settlement and it needed to retain that mandate for as long as it took. The inclusive structure and consultative process of Te Kotahi A Tuhoe was the main means.

The wananga would have been another, albeit minor by comparison. The wananga was not established by Taame Iti but by several of the kaumatua of Ngai Tuhoe quite some time before it came to the notice of the Police. One of the key figures was the late Te Hue Rangi. I understand that Tamati Kruger himself had attended the wananga on an occasional basis. It was not a rogue Taame Iti initiative. Whatever happened at the wananga had to be sanctioned by the kaumatua and when he took on a leading role in the wananga Taame Iti was not an entirely free agent. One thing is 100% certain and that is that the kaumatua were never going to sanction anything that might derail the negotiation process; including training for armed uprising or revolution.


It is obvious from all of the Police surveillance evidence that what Taame did was to widen the influence of the wananga by bringing in people from around the North Island.

In December 2006 for instance a support group called “Te Kotahi A Tuhoe Ki Poneke” was formed in Wellington. This new group gathered up some Ngai Tuhoe and quite a few of the Wellington activist community, some Pakeha. Many of them became regular participants at the wananga. They brought with them the Police surveillance that had been upon them since at least the formation of the Wellington Special Intelligence Group (SIG). They also brought with them into Operation 8, but not into the wananga, a Police informant who had been active amongst them.

Taame had quite a bit earlier invited Te Rangikaiwhiria “Rangi” Kemara who was the IT manager for my business in Parnell Auckland. Rangi was and is an IT expert who had been one of the early members of the Maori Internet Society that I formed in the 1990s. By the time he started going to the wananga he had become a collector of militaria, especially firearms. He had a current firearms licence. In fact my business partner was one of his referees when he applied for the licence.

He was buying from gun dealers mostly on lay-by and also buying other militaria from TradeMe. As his employer at the time I thought he was spending far too much of his salary on his new hobby but I didn’t say anything. I’m a twenty year soldier and a Borneo and Vietnam veteran myself so I understood his new found passion. He had joined a gun club and had started his bush weekends, partly to try to keep his weight down and partly to indulge his new hobby. When he was invited by Taame to join the wananga he took his hobby with him.

That’s how many of the firearms the Police identified actually joined the wananga. They labelled Rangi as the “armourer”. Based on the salary I paid him he wasn’t going to do much arming. The fact that some of the firearms used at the wananga belonged to him was coincidental; he had a licence and he owned a few and most of the others didn’t own any.

A lot of the intercepted korero was Rangi talking firearms and ammunition. On the one hand, the hand the Police preferred to play, that could have indicated that he was indeed the “armourer”. On the other hand it was definitely an indication of his collector’s obsession. Collectors tend to be obsessive. He used to talk to me all the time about his hobby.

Another of my employees went on all day every day about the “Warriors” (the league team not the revolution). I think I preferred the firearms korero.

Taame Iti collects people. He networks. He collected Rangi Kemara who is not Ngai Tuhoe. He also collected up John Murphy, an Auckland based millionaire used car salesman who had discovered a passion for supporting the Maori cause and had begun to fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag over his house in Remuera. In collecting up Murphy Taame also collected Murphy’s bodyguard Jamie Lockett. It was a fateful invitation for Lockett had long been involved in a running feud with the Auckland Police and with Detective Sergeant Phil Le Compte in particular. Operation 8 began as an operation aimed at Lockett, Murphy and others and shifted to the Urewera after Police linked Lockett to Tame Iti. This time Taame collected a whole new and very dangerous group of covert Auckland based Police into his network.

Throughout 2006 and 2007 Taame Iti continued to bring in other people, mainly Ngai Tuhoe, from around the North Island. These travelling people were the ones the Police focused on because they identified few others. However over the years most of the wananga participants were locals. The Police saw very few of them.

The locals

For some years Taame Iti had been working as a social worker amongst Ngai Tuhoe, both paid and unpaid. His clientele were mostly male, quite often disconnected from community and disaffected. I remember once that he brought a van load of them to Auckland to get them out of the bush and to give them a taste of the outside world. We won’t discuss how tasty that was. The wananga would have been an ideal means of reconnecting those people to community.

A few of his clients were Vietnam War veterans, often afflicted by PTSD. Taame has related to me how he listened to their stories, some of them quite horrendous, as they unburdened their souls and as he helped them cope with the PTSD. Tuhoe Lambert who became a primary Police suspect was one of those. Tuhoe Lambert also collected people and one of those was Rangi Kemara who became part of his whanau, especially after Tuhoe moved from Kaitaia to Auckland. A few of those war veterans were taking part in the wananga during the time of the Police surveillance but Tuhoe Lambert was the only one positively identified by them.

My information suggests that there might have been a few hundred participants in the wananga over the years, most of them locals or from the surrounding district. There is no indication that the Police really knew how many had attended the wananga, who they were, what they did and what they said. The Police identified only a few of them in addition to their main suspects, the travelling out-of-towners.

So that’s who some of them were and how they got there. What were they doing?

Standing on a ladder and looking the Crown in the eye – asserting the Ngai Tuhoe right to bear arms on Tuhoe lands

Throughout almost all of the period of Operation 8 Taame Iti was entangled in the courts. In January 2005 he staged the fiery welcome to the Waitangi Tribunal and shot a flag on the marae. He was charged in February 2005, finally went to trial and was convicted in June 2006, and had his conviction overturned by the Court of Appeal in April 2007. That whole legal battle provides background context to the presence of firearms at the wananga.

Whilst for the judicial system the flag incident may have been about an alleged criminal offence, to Taame Iti and many others it was about the right of Ngai Tuhoe to bear arms on Ngai Tuhoe land, in this case on a traditional marae. I have written in detail about that in “Probability – Part 3”.  That prosecution was also in part about a Police belief that a marae is a public place in terms of the law. The Police later tried to argue in court after 15th October 2007 that multiply-owned Tuhoe land was also public land and not private land. Legislation is very clear about what the Police may or may not do on private land.

It was all about mana. In bringing firearms into the wananga at the same time he was fighting his legal battle about the use of a shotgun on a Ngai Tuhoe marae Taame was asserting his right, and the right of Ngai Tuhoe, to bear arms on Ngai Tuhoe lands. I wrote this in “Probability – Part 3”:

“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!”

As unlikely as it may seem – private military contracting

I mentioned earlier that whatever was going on had to be sanctioned by Tuhoe kaumatua. I understand that there also had to be consensus among the participants and there was that consensus up until about September and October 2007. That was when it became known to them that Taame Iti was bringing in private military contractors (PMC) with Iraq experience to train and assess people to be employed as PMC. Prior to that the military activity had been conducted by Tuhoe Lambert and others and did not have that edge of reality.

In October 2007 when the professional PMC was brought in many of the travelling activists disassociated themselves from that aspect of the wananga. It is likely that they would have stopped attending because of that. Some or most of them were peace activists and totally opposed to any involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan. Taame Iti must have known that they would leave and perhaps he intended that they should.

The Police did not give any credence to the evidence that behind much of the military activity was Taame Iti’s hope that he could find employment for a few of his people as private military contractors in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Dhafur. It ran counter to their preferred terrorism narrative. It runs counter to what most people would expect. But Taame Iti is not most people. He thinks different. He thinks weird at times. He plucks ideas out of the ether. But the evidence was there. After talking with some of the wananga participants it became clear to me that most of them were not aware of that employment intention until late in the piece.

When Taame found out probably sometime in 2006 that two ex-servicemen brothers related to his partner Maria were private military contractors a weird idea found him. He started talking to them about employment for some of his people. Before anything came of it one of the brothers deployed back to Baghdad for a few months in the middle of 2007. In the meantime, while they were still talking and while one of them was in Iraq, Taame had Tuhoe Lambert and a few others start some basic military training in the wananga. For perhaps a year prior to August 2007 the training was just the general military skills applicable to many types of activity including private military contracting. It was intermittent training in that it was only a monthly activity, some monthly wananga were cancelled, and attendance was patchy. Hardly a programme for serious terrorism.

In August 2007 Taame Iti had Tuhoe Lambert take it up another level and introduce specific personal protection skills including the protection of vehicles. Because of Tuhoe’s general ill health the training was shifted to a flat area at Ruatoki. Prior to that wananga Tuhoe wrote out a lesson plan for the whole weekend. The Police recovered that and interpreted it as terrorism training.

Taame knew that Tuhoe might not make it to the wananga. Taame later told me about how he worked with Tuhoe at other times and how they would periodically park up in a secluded spot so that Tuhoe could have a power nap to recover some energy. He was not a well man.

So Taame had Urs Signer prepare some training scenarios just in case Tuhoe Lambert couldn’t make it to the August wananga. The Police recovered that and interpreted it as terrorism training.

“So we arrived Friday night, and the usual night wananga began cept this time it was with Tuhoe sharing his time in Vietnam, and people asking him why he went there, all that anti-war stuff. He was awesome, very patient with people who were asking him quite pointed questions. 

“His training was close quarters protection, spotting threats in a crowd, moving your VIP out of harm’s way.

“We were supposed to come dressed in our flashest clothes, bodyguards. Some did, me, all I had was a flash pair of jeans and an All Black teeshirt. The anarchists did a clothes bin raid and got themselves some even more drabby looking clothes, the Tuhoes came in their flashest oilskins…

“So that didn’t work.

“But that was the weekend. I don’t know if Tuhoe was aware of the bros [Taame’s] fuller plan, but he certainly fulfilled his part of it”.

The September wananga was to be a continuation of the August training.

“Typical of the bro, September which should have been part two of Tuhoe’s wananga, got interrupted because the bro [Taame] brought in a whole lot of newbies who barely knew how to hold a gun. 

“So the rama got split into two, newbies, and those that had been at August camp.

“Tuhoe took the August lot in stage one of a vehicle contact drill, exfilling a disabled waka.

“One of the other Tuhoe took the rest through basic whatever they did, I wasn’t with them, I’d guess it was safety, and seeing how they moved as a group, and how they could deal with difficulties, the stuff we went through the year before.

“Anyway, it was a wash, but those of us that did Tuhoe’s module were wrapped, even the anarchists, because at least Tuhoe had an activist’s bent along with his training stuff, and his patience with people. Good trainer”.

At that point the training took a different path as Rau Hunt arrived back from Iraq and was available to take the training or assessment to a new or different level.

“After the September wananga, it became clear as day, that the objectives of the wananga were starting to form, and that was employment for his people … “

Taame then planned to have a dual wananga in October with Tuhoe Lambert and Rau Hunt as trainers. He told Tuhoe by text message on 5th October 2007:

“gt some new t/o coming on board next rama”.

The Police reported that:

Mr Iti goes on to advise that the new t/o was apparently from Baghdad but confirms that Mr Lambert would still be in charge”.

In the same exchange of messages Taame Iti advises Tuhoe Lambert:

We may have mahi for them in Africa. Four of our guys”.

Indicating that four people might be employed as PMC in Africa. And:

Have hui with new t/o”.
“They coming this weekend with plan for Rama”.

As it happened Tuhoe Lambert was too ill to attend the October wananga. He was on his couch in Manurewa. His place was taken by another unidentified Vietnam veteran but Rau Hunt was the main trainer. His approach was totally different to Tuhoe Lambert’s as he was there only to present his version of PMC skills and to preselect people for further training. I have interviewed Rau Hunt and have no doubt whatsoever that his only purpose in attending that wananga was to see if anyone there would be suitable to join a PMC team with him. He was not even remotely involved in training anyone for terrorist or criminal purposes.

Tuhoe Lambert’s training had been less focused, was apparently a lot more activist friendly, and did not challenge the “anarchists” beliefs. Their beliefs were challenged by the obvious shift in emphasis and the new hard edge that Rau Hunt brought to the wananga in October.

There were two separate groups at that wananga because quite a few of the “anarchists” broke away and did not want to have anything to do with specific PMC employment training. Ironically one of those who broke away at that time was one of the “Urewera 4” who eventually faced trial. Had the Police not intervened with their 15th October 2007 paramilitary operation the split in the group would probably have brought that whole series of wananga to an end.

There was definitely not the unity of purpose that the Police alleged and maintained right through to the trial of the “Urewera 4” in 2012.

“The October rama was a challenge for me cause I wasn’t interested in working in that field either”.

The Police obtained warrants for their paramilitary termination operation on 10th October 2007. Annette King, then Minister of Police, said that cabinet ministers were briefed in the “days before the raids” but not about the manner they would be carried out. She later said that meeting took place the night before the raids. The final wananga took place on 12th and 13th October. That meeting took place on 14th October. The Police did not recover the video footage of that October wananga until after their paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007.

Even if they did recognise the significance of that October evidence, that it clearly indicated PMC training, they never admitted it but instead tied it into their original terrorism/criminal group narrative.

Why did the peace activists attend anyway?

For a long time I was somewhat perplexed as to why a group of anti-war and peace activists would spend so many months attending wananga involving firearms and military training. So I asked Wellington activist Valerie Morse that question and the answer made perfect sense although it was completely unexpected. She had been brought up around guns by her American father and had no problem with firearms themselves. It was war she had a problem with. I also got the impression that she enjoyed running around the bush doing that stuff. I can understand that.

The lesson there is not to project your own preconceptions and stereotypes onto other people.

And so to the revolutionary korero

The “compelling video evidence” might have been the centrepiece evidence presented to the courts (and the media) after the arrests but it was the voice intercepts that shaped the Police terrorism narrative during Operation 8. It was also the voice intercepts included in a leaked Police affidavit that excited the media. After the event when the Poilce had gained access to some logs from an encrypted chatroom they added those conversations as evidence but it was not available to them as they prepared the analyses that led to the paramilitary “termination phase” on 15th October 2007.

Taken at face value, and disregarding the contradictory evidence, a lot of the korero they intercepted truly did indicate serious intention to commit acts that could be classified as terrorism within the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002. Some of the original eighteen accused claimed the Police selectively “cherry picked” the korero they presented in affidavits to obtain warrants, and later as evidence. They most likely did but taken at face value that evidence was still alarming. One would expect however that the bulk of the korero they intercepted was boring chatter.

In the Crown indictment against the “Urewera 4” who were the only ones to eventually face trial they were charged with participation in a criminal group with objectives alleged to be one or more of the following:

  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Intentional damage
  • Endangering transport
  • Wounding with intent
  • Aggravated wounding
  • Discharging a firearm or doing a dangerous act with intent
  • Using a firearm against a law enforcement officer
  • Committing a crime with a firearm
  • Kidnapping

Most of those alleged objectives were gleaned from the voice intercepts and from chat room conversations, some supported by the Police interpretation of their video evidence.

The Police did take that revolutionary korero at face value, did not take note of the contradictory evidence they had collected, and didn’t bother to spend time verifying the conclusions they drew from that korero. Without the benefit of their expert Maori officers who would have known how to find out what was really going on they probably had no way to verify any of it.

In court the prosecution made a point of telling the jury that the korero was not just “pub talk” but expressed genuine intent. They were right in that it wasn’t just “pub talk” but wrong in not understanding what it did mean.

From my vantage point knowing what I knew at the time, being a military expert, knowing many of the participants, and having access to information unavailable to the Operation 8 analysts I have to start my own analysis from the point of view that what was alleged by the Police was nigh on impossible, despite the incriminating revolutionary korero. I have detailed in previous posts why that was so.

I am saying that the revolutionary korero had to have been bullshit, regardless of how incriminating it sounded and even if some of the participants believed it. There is too much contradictory evidence for it to have been real. I have been listening to it and reading it for decades now and to my ears it automatically registers as bullshit.

At the trial in 2012 defence witness and law professor Dr David Williams was much more diplomatic. He had been involved with indigenous people and indigenous issues in Aotearoa New Zealand and in East  Africa. The gist of part of his verbal evidence as he remembers it (1st September 2015) was that:

“I did say something in court to the effect that rhetoric that sounds “revolutionary” to most New Zealanders is really the standard narrative of colonised peoples campaigning for self-determination. This was a reflection  that goes back to my time living and teaching in Tanzania (East Africa) in the 1970s when I met and mingled with many involved in the peaceful transition to independence in Tanzania [then Tanganyika] and Uganda as well as some of the more militant members of African liberation movements. Such ‘revolutionary’ anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist language in my opinion, and my experience, did not and does not entail an option for armed struggle as the only or the preferred pathway to liberation”.


Then there’s the fear factor that noone talks about.

Behind racism lies deep seated fear. Fear of Maori. That in itself is a paradox. Maori are the losers. Maori are the marginalised, the poor, the unemployed and the imprisoned. The colonised. The dispossessed. The losers. But still we are feared.

Arising out of the colonisation and dispossession and our present staus in New Zealand society is our culture of resistance. Not acceptance but resistance. The so called Maori renaissance, the decades of land rights, language and cultural activism, Treaty activism and Treaty settlements; these are all expressions of resistance. In my schooldays in the 1940s and 1950s Maori resisted schooling and the bending of the mind to the Pakeha worldview. It was an expression of resistance and its effects are still being felt today in schooling under-achievement.  Even high levels of Maori offending and imprisonment are in their own way expressions of resistance.

Accompanying that resistance from the 1960s to the present day has been the revolutionary korero, the hyperbole. A couple of years ago I spent days on end in the library reading back through the newspapers of the period. At the height of the activism in the 1970s and 1980s the revolutionary korero was reported in the media almost every week, reported with alarm, reflecting Pakeha outrage. And fear. Despite relative powerlessness Maori possess the ability to strike fear in the hearts of men. Fear of the other, the different, and fear that we will surely one day regain all that was lost. Fear that somehow they will lose. The gains of the last three decades have been accompanied by mostly subdued but deep resentment. It’s a visceral subconscious fear.

In days of old the haka served to strike fear into the hearts of men.

These days the haka has become commonplace and no longer has the same impact. In these modern times from about the 1960s onwards revolutionary korero has taken its place. Revolutionary korero is an evolved form of the haka. It works as did the haka of old. It arouses the passions of the dispossessed. It strikes fear into the hearts of men. It’s meant to. Politicians, media, right wing bloggers, Police officers, judges.

The whole country witnessed fear in action on 15th October 2007. Armed, helmeted, masked, booted, black clad fear. Ka mate, ka mate , ka ora , ka ora.


A lot of the korero was just about anger. There was talk at various times of assassinating George Bush, Helen Clark and John Key. I would venture that millions of people in the Western world speculated about the desirability of President George W. Bush’s demise.

Helen Clark angered a great many Maori in 2004 when she legislated to extinguish any possible claim to the seabed and foreshore. It did after all lead to the formation of the Maori Party and the loss of some of the Maori electorates. That was the peaceful result but many Maori did at the time wish her a great deal of personal harm. She angered a few Tuhoe with her reluctance to engage over their principal claim and no doubt a few did wish her dead. That’s just how anger gets expressed. It indicates anger rather than intent.

I suppose assassinating John Key just sounded like a good idea at the time. I think the present mantra, “Don’t change the flag, change the Prime Minister” has more class.

A lot of angry, way over the top korero was directed towards the Police. There are good reasons for that and I will examine that later.

Distrust, antipathy and antagonism towards Police

Out here in Te Ao Maori there remains a great deal of distrust, antipathy and antagonism towards the Police. A lot of it has deep historical roots in events such as the invasion of Parihaka by the Armed Constabulary in 1881 and the invasion of Maungapohatu by armed police in 1916. Some of it relates to more recent events such as the use of Police to break up occupations and protests, the killing of Paul Chase in 1983, the killing of Terrence Thompson in 1996 in what some saw as an extra-judicial execution, and the killing of Steven Wallace in 2000. The arrest and charging of Taame Iti on arms charges in 2005 was the most recent.

This lingering antagonism, even hatred, remains despite attempts by the Police in these recent times to improve relationships with Maori and Maori communities with greater engagement through their iwi liaison officers, and through cultural training at the Police College. The training seems to have had only limited success.

The Ngawha prison protests and demonstrations in 2002 set all of that back at least in the activist community. At those legitimate demonstrations poorly led, out of control Police officers deliberately assaulted demonstrators, including those who were trying to video them carrying out the assaults. Some demonstrators were charged and there were further demonstrations at a later date outside the courthouse. The Police again assaulted several of those including a lawyer who was trying to enter the courthouse to represent her client.

Some of those who were present at Ngawha attended the wananga in the Urewera a few years later, their antagonism towards the Police undiminished.

That antagonism is also rooted in widely held perceptions of deeply entrenched racism in the New Zealand Police. Police racism is just part of the reality of the lives of many Maori. That’s the main reason for the establishment of the Iwi Liaison Officer network. The ongoing antagonism was evident in much of the revolutionary korero intercepted during Operation 8.

An aspect of policing that generates deep seated antagonism is the methodology they seem to be taught; intimidation, confrontation and domination. One can understand the need to dominate in situations where things could get out of hand or even dangerous but for many Police officers it becomes the standard way of dealing with people, especially Maori. Bullying.

In part it results from a misunderstanding or misreading of certain situations. These days the Police seem to regard every protest or demonstration as potentially dangerous and are heavy handed from the start. A recent instance was their openly wearing and displaying tasers at a peaceful demonstration. It also demonstrates a high degree of arrogance and that gets up many New Zealander’s noses.

Many Pakeha Police officers, notably the younger officers, seem to be fearful of Maori and act to dominate from the beginning of any encounter. Fear of Maori is a factor behind a lot of racism and a lot of inappropriate Police behaviour.

It has to do with mana and the need certainly in Maori culture to respect the mana of each and every person. Many Police officers do not seem to understand or have any regard for the mana of those they come into contact with. They trample on mana. Taame Iti expressed it in a piece he wrote for “The day the raids came, stories of survival and resistance to the state terror raids” (2010, ed Valerie Morse, Rebel Press, Wellington). This extract says it all:

“Koutou i haere mai nei
Koutou nei i haere mai nei
Ki Tuhoe”

“Ko wai koutou?
No hea koutou?
Kua haere mai ano koutou
Ki te takahi o te mana o Tuhoe”

In my experience anger generated by Police racism and by heavy handed policing and the trampling of mana is very often expressed in extreme language and I recognised it in the Operation 8 transcripts. Many of the participants including Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert, Rangi Kemara, the “anarchists” and others had little reason to love the Police.

Talking to the Police

A lot of the korero was about killing policemen. The question is, were they talking about the Police or talking to them. I think it was a bit of both.

Police surveillance of individuals was going on from about June 2006, mostly obtaining call records and text message records from telephone companies, with quite a bit of physical surveillance. It seems to have increased exponentially in April 2007 with voice intercepts mostly from bugs planted in cars; one car in particular.

From about May or June 2007 that car had a small note stuck to the sun visor on the passenger side warning that the car was probably bugged. I can verify that. Yet the flow of incriminating intercept continued. Why was that?

A lot of that korero to the Police was about the background antagonism towards the Police, anger about Police surveillance, venting, blowing off steam, up-you bastards korero. The Police obviously thought it was always about them, not sometimes to them.

Bullshit (or hyperbole)

There’s still a strong element of bullshit.

Operation 8 and the bullshit started with Jamie Lockett and his long running feud with the Police. From a distance the behaviour on both sides could only be seen as a mutual obsession. They were tailing him and intercepting him and harassing him and he was baiting them. He was known to have threatened Police. His linking up with Taame Iti led the Police to the Urewera.

A text message from Jamie Lockett to John Murphy on 31st December 2006 illustrates the level of obsession and antagonism:

“Just letmy daughter know Death is in the air. Fuk Nz & fuk the police. Some1 is going2 die”.

On 23rd March 2007 a conversation between Lockett and an unknown female was intercepted. Lockett said, in part:

“Ah well I’m training hard to take on six men very quickly. I’m training up in to be a very, very vicious dangerous commando”.


In November 2007 Lockett was reported in the media:

“Lockett said he could not recall making a “vicious commando” remark attributed, but had some recollection of the other comments. But he said those remarks were simply an angry reaction to an earlier arrest”.

Probably true given the record of his relationship with the Police.

However, given the mutual obsession between him and the Police that bullshit korero and more like it would have been enough for them to set out after him yet again.  I understand they’re still at it in 2015.

Networking through revolutionary korero

It is difficult to reconcile the volume of revolutionary korero with the lack of any capability to mount a revolution, and indeed the lack of serious intent to mount a revolution. That perhaps is at the core of the paradox.

The korero came from Taame Iti himself, Tuhoe Lambert, Rangi Kemara and others and was spread throughout the whole group over many months. New members seem to have been attracted to the “Rama” by that korero and many of them clearly believed it. In some cases I think that private fantasies were simply reinforced by the korero. I’ve been around long enough to know that the fantasy is alive and well in the minds of many wannabe revolutionaries. As I’ve written in an earlier post many of them mistakenly look to Taame Iti as the revolutionary leader. Mind you he hasn’t done much to dispel that belief even though he doesn’t subscribe to it himself.

So they seem to have collectively woven an aura of revolutionary mystique around a revolution that didn’t exist.

It reminded me of a technique I developed in the 1980s and 1990s to build a loyal and involved readership around my “Te Putatara” newsletter in its print version. I developed a fictional conspiracy of the “Kumara Vine” pitted against the Establishment including the Department of Maori Affairs. It was written to include my readership as co-conspirators, reinforced every month with snippets and reports from the frontline in Wellington, from the Maori Intelligence Agency and from the Dungeon Bar. It reported on real people and real events but the conspiracy was pure bullshit wrapped around fact; delightful and entertaining bullshit though. Both my Maori and Pakeha readers loved it; most of them.

The revolutionary korero building a revolutionary mystique around a revolution that didn’t exist is typical of Taame Iti’s own sense of bullshit; sorry Taame – hyperbole and theatricality. But it was a theatrical narrative built upon real history and real aspirations, real mamae and real anger, against a background of a real effort to finally achieve some sort of negotiated resolution. The revolution was the bullshit bit. We will explore the anger later.

Repulsing another invasion

Throughout the whole body of intercepted texts and conversations there is a theme of needing to repulse an attack on Ngai Tuhoe by the Police, probably by the Special Tactics Group (STG) and possibly assisted by the Army’s Special Air Service (SAS). This korero has been around Ngai Tuhoe for generations; i.e. “they came for us before and they’ll be coming again”.

Presumably that scenario would be the result of failed negotiations and a declaration of secession by Ngai Tuhoe from the state of New Zealand. Most unlikely but I can think of no other scenario that might be thought to provoke an armed attack on Ngai Tuhoe. Other than the egregious boneheaded one that actually occurred on 15th October 2007. It was sad case of a self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps.

Regardless of its unreal potential that theme was definitely behind most of the revolutionary korero. It was a most unlikely even fanciful scenario and the leading figures in the wananga knew it. As I’ve written earlier however many of the participants did seem to believe it.

Maori police as trash talk interpreters

The Police and prosecution discounted any thought that all of the above might have been “pub talk”. They were 100% right. But it was “trash talk”; revolutionary trash talk. I’ve heard a lot of it in my time but not perhaps on the scale depicted in the Operation 8 intercepts. It is usually confined to the street, leaning over the fence at the marae, or in these modern times to text messaging, email lists and chat rooms. I’ve been watching it in its online version for about twenty years now.

In a future post, a tribute to Tuhoe Lambert, I’ll write about the master of trash talk and some of the reasons for it.

The sad thing about all of this revolutionary trash talk is that if the Police had brought in Superintendent Wallace Haumaha and his network of iwi liaison officers they would have suspected that it was trash talk and would easily have found out what was going on. The whole fiasco would have been averted. And it was a fiasco; a two sided fiasco.

Why were they not brought in at an early stage? Why were they not brought in at all? Why were they specifically and deliberately excluded and why was that exclusion endorsed and authorised by the Police Commissioner himself? Incompetence and ignorance definitely. Racism probably. Paranoia for sure. There’s been a lot of that around both before and after 9/11.

The paradox remains, only partly unravelled

Incompetence, ignorance, racism and paranoia can render one blind to the existence of a paradox, a paradox being a proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.

I’m sure that I’ve not fully unravelled the paradox. I’ve pulled out many of the threads and still there is ambiguity. But the analyst has to learn to be comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. The situation in the Urewera was ambiguous and uncertain and the paradox was real, unrecognised and unresolved by the Operation 8 team.

They reached instead for an interpretation that gave them a sense of unambiguous certainty despite contradictory information.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

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

#scatpoem by #3twitterati #onsundaymorning

Brown Buy

Russell Brown @publicaddress
Original Ralta styles.
$5 at #avondalemarkets.
Just had to.

David Joesph Dobbyn @davidjdobbyn
Now all you need
is a matching Crockpot & fondue set

Russell Brown @publicaddress
Do not tempt me.

David Joesph Dobbyn @davidjdobbyn
Reckon you’d find ’em in Paeroa
in one of those choice antique stores

Te Putatara @Putatara
@publicaddress @davidkjdobbyn
You should enter it in the flag contest.
Cord and all.

Russell Brown @publicaddress
An old mate has washed up in Paeroa
and is running one of those stores.
It sounds amazing: Temuka by the ton.

Russell Brown @publicaddress
@Putatara @davidjdobbyn
That, sir, is an insightful suggestion.

#lol #rofl #wtf #end

Copyright @publicaddress @davidjdobbyn @Putatara