Category Archives: Operation 8

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 3

Ngai Tuhoe and their Firearms

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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

So.

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

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

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

City vs Country

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ngai Tuhoe Firing Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sir John Turei’s Tangihanga 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shooting the Flag 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

Te Hue Rangi’s Tangihanga 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owhakatoro Marae August 2007

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

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

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

The Paramilitary Operation 2007

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

Looking Back 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 2

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links:

Extract from the Brief of Evidence
The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 1

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now here’s an important part of the conundrum.

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

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

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

There was no effective security around those wananga:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did they panic? And go off half-cocked?

Links: The Operation 8 Series

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

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Epilogue – a Question in Parliament

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Sandra Goudie MP

This question in Parliament by Sandra Goudie MP on 10 April 2008 might have been an attempt to link me into Operation 8. Ms Goudie might have known that my office was raided. On the other hand it could have simply been a friendly inquiry, but it doesn’t read as though it was. She seemed to be fishing for something. I then monitored Ms Goudie’s parliamentary pronouncements in case she breached my suppression order under parliamentary privilege.

3045 (2008). Sandra Goudie to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector (10 Apr 2008):

“Has Ross Himona or Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara had any involvement with the Department of Internal Affairs during the establishment of the CommunityNet website or Flaxroots technology conferences; if so, what did that involvment entail?”

Hon Ruth Dyson (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector) replied:

“I am advised that as is recorded on the Flaxroots website, www.flaxroots.net.nz that Ross Himona provided papers to the 2000 and 2002 conferences and was on the Steering Committee for the 2002 conference. The Department also advises that neither Ross Himona nor Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara has been an employee or contractor of the Department”.

The answer was incomplete as I was also a community representative on the committee that designed the CommunityNet website with the Department of Internal Affairs. In fact I also worked closely with but not for the Department in relation to the Global Networking Movement.

Interestingly on 11th May 2009 this appeared on the Whaleoil blogsite sun by Cameron Slater:

“Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara is allegedly the ‘master at arms’ of the Uruwera 17. He faces arms charges. His image (photos of him) are suppressed although a Google search can find his image. To date no-one can officially link the name and his alias’.

He is the IT Manager for Kingston Strategic. Kingston Strategic has had contracts with MED on digital strategy and Internal Affairs to establish the CommunityNet website and the Flaxroots technology conferences. At this stage it is unknown how many other Government Contracts his firm has worked on – or if he has ever worked for Axon under an other name apart from Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara. Axon have categorically denied he has worked for them when known as Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara.

“Note about Kingston Strategic: The Chief executive is Ross Himona, who once wrote of Don Brash: ‘I’ve seen and experienced a lot of racism in my 62 years, but never such a full-on poll driven cynical assault. And I realised just yesterday that my own overwhelming response is fear as well. I realised that I’m frightened about the consequences of that policy, and of the choices I might have to make that I don’t want to make, if they try to implement it.’”

Given slater’s known close links to National Party MPs it is quite probable that he provided the information prompting Sandra Goudie’s question.

So just to put the record straight I would have added to Ruth Dyson’s answer for Ms Goudie’s edification:

“Major Himona is a retired military officer who served his country on active service in Borneo and Vietnam, and who also served as an intelligence analyst. He was awarded the Armed Forces Award for exemplary service. He has since been a businessman and community worker, and has worked with many community organisations. In that capacity he worked with the Community Development section of the Department of Internal Affairs on the CommunityNet, Flaxroots and Global Networking projects. He  has also been an adviser to Ministry of Education on an IT Advisory Panel, and was consulted by Ministry of Economic Development on Digital Strategy for Maori.

His contributions have been much appreciated. He is a valued member of the establishment and a pillar of society”.

So there’s your answer Sandra Goudie, whatever it was you were fishing for. You could have found that information without the question in Parliament, unless you were just doing a bit of parliamentary shit stirring.

Six months earlier it was obvious the police hadn’t done their homework either.

Film Review: The Price of Peace, Taame Iti & Operation 8

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Director Kim Webby

The NZ Film Festival billed this film as an in-depth profile of Taame Iti and that it is not. But it is nevertheless a powerful and moving film about a defining chapter in his life and I do highly recommend it.

It is the story of Taame’s arrest on 15th October 2007 accused of terrorism, his subsequent trial in 2012 along with three others, and of events surrounding and subsequent to the arrest and trial. The film does traverse some of his life from his infancy and schooling in the Urewera, leaving home to become an apprenticed tradesman in Christchurch, and on into later life as an activist and Ngai Tuhoe nationalist.

Taame himself told me after he had viewed the film that it did not capture the essence of who he is; nor have any of the tens of thousands of words written about him over the years, or the many documentaries and TV news items made about him. That in-depth profile, one that does show who he really is, is yet to be made. He has plans afoot to ensure that it will be made.

As well as Taame’s story it also recounts the history of the blighted relationship between Ngai Tuhoe and the Crown, and documents the settlement Ngai Tuhoe has recently reached with the Crown. The two separate but closely related stories were unfolding in parallel as the film was made. Both stories are told in historical and contemporary contexts. On film Tamati Kruger relates that he and Taame agreed at the time that the events of the long drawn out court process would not be allowed to affect the settlement negotiations with the Crown. In the film however the two strands are interwoven, the one a reflection of the other.

A personal aside. I found a comment by Taame in the film quite amusing. It was in relation to the activists, mainly Wellington based, who came to the Urewera in 2006/2007 to support the Ngai Tuhoe cause and to attend the weekend “Rama” or wananga he was running, called military training camps by the Police. When I interviewed Taame recently he spoke quite fondly of the activists and of the pleasure he obtained from exchanging ideas with them. In the film he referred to them as “anarchists, vegetarians and fundamentalists” which may not exactly please them but I’m sure was not meant to offend. The funny bit is that I’m a vegan myself and before I interviewed him Taame shouted me a delicious vegan salad for lunch. I wonder if he lumps me in with the fundamentalists! I suppose in his eyes I might be a hard core dietary fundamentalist.

I like Taame Iti. He has a unique way of looking at the world and at events. He has an interesting and creative mind and is never boring. He presents ideas through artistic or theatrical metaphor and symbolism although he can be verbally adroit as well. It is reminiscent of old time Maori use of metaphor and symbolism in everyday speech as well as in formal oratory, through voice, movement and gesture; a style now largely lost to antiquity. His style shines through in the film if you can move beyond the preconceptions almost everyone has about him.

Part of Tamati Kruger’s evidence during the trial was shown. I was in court in 2012 when Tamati was in the witness box and I remember it well. In his evidence for the defence he explained that Taame was a leader among many leaders in Tuhoe and that his role was to explain the Tuhoe viewpoint. In doing so he often made people uncomfortable. In fact he often made Tuhoe people uncomfortable and he often made Tamati Kruger uncomfortable as well. I thought it was a great moment in the film. Perhaps because I like the way Taame Iti makes people uncomfortable. In my own way I try to do the same I suppose, without the theatricality.

In 2006 and 2007 he obviously made the Police and Helen Clark uncomfortable too.

At the screening I saw at Sky City Theatre in Auckland on Wednesday 22nd July 2015 the theatre was about three-quarters full. Kim Webby spoke briefly afterwards. She acknowledged her upbringing at Opotiki and her closeness to Ngai Tuhoe, and that her mentors in matters Tuhoe have been Tamati Kruger and Taame Iti. She also acknowledges that this film is intended to present a Tuhoe perspective. That does not detract at all from the quality of the film.

The earlier screening of the film on Sunday 19th July attracted a sell-out audience including, I am reliably informed,  the 2012 trial judge Justice Rodney Hansen and his wife. Taame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Tamati Kruger and Taame’s trial lawyer Russell Fairbrother were also present.

In relation to Taame’s story there are other scenes from the trial in 2012 including the reading of the charges at the beginning, and at the end of the trial the haka led by Taame after Justice Hansen sentenced him and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara to two and a half years in prison on various arms charges after the jury had not been able to reach a verdict on criminal group charges. Urs Signer and Emily Bailey were not sentenced at that time and later received nine months’ home detention. The criminal group charge that the jury could not agree on had been substituted for the terrorism charges that the Solicitor General would not allow in 2007. Justice Hansen in his summing up, partly shown in the film, clearly believed the evidence presented to support that main charge, and gave great weight to that evidence when sentencing on the lesser arms charges. He believed that the activity in the Urewera was evidence of an “armed militia” intended to be used as “Plan B” if “Plan A”, the Tuhoe settlement negotiations, failed.

The film crew followed Taame during the trial and captured his thoughts and feelings as the trial unfolded. There were many thoughtful moments and some quite humorous. Throughout it all, and afterwards, Taame steadfastly maintained his innocence. The film did not delve into the evidence at all, other than to show parts of it as it was presented to the court.

I have been analysing the police intelligence operation for over three years now, and based on information I have been able to unearth and on interviews with some of the participants in the wananga including Taame Iti, I believe that he was innocent. I will be writing more about that in future essays. The film however does not show any evidence to support Taame’s assertion of innocence.

Intertwined with Taame’s travails was the history behind the Ngai Tuhoe claim against the Crown and the progress of that claim. The film concluded with apologies made in both of those strands.

Firstly there were apologies made by Police Commissioner Bush to the whanau affected by the police paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007, to the Ruatoki community and to Ngai Tuhoe. His welcome to Taame Iti’s home and his apology to Taame’s whanau was shown in full. The response of Maria Steen, Taame’s partner and a victim of the operation, was deeply moving. The Commissioner’s apology seemed to be heart felt and genuine. However it must be noted that no-one has yet been held to account for police behaviour on that day. During this scene in the Iti home Taame told Police Commissioner Mike Bush that if the Police had wanted to know what he was doing they could have simply knocked on his door.

Commissioner Bush later made it clear that he was not apologising for the arrests and that he believed the police were right to bring the charges against Taame and his co-accused.

The second apology was the official apology made by Treaty Minister Christopher Finlayson on behalf of the Crown as part of the settlement that was eventually reached. In that settlement Ngai Tuhoe effectively gained a measure of autonomy over Te Urewera after battling the Crown for generations. The denouement of the film came in the juxtaposition of those two separate apologies.

This was a powerful and moving telling of the two stories told as much through the feelings and emotions of the participants as through the facts of the events. It led us through the anger and the grief, through the prolonged physical and psychological resistance and the resilience of Ngai Tuhoe, to a touch of optimism after the settlement and a ray of hope for a different and perhaps a better future for Ngai Tuhoe people.

Taame seems content to focus now on his art and his art gallery in Taneatua as he contemplates life after the struggles. When I met with him he seemed at peace, accepting of the price he has personally paid.

“The Price of Peace”

Director: Kim Webby
Producers: Christina Milligan, Roger Grant & Kim Webby
Photography: Jos Wheeler
Editor: Cushla Dillon
Music: Joel Haines

“Price of Peace” on Facebook

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Government is Hiding the Truth Behind the Serco Debate

The State Operated Prisons are the Real Problem

The View from the Inside by Guest Blogger Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara

On 15th October 2007 I was one of the eighteen political activists arrested in the Urewera Terrorism Raids, or Operation 8. While waiting for the laying of terrorism charges, we were detained in various remand prisons around the country. Some of us spent up to 28 days inside before being released on bail awaiting trial.

Four of us, the so called Urewera Four, eventually went to trial. Taame Iti and I were convicted and sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison, while Emily Bailey and Urs Signer were sentenced to 9 months home detention.  On the grounds of exceptional behaviour Taame and I were both released after serving about ten months. I spent that ten months in the state run Spring Hill Corrections Facility while Taame was shifted to Waikeria Prison.

What I want to discuss here is my experience in Spring Hill and to some extent in the remand prisons in relation to the current public outcry about the standard of the Serco private run prison because the Serco debate is diverting attention from the atrocious standard of management in state run prisons.

Firstly some terminology

For the sake of this discussion, I will refer to the Mt Eden prison as Auckland Central Remand Centre (ACRP or A-Crap as it was known to us), and the privately operated Mt Eden Prison as Mount Eden Corrections Facility (MECF). I spent about three weeks in each of these prisons, not long, about six weeks in total, but long enough to see what was going on.

A Remand Prison is a prison where either people awaiting trial, or convicted and awaiting sentencing are held.

Sentenced Prison – once sentencing is completed, remand prisoners are sent off to any one of this country’s dozen or so prisons to begin their sentence. I spent ten months in one of these prisons called Spring Hill at the northern side of Waikato.

Prison Violence

Prior to my time in prison, I held a some views on the role of prisons, and on prison reform. Many of these views remain, but a few have changed – smashed and discarded due to my experience as a guest of the state.

  • Prisons are the way they are because the public is largely uninvolved, and is not actually interested in what goes on inside.
  • Most of the general public don’t actually care about what happens to prisoners – they get what they deserve … unless violence is put in the public face, as in the recent Serco revelations.
  • The Justice System is determined by politicians who are keener to get re-elected than fixing up a dysfunctional prison system.
  • Many of the groups that do engage with the Justice System to advocate for adjustments to the way prisons are run, are often self-serving and/or ideologically driven (i.e. Sensible Sentencing)

Prison violence has been around ever since there was a) violence, and b) prisons. These are the sources of violence that were observable during my time inside (from least to worst):

  1. Gang recruitment and on-going training (UV)
  2. Prison justice (UV)
  3. Understaffing (AV)
  4. Overcrowding (AV)

I also separate these into two categories in terms of what I believe prisons can do to stop violence – (AV) avoidable violence and (UV) unavoidable violence.

Unavoidable Violence. So for example, while there are ways for a society to mitigate the conditions that cause the proliferation of gangs and the black economy, for example through a fairer society and by undoing some of the prohibitions, these things cannot be solved by a prison system, so they constitute unavoidable violence (UV).

Gang Recruitment and on-going training (UV)

People might be surprised that I list this as the least of the sources of violence.  Firstly it is unavoidable violence that comes part and parcel with the society that generated the disparities that lead to the emergence and propagation of gangs.

While societies continue to create the conditions for street gangs, prisons will only perpetuate their longevity and ongoing recruitment. I saw this with my own eyes, to some extent in ACRP/MECF and in full bloom in Spring Hill Corrections Facility (SHCF).

In order for gangs to survive the onslaught of targeted policing decimating their numbers at large, they use your prison system and your tax money to recruit and train the next intake of manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and security (foot soldiers). The gangs regenerate themselves inside the prisons.

Whether by organised fight clubs to train foot soldiers to do the muscle work, or the more common method of one on one mentoring, your tax dollar is being put to good use by gangs for their objectives. Corrections in its history in this country has never been able to prevent this from occurring, whether under National or Labour, in either private or state run prisons.

This type of daily violence is what I would call Jail.

In prison it is normal, and works in some totally fucked way to make prison very uncomfortable for many, discouraging them from ever wanting to be there again. While I am not advocating for it, this is certainly one of the residuals from this constant level of physical biffo that goes on daily.

In most instances though, gang violence via recruiting and training was isolated to potential gang members, and to hardening the psyche of their current members while awaiting their inevitable release.

Prison Justice

People joke about it all the time. Yunno, ‘ha ha ha don’t slip on the soap’, in reference to the general public’s view of what is prison justice, i.e how easy it is to get raped in prison. But prison justice is a real component of all prisons around the world. And prison justice is no laughing matter. Prison justice = violence.

In this country it shows itself in that almost all child molesters end up in the segregated wings (Segs). As soon as it becomes known that someone is incarcerated for child related crimes, they are summarily beaten and that gives them grounds to complain and therefore be reassigned to Segs.

The general public are in two groups on this issue: Group 1 – those who have no clue and don’t really care anyway, and Group 2 – those that know and think it’s acceptable. So to some extent society tolerates prison violence. I myself also tolerated this without question when I saw it in prison.

Other ways prison justice is meted out though are not so palatable.

Prisoners who rat out one another or take a deal in some form or other, are also given the same treatment. Prisons actively encourage narking, so this form of violence is very common.

There is a third type of prison justice, and it is not well known until you have seen it or experienced it with your own eyes, and that is if a prisoner is rich, they will be tapped in every way shape or form for their resources. For the rich this is of course not justice, but to poorer prisoners who have no financial support outside of prison this is their form of prison justice to get one back on rich pricks.

Under staffing

Contrary to the popular misconception prison guards, or ‘Screws’ as they are known inside, cannot be everywhere all the time. This easily allows for what people saw in the so called ‘fight club’ videos that made sensational headlines in recent news.

These mock and semi controlled fights are usually over and done in a matter of minutes, the time it takes for the screws to do their rounds and come back around again. Sure some of the screws turn a blind eye, but mostly it’s just vigilant prisoners who learn the routines of these under staffed prisons.

Spring Hill prison is chronically understaffed by comparison to ACRP & MECF at Mt Eden, by a country mile!

This is in part due to overcrowding of prisons intended to have x amount of staff per y amount of prisoners. Most of the under staffing related violence rears its head during school holiday periods when prison staffing run at a skeleton level.

The only way Spring Hill prison coped with this during my time there was to employ long lockdown hours when staffing levels were low. In many wings this meant 23 hours a day locked down, and one hour outside. For lower security units this meant 20 hours locked down and 4 hours outside. Adding to the stress of these long lockdowns are the number one cause of violence in Spring Hill, and that being the following…

Overcrowding

Spring Hill Corrections Facility was built by the Labour Government and completed in 2007 to house 650 sentenced prisoners. Its initial focus was on Pacific Island prisoners, hence it has a Pacific Island focus unit called Vaka, and a Pacific Island church.

With the change of the incoming National government in 2008, the government then embarked on putting more people in prison, 1000’s more than they had bed spaces for. The then Minister of Justice Judith Collins concocted this grand idea of replacing the single bed cells in Spring Hill (and other prisons to some extent) with bunk beds. I bet Collins thought this was a clever cost saving idea, but it however led to a massive and fatal rise in violence. Every prisoner I ever spoke to pointed without hesitation directly back to that one event as the principle catalyst – deliberate over crowding.

Spring Hill now has 1050 prisoners inside cells in facilities designed to be uncomfortable for 650 prisoners. This results directly in a new level of violence that is not isolated to the world of gangs and their training regime. Everyone is susceptible to the violence that ensues from Collins’ intentional overcrowding.

Whether waiting for the one unit telephone, or microwaves, or the two unit washing machines, the result is a daily high level of anxiety that is far above and beyond the intended stress levels prisoners were meant to be under while incarcerated. After weeks of these extended lockdowns, Spring Hill turns into a sort of war zone that makes those so called fight club videos look like child’s play.

In fact, for me, both Serco’s ACRP and MECF were holiday camps compared to the violence I saw daily in Spring Hill.

You have one hour outside, there are 88 of you in a unit, you have a pile of clothes that need washing, there’s two washing machines, which some of the time, at least one of them is broken. There are usually about 1 or 2 working microwaves if you want to cook some soup or porridge, and there is a single telephone for you to call loved ones. The 88 of you have one hour to bang your way to the front of the line to get your washing done.

Sound like fun?

Then once that one hour is over, you are back in your cell with another grown man for the next 23 hours, eating, showering and shitting together (the toilet is in your cell). This is the cause of the other overcrowding related violence where prisoners just get sick of seeing each other’s faces for 20-23 hours a day, and after a week or so of this even the best of mates are ready to scratch each other’s eyes out.

Further exacerbating this are weather conditions.

Spring Hill cells are not insulated and are mostly what you would call outside cells. So in winter temperatures drop to zero in cells overnight, and rise above 30 degrees during the day, over 40 degrees if the prison is on lockdown with 2 persons in a cell.

The air intake in each cell and air extraction were designed for a single prisoner in a cell where most of the daytime they would be outside. During summer’s long lockdowns we would be clawing at the air intake for fresh cooler air until temperatures dropped to a sleepable level at about 2am in the morning.

Winter was just as bad where the only place you could keep warm was on the floor in cells where the floor warmers actually worked. About half didn’t work so huddling under layers of clothes and blankets was the order of the day.

Overcrowding is also the cause of a lot of the medical mistreatment in Spring Hill. The medical centres are under staffed and struggling to cope with the extra 400 prisoners. Added to this is an attitude amongst some of the medical staff that providing crap medical is part of your punishment. This attitude extends to doctors as well who if they tried to pull that shit anywhere else would be had up for malpractice.

Medical do not attribute the stress they encounter in prisoners to overcrowding, but instead become immune to it, showing no concern for prisoners who sometimes have to wait for up to 3 months before receiving medical assistance. This leads to prisoners with preventable health issues ending up in hospitals with chronic health issues.

One such case was a young man in my unit who had breathing issues. His cell mate pressed the emergency button at about 2am to report this, and medical staff arrived at about 7am (as in, when they start in the morning) to find him in very bad shape.  He was taken away, like the others, in an ambulance.

He spent a few weeks in hospital then back into high risk/admin then back to our unit. The prison knew there had been a fuck up with him, so to buy his silence they offered him a room in the prison’s self-care unit. He took the deal, not realising that this broke an unspoken prison rule about taking prison deals. Prison justice kicked in and he was summarily beaten black and blue in self-care.

This is how overcrowding turned a simple asthma attack into black eyes and broken ribs. This was not the only case like this.

Life in these double bunked prison cells was so shit that some preferred to spend as much time as they could in the prison’s solitary confinement unit, or ‘The Pound’ as it is called, not because the pound is an easy place to spend your time, but rather because at least there during the long lock downs around the prison, you could have your own room, and did not have to endure the shit soaked air of another person’s excrement.

Now consider the conditions for which a prisoner is sent to the pound, this usually entails committing a serious violent action. Bash up a prisoner, knock out a screw, any form of violence will get you a spot in the pound. Because of this, the pound was usually full, and some of these prisoners ended up doing their pound time in their own double bunked cells.

From my talks with the long term prisoners in my unit, it was their opinion that the murder of one of Spring Hills prison guards in 2010 came from the extreme stress caused by these conditions.

There is no real means for prisoners to get the message out to the general public. They are forbidden internally from talking to journalists. The internal process of escalating these issues is nothing short of a whitewash and cover-up, and prisoners WILL experience prejudice for putting in official complaints.

For this reason, some prisoners in units higher up the hill from where I was began planning in January 2013 what is now known as the Spring Hill Riot which took place later that year. There haven’t been many full blown riots in NZ prisons. A couple of riots in the 1960s, one in 2004, and the one at Spring Hill in 2013.

Typically the cover up system kicked in with the then minister immediately calling it gang related, and the final report whitewashed the riot as being frivolous. But let me be clear, the initial report that this was gang related, and the final report putting the riot down to home-made alcohol was a total, utter, whitewash.

The intention of that riot was to raise the issue of overcrowding I have detailed, and a recent UN report confirmed.

This is the number one issue prisoners have in Spring Hill, it is the only issue they want fixed (even though I will provide what I believe are fixes for all of the above except prison justice), and I promised them that when I had completed my parole period, I would get this message out to you all.

Preventing Violence in Spring Hill and Other Prisons via the Justice System

Some of the violence is an inevitable part of being in prison. Prison Justice for example is case and point. There is not much that I can think of that can be done to reduce this. That aside lets tackle the other 3 issues I listed.

Gang recruitment and on-going training

A gang or club needs new members, and current members need up-skilling. What is no use to these clubs are members who receive prison sentences that exceed the sentences of trainers. These prisoners are looked upon as potential trainers, but they themselves are ignored in the training and recruiting.

Clubs are interested in new prisoners and prisoners with short sentences. Simply put, cut off the supply of this category of prisoner and you will severely impact on the gang related violence and regeneration using your tax dollars.

You won’t end gangs, because society, financial/ racial disparities, capitalism … creates that.

How to cut off the supply?

Well, two ways come to mind. Firstly, many of those poor and working class prisoners who are sentenced to short terms, especially the Maori prisoners, would probably not be in prison if they had proper representation. The government needs to provide a service for free to these and all prisoners actually, to have their cases reviewed with real representation, I’m talking Queens Council or similar level representational reviews.

From my own observation of the cases of the 88 men in the unit, I estimated that about 25% of them were wrongly imprisoned. Cases like cannabis possession – growing, driving without a license and more. Frivolous shit that should have resulted in a non-custodial sentence. These people should not be in a prison that subjects them to the onslaught of violence caused by gang recruiting, understaffing and overcrowding.

In this measure alone, you would see a massive drop in numbers of Maori prisoners in prison as well.

Secondly, find a non-custodial method of sentencing people who have been sentenced to 3 years or less for their crimes. If you take these people away from prison and successfully rehabilitate them without incarceration, then you cut the supply. No supply equals the end of the gang training regime on your tax dollars.

Under staffing (AV)

Self-explanatory. Provide a staffing level that meets the requirements and expectations the general public have for prisoner security in prisons.

Simple – up the staffing levels (and reduce the prison population).

Over-crowding (AV)

With 25% of your prison population now back out on the street due to the earlier discussed measures, you can then undo what National did to prisons around the country without even having to build another fucking prison. In fact you could take a bulldozer to at least one of the prisons by my estimate, as well as the following:

  • Single cells for all prisoners (get rid of the bunks!)
  • One telephone per unit for every 10 prisoners (imagine living in a house with 88 people and one phone)
  • Employ real medical staff rather than prison guards that know how to hand out pills

A note on Private Prisons

My one issue with Serco is that it is profiteering from misery. This in my view is almost as morally corrupt as purposeful overcrowding by government as a means of cost saving.

Summary

The UN Committee Against Torture actually identified these three areas I addressed in its latest report to the New Zealand Government, which the current minister of Corrections has soundly rejected.

Among other things, the report identified overcrowding, inadequate health services and over-representation of Maori in prisons.

Now you all have a better idea that all of that is true and have some ideas of how to fix this without building any new prisons.

These measures only address what the Justice System and Corrections can do to fix this issue.

You will always have high levels of crime and gangs while your society is so unfair to the less fortunate.

Get over it or do something about it.

Your call…

Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara
Former political prisoner of Spring Hill Corrections Facility

Operation 8: Human Rights Commission Report

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

The Human Rights Commission has finally released its report into Operation 8 and the human rights violations associated with the armed paramilitary operation at Ruatoki and elsewhere on 15th October 2007. It should be read in conjunction with the Independent Police Conduct Authority report published in May 2013. Both reports can be downloaded at the following links.

HRC Report
IPCA Report

Both reports focus on the actions of the armed paramilitary police on the day of their operation on 15th October 2007. The IPCA report addresses unlawful behaviour by the police and the HRC report addresses human rights violations. Neither looks any deeper at the justification for Operation 8. That will only be achieved through a full and independent inquiry into the conduct of Operation 8 from beginning to end. The activities on 15th October 2007 were just the visible tip of the iceberg.

Now I don’t know myself but The Kumara Vine reports that the first draft of the HRC report was so weak they were told to rewrite it.

Media Release

Commission releases Operation Eight human rights analysis

Today the Human Rights Commission released a report on Police actions during Operation Eight concluding that innocent people were exposed to unnecessary trauma and had their human rights negatively impacted.

The Commission received 31 complaints about Police actions covering a range of concerns including being stopped at the roadblock at Ruatoki and photographed without consent, the negative implications of using the Terrorism Suppression Act, and the impact on children confined for several hours, some without food.

“Our report focuses on the innocent people affected by the operation. These people had done nothing wrong and did not break any laws but had their basic rights trampled. The report does not deal with those people arrested or charged,”  says Chief Commissioner David Rutherford.

“The report also concludes that no comprehensive assessment of the impact on innocent people was carried out; and insufficient support was provided to innocent people.

“It’s very clear more should have been done in the immediate aftermath to support innocent people. We make five recommendations to help ensure negative impacts are minimised in the future.

“On the positive side, much progress has been made since 2007. We’re pleased to see Police have made changes to their processes and policies to ensure this doesn’t happen again. For example, we welcome the completion of a review of Police policy for dealing with children and vulnerable people when executing search warrants.

“It is also worth noting that new search and surveillance legislation has been introduced since Operation Eight that addresses much of the behaviour complained about.

“The Commission’s report follows the conclusion of related court cases and the release of the IPCA report earlier this year. We considered it inappropriate to release our analysis before the completion of these two matters.

“Over recent months the Commission has been consulting with both Police and Tūhoe leadership and we understand that substantial progress has been made in repairing the relationship. My hope is that this report will help further that endeavour,” says Mr Rutherford.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

The Urewera 17: Weekend Warriors or Tearaway Terrorists?

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

By Waitai Rakete – guest contributor

“I wrote an analysis of the raids as part of an MSS in 2010. After meeting and discussing the events with Warren Tucker I sent him a copy of my essay, titled “The Urewera 17: Weekend Warriors or Tearaway Terrorists?”. I didn’t get any feedback from Warren, but after reading this, suspect I may have had one or maybe two points correctly identified”. – Waitai.

Introduction

“Armed anarchists about to launch an IRA-like war to press for an independent Tuhoe nation in the central North Island? Military-style weapons training camps? Arms dealers offering to obtain grenade-launchers for terrorists? IRA training manuals, napalm explosions, automatic weapons and threats against the prime minister and police?”

Such were the sensational news snippets on October 18, 2007 in what the police hinted was the first terrorist conspiracy in New Zealand. The newspapers implied that police had either foiled a “plot shocking in its implications”, or they were “guilty of a massive over-reaction that threatens to undermine whatever credibility they have”.

Police seemed to be suggesting they had averted an imminent, coordinated armed uprising by a range of New Zealand agitators, but there had been elements of farce. In Christchurch, they were turned away from the homes of Save Happy Valley campaigners because they had not bothered to obtain search warrants. In central Wellington, they raided a local community house which doubled as a bicycle repair shop (1).  Also of interest under the Suppression of Terrorism Act was a “yeast-free bread baking demonstration” run as part of a sustainable living expo in Taupo, and the ransacking of a pensioners house in Tauranga (2).

The aim of this study of the “anti-terrorism” raids is two-fold. Firstly, to use open-source material to gain some understanding of the issues brought to our attention by these events, and to gain insight to New Zealand’s Intelligence Agencies. Secondly, to study the Intelligence process as it may have occurred in this case, and determine if there was some intelligence “failure” and what the possible factors contributing to it were.

In terms of the analysis made, the limitations of the public domain open-source documents largely obtained from news reports that this study is based on should be acknowledged, some being material fed from police sources to media, and others containing media induced bias. And so there are certainly reservations to what may be concluded.

Timeline of Events

December, 2005:

It was uncovered that an investigation began after two hunters in the remote Urewera Mountains stumbled across a camp where armed men, some clad in balaclavas, were training. They reported what they saw to the police, and then camps were put under surveillance (3).

In the following months, the police recorded arrivals and departures (logging 74 people passing through, although people may have been counted more than once), bugged conversations, intercepted telephone calls and text messages, secretly videoed suspects, and monitored a number of computer accounts.

Police say they moved when the threat posed by the group grew beyond acceptable levels. “We had watched a level of activity grow that had been characterized by an unlawful nature,” said John West, acting deputy commissioner of the New Zealand police. “We moved to mitigate a serious risk.” (4)

Monday, October 15 2007:

At dawn about 20 heavily armed police officers surrounded the house of Maria Steens and marched Steens and her 17-year-old daughter, Amie Rangihika, out of the house. They arrested leading Tuhoe Maori activist Tame Iti, Steens partner, and scoured the apartment for what the search warrant described as “evidence as to the commission of an offense of Participating in a Terrorist Group.” (5)

More than 300 police were involved in what have become known as the “anti-terrorism” raids in Auckland, the Bay of Plenty region, Wellington, Palmerston North and Christchurch, during which 17 people were arrested and a number of weapons seized. The raids were aimed at campaigners for Maori sovereignty, environmentalists and peace activists rather than foreign groups, but marked the first time authorities had acted under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

It is alleged military-style guerrilla training was being conducted in the camps, which according to the head of police Howard Broad, those arrested had taken part in. Though the warrants were issued through the Terrorism Suppression Act, Police had yet to decide whether to lay charges under the Act. Broad said he ordered the raids because of a threat to public safety after surveillance of the camps and those involved.

Iti’s lawyer says police should have established that they had enough evidence before invoking the anti-terrorism act. “What is concerning is the speculation that seems to occur, that you can detain people on charges that may or may not be brought under a piece of legislation that may or may not be invoked, and that you should be held in custody while the police do their homework,” Annette Sykes said, and expressed a lack of confidence in the protection of human rights. Tame Iti was arrested on eight firearm charges. (6)

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell accused the police of placing small Maori villages in Urewera Valley “under siege”, with school buses stopped and searched by heavily armed police and people being arrested in front of frightened children. “… and so we’re concerned about the impact it’s had on the community,” he said. (7)

Tuesday, October 16 2007:

Revelations surfaced in police documents that Iti planned an IRA-style war on New Zealand to create an independent Tuhoe nation. Unemployed South Auckland man Jamie Lockett was refused bail by the High Court. Police say that included in the evidence that has emerged are intercepted text messages from Lockett saying he was intending to launch a war on New Zealand. Lockett, 46, allegedly sent messages saying “I’m training to be a vicious, dangerous commando” and “White men are going to die in this country.” Lockett, who is white, said he was anti-guns, and while a friend of Iti, was not involved in any illegal activity. (8)

Wednesday, October 17 2007:

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says race relations in New Zealand have been set back 100 years by the police raids. Iti is denied bail in the Rotorua District Court as three more firearms charges are laid against him. Police actions are criticised by activists and questioned by academics as the first occurrence of “military-style political policing” in the country. (9)

Thursday, October 18 2007:

The Government calls for cool heads over mounting criticism of the raids, saying people should not rush to make judgment. (10)

Although the raids and surveillance were carried out under the controversial Suppression of Terrorism Act, the charges that had been laid to date were mostly related to firearms offences. The Act has been criticised by civil rights groups and some opposition politicians as marking a significant legislative erosion of human rights and the due process of law. (11)

Friday, October 19 2007:

A 1000-strong protest march is held in Whakatane objecting to the police raids, with many upset over allegations that children travelling to a kohanga reo had their van stopped by armed police. (12)

The Security Intelligence Service (SIS) issued a rare public statement to dispel speculation it was involved in the week’s police operation. Prime Minister Helen Clark, who is the minister responsible for the service, refused to comment on National Party claims that the SIS briefed leader John Key ahead of the anti- terror raids. However, SIS head Warren Tucker said he regularly briefed the leader of the Opposition on matters of security, which is required by law, and the subject of those briefings was meant to be confidential. “The SIS has no powers to enforce security, such as arrest or detention, and the … operations earlier this week are a police matter,” he said.

Tucker did not address the issue of whether the SIS may have been involved in the year–long surveillance operation that led to the raids. (13)

Saturday, October 27 2007:

The Maori Party wrap up its conference that weekend with a strongly worded statement condemning the Government over the raids and labelling them discriminatory. (14)

Monday, October 29 2007:

The Maori Party comes under fire for supporting suspects arrested in the police anti-terror raids, with NZ First leader Winston Peters labelling them “militant racists” and the Government accusing the party of whipping up fear. (15)

Thursday, November 1 2007:

Charges to be laid under New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act are still pending a decision by Solicitor General Dr David Collins. Iti was remanded to reappear in a Rotorua court, where he can appeal against an earlier decision to refuse him bail. Several others were granted bail today. (16)

Monday, November 5 2007:

A Runanganui, or two-yearly parliament of Maori Anglicans which met in Christchurch over the weekend, passed a resolution saying it was shocked by the October 15 raids in the Bay of Plenty. It expressed concern at the “trauma, fear, terror and humiliation experienced by the Tuhoe people”.

Another resolution urged Parliament to reconsider the anti- terrorism and foreshore and seabed legislation with a view to repealing or amending them “to remove their discriminatory features”.

In a church statement, the Reverend Awanui Timutimu, an Anglican clergyman who lives at Ruatoki, one of the towns caught up in the raids, said activists like Iti should be dealt with locally. He said there were established procedures involving community elders, a Maori police advisory group, and iwi liaison officers. (17)

Tuesday March 4, 2008:

The past year has been mainly positive for racial harmony, says Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres in his annual review of race relations which was released that month. However, the police anti-terrorism raids and their aftermath could have had a damaging effect, he says. (18)

Monday September 1, 2008:

A month-long depositions hearing for the 18 people charged with firearms offences starts in the Auckland District court. After the year-long investigation, police had come to believe the Ruatoki Valley was the centre of quasi-military style training camps. However, Solicitor-General David Collins, QC, said the terrorism legislation was “incoherent” and those arrested could not be charged under it. (19)

Tuesday September 2, 2008:

Lawyers for the defence claimed that nearly one year after the arrests they still did not have up-to-date information on the charges their clients faced. The charges ranged from possession of molotov cocktails, AK-47s, sawn-off shotguns, Lee-Enfield rifles and semi- automatics.

Iti was allowed to have his charges translated into Maori after Judge Mark Perkins accepted an application by his lawyer, Annette Sykes, that Maori was her client’s first language and the one he was most fluent in. (20)

Friday October 17, 2008:

Seventeen people were committed to stand trial for firearms offences after last year’s “anti-terror” raids. The solicitor general had said there was insufficient evidence for terrorism charges. (21)

Friday October 31, 2008:

A new charge of participating in a criminal gang is to be laid against five of the 18 people arrested during the anti-terrorism raids. (22)

New Zealand Security and Intelligence Agencies

One question these events prompt is: Were New Zealand’s Security and Intelligence Agencies involved in the intelligence process? Though there is expected to be an element of secrecy in the operations of these organisations, by definition we can surmise the SIS (Security Intelligence Service) may have been involved. From the DESS (Domestic and External Security Secretariat) booklet ‘Securing our Nations Safety: How New Zealand manages its security and intelligence agencies’ (23) we learn “three of the four operational agencies – GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau), EAB (External Assessments Bureau) and DDIS (Directorate of Defence Intelligence and Security) – are concerned only with foreign intelligence.” (p. 34). So let us examine the SIS role as may be relevant in this case.

The DESS booklet describes that the SIS provides the government “with intelligence and advice on security issues, including espionage, sabotage, subversion and terrorism…It gathers its information from a wide range of human and technical sources.” (p. 21). The head of the SIS is appointed by the Governor-General and is responsible to the PM (Prime Minister). The SIS is a civilian organisation, and hence its officers have no police powers such as arrest (p. 22). It has approximately 200 staff (24) and a budget of 36 million dollars (25).

Some of the functions of the SIS are: to obtain, correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to security; communicate such intelligence to those deemed appropriate; advise the current government about relevant matters; and cooperate with other organisations. However there are some things they cannot do for example: investigate people on the basis of taking part in legal protest activities; disagree with the government; operate outside the functions in the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act; and enforce measures for security. The SIS must be politically neutral, and the Director of Security is required to consult regularly with the Leader of the Opposition (p. 24).

Also from the DESS booklet we learn that in order to gather secret intelligence – that content which the holders of the information would like to keep lawful authorities unaware of – there are methods to intercept private communications that are intrusive and infringe upon the right of citizens to privacy. To use such methods, the Director of Security must obtain an interception warrant by demonstrating to the PM that the information: is necessary to detect activities prejudicial to security; is of sufficient value to justify the interception or seizure; is unlikely to be gained by any other means; and is not legally privileged in court proceedings (p. 24).

The PM and the Commissioner of Security Warrants (statutorily required to be a retired High Court Judge) jointly issue the warrant after the Commissioner has undertaken a rigorous examination of the application, attending the offices of the SIS to examine files and consult with the Director and SIS officers as required (p. 25).

As well, acting in oversight capacities of the SIS are the Intelligence and Security Committee (p. 19), and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (p. 21).

An Intelligence process

There are various methodologies or variations of the intelligence process or the Intelligence Cycle (Lowenthal, 200026; Bruce & George, 200827; Johnson, 200328). Essentially they refer to the various steps in creating “intelligence” from the identification of a need for, to the delivery of some form of intelligence “product”. For this study the process is described as being the following five steps:

Task initiation:

A new request for intelligence has arisen and the purpose is defined, and it is prioritised among existing requirements. The types of data to be collected and the methods to be used should be decided. A case is made for the acquisition of human and other resources needed to carry out the task. Warrants are obtained for interception purposes where required or legal requirements are reviewed.

Data collection:

One or more mediums of various surveillance or interception tools and techniques including visual, phone bugging, recordings, text messages, photo, video and infra-red equipment are employed to collect raw data. Other data may come from third-parties or open-sources.

Processing:

Raw data is transformed into a useable form such as transcripts made of conversations or text messages, photos processed or video downloaded. In some instances communications need language translation, or personal details might be gathered.

Analysis and production:

The processed information is examined or interpreted for meaning by specialists, and ideas are formulated and combined, so as to produce knowledge or intelligence useful for decision making. This may result in “all-source” intelligence, a blend of information from different types of collection medium.

Dissemination:

The intelligence product or “deliverable” is distributed to and among the consumers in agreed formats. Part of this step in the process is to make it digestible to the audience. This involves ensuring intelligence continues to be timely, relevant, accurate and complete.

These steps are not clearly delineated in the various methodologies, deciding methods of data collection for instance may be part of the data collection phase. As well the steps may not be carried out distinctly, for instance data might be collected and processed daily. Some high-level processing or manipulation may occur during analysis. The intelligence process is also described as being cyclical or repeating, and intelligence that is produced and delivered may result in changes to the collection or reformatting the deliverables for subsequent iterations.

It is possible to envisage the intelligence process as potentially having occurred this way and perhaps the collection continued until funds became low or political pressure was felt, rather than sufficient intelligence was gathered for prosecution under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

The Terrorist training camps

The police have suggested that those attending the camps were terrorists, meeting in the mountains to plan attacks on New Zealand soil. Critics say the meetings were social gatherings, at which the activists passed on traditional Maori bushcraft and perhaps swapped protest tactics. (29)

John Minto, founder of Global Peace and Justice, who knows Iti well, ridicules the idea that he could be a terrorist and says anyone committed to violent covert action would be unlikely to invite a ragtag bunch of peace activists and environmentalists into the conspiracy. “Tame is … a wonderful man, with a very important political message,” he said.

Minto says he has participated in camps in the Urewera forest where protesters rehearsed tactics. He says that no real guns were used when he attended but that fake weapons were carried in role- playing games. (30)

Iti’s partner, Steens, works with Iti for Tuhoe Hauora, a government-funded community group that works with troubled young Tuhoe. Steens says Tuhoe spend a lot of time in the forest where the camps were found, whether for hunting or to teach and reaffirm Tuhoe identity.

“There are camps throughout the Urewera, our people go backwards and forwards all the time,” she said. Weaponry, she said, has always been part of the Tuhoe tradition, so it would not have been surprising if guns were on display. (31)

Human rights issues

Some of the concerns were addressed in Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres 2007 annual review of race relations. Largely, unanswered questions about the raids had provoked unease, Mr de Bres said. This had skewed the number of complaints to the commission alleging someone had incited racial disharmony.
“The issues are first and foremost human rights issues rather than simply race relations,” Mr de Bres told the Herald. “At the moment all we can really say is what I’ve said there: it caused distress, it caused disquiet, and there are unanswered questions.”

Mr de Bres said questions about the long-term impact of the arrests on race relations could not be answered until court proceedings were over and bodies such as the Independent Police Conduct Authority had reported the findings of their investigations into the raids. “There are plenty of allegations that need to be examined still in relation to whether the police conduct was discriminatory. It clearly had a resonance in terms of earlier historical acts, but I think everybody is keen to see this not damage race relations and is keen for any human rights issues to be addressed through the proper processes.”

The Human Rights Commission is planning a report on the human rights implications of the raids. (32)

Some of the anger is directed at the methods the police used. In the Maori village of Ruatoki, locals say several dozen heavily armed police set up roadblocks, stormed homes and forced drivers to get out of their cars and pose for mugshots. Only one man was arrested. Ruatoki is the birthplace of Iti.

West said the warrants “were executed in as low-key a way as possible, consistent with the fact that we were looking to arrest people with firearms and ammunition.” He denied that the focus had been on any racial group.

Te Ururoa Flavell, the lawmaker who represents Ruatoki in Parliament, said the village “will always be known as the first community to be raided under the Terrorist Suppression Act.” He called the police’s actions heavy-handed and said their credibility was on the line, even among lawmakers.

“The reaction is that they have to come up with something good or there is going to be egg all over their faces,” Flavell said. (33)

Maori activism

Some Maori see the raids as an attempt to smear them as terrorists for political gain. “This action has violated the trust that has been developing between Maori and pakeha and sets our race relations back 100 years,” said Pita Sharples, leader of the Maori Party.

Julian Wilcox, a Maori commentator and broadcaster, sees some political hyperbole in Sharples’ remarks but agrees that the raids have done lasting damage. “The police have done a lot of work with the Maori, and the effect of this is to undo a lot of that,” he said. “That kind of hurt takes a long time to heal.”

Iti, with his full facial tattoo, or moko, is one of New Zealand’s best known and most controversial Maori campaigners. In January 2005, he shot a New Zealand flag with a shotgun to show how he felt about the East Cape War of the 1860s in which his Tuhoe tribe lost much of its land.

Iti’s activism fits in with a long tradition of Tuhoe resistance. They were one of the last tribes to come into contact with white colonists and have a long history of disdain for the demands of the pakeha bureaucracy, including gun licensing laws. (34)

Hidden agenda or motives?

The government is trying to pass amendments to the Act – broadening the definition of a terrorist act, adding to the list of proscribed organizations and reducing judicial oversight – and a number of critics argue that this is not a coincidence.

John Minto, founder of Global Peace and Justice and perhaps the most high-profile rights campaigner in New Zealand, said, “It seems to us that this is some kind of scare to get the anti- terror legislation passed”. (35)

In regard to the most recent charges Moana Jackson from the defendant’s legal team said he believed an abuse of process was occurring. “It would be a sad day if a protest group for example is suddenly labelled as a gang.” Jackson told Radio New Zealand. He said he thought authorities, who spent millions of dollars investigating the group and conducting the raids, were trying to save face. “I think there is a certain amount of cynicism about the reasons why these further charges have been laid” he said. “I think it is significant and in many ways a dangerous step … because it does tar these defendants with all the negativity associated with gangs as normally understood in society, and clearly there are no parallels,” Jackson said.

And Crown prosecutor Ross Burns said the law relating to associating with criminal gangs did not encompass legitimate protesters. “The reality is that the charge requires those people to have got together for the purpose of doing serious violent offences punishable by 10 or more years’ prison,” Burns said. He said while the new charges would be laid against five of the 18 originally arrested, it had not yet been decided which court would hear the matter. “I have applied to the High Court from the District Court, because there are issues relating to the admissibility of evidence which can only be dealt with in the High Court,” he said. (36)

Implications for intelligence

The raids were said to be the culmination of more than a year of surveillance and that various government intelligence agencies had been monitoring those involved in the training camps. (37) As can be found in the DESS booklet, the only government intelligence agency that should have been involved is the SIS. This study suggests as highly likely the police possessed the surveillance equipment and expertise needed, but did the police possess the intelligence production capabilities to use the evidence collected? The SIS would certainly have assisted if requested. But the then Head of the SIS, Warren Tucker, had seemed genuinely dismayed at the implications of complicity hinted at by reports in the media of his routine meeting with the Leader of the Oposition. However the Head of the SIS is not permitted to confirm or deny involvement in what are within the bounds allowable for SIS involvement. Though at the very least it would be expected his advice to have been sought and given, the feeling remains the advice offered may not have been followed.

Much of the police evidence is apparently based on text messages between those who have attended the camps. (38) What seems disturbing is that the messages appeared to be taken out of context. And then used at face value rather than filtering for suitability. That the process of disseminating intelligence was one that stepped through the transcripts mechanically and flagged the slightest indication as relevant through the presence of certain keywords. There was also surveillance, bugged conversations, intercepted telephone calls, video footage, and possibly computer records from seized hard drives. There almost seems to have been a frenzy in collecting sources of material with perhaps little likely relevance. And an over-zealousness in the desire to use it as evidence. Collecting these seems to have been an on-going process, meaning it didn’t end with the culmination of the raids. This would also match with the gradual down-grade of the charges laid, as the required evidence proved not to exist.

Moana Jackson from the defendant’s legal team suggested on Radio New Zealand that the authorities had spent millions of dollars investigating the group and conducting the raids. It could be worth considering that the SIS budget at 36 million might have difficulty absorbing such a cost, and that the police may be more likely to have the funding resources in such a contingency.

It has been attempted here to match the requirements for an Intelligence process with activities as they seem to have occurred. It might be considered that the events may be more in line with an ongoing police investigation than an Intelligence agency operation.

If the police controlled the aspects of the investigation, it means that the system of checks and balances that the SIS is monitored by and ultimately answerable to were not invoked. And an overwhelming Police culture would pervade, a desire to prove the value of the specialised units involved, and a persistence in attempting to achieve a return on the sizeable investment made in the investigation.

Conclusion

It begs the question why the police didn’t from the start – as noted by the Reverend Awanui Timutimu from Ruatoki – use established procedures to involve community elders, the Maori police advisory group, and iwi liaison officers, to enter the camps in a secure but non-provocative manner, and enquire what was going on. What seems ironic is “hunters” that by definition could also be running around with guns, informed the police of “other” parties running around with guns. So instead there are concerns raised in this study such as discrimination, or hidden agendas, that distract from the main issue. The defendents and their activities were presented in such a manner by misinformation fed by the police to the media, that encouraged an “us and them” mentality between mainstream New Zealanders and Māori. From anecdotal knowledge, the typical Kiwi was shocked to learn there were armed groups running round in the bush practicing terror tactics. This was intended to justify the way the raids were carried out, and the dismaying and lamentable breaches of human rights especially upon women and children that were instigated. But the true failure is that the police were unable to obtain prosecutions under the Suppression of Terrorism Act when that Act had been invoked. As an intelligence failure, it may not be labelled in a classic sense as might be discussed in the literature of Lowenthal, Bruce & George, or Johnson, other than to say uncertainty may not have been communicated well, if at all. Instead the suggestion is the intelligence failure may have come from a lack of understanding of the Terrorism Suppression Act, and a desire to prove that the Police special units involved are effective, their existence is needed, and the hope to eventually justify the cost and effort expended.

The next step would be to analyse the Act to determine if it is fundamentally flawed, or if it is even needed. But perhaps the best course of action, at least until Police develop more suitable Intelligence capabilities, is to leave the intelligence process under the direction of the relevant Intelligence Agencies.

References

(1) Jury out on police anti-terror raids :[2 Edition]. (2007, October 18). The Nelson Mail, p. 9. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1367800941).
(2) ESPINER, Colin. (2007, October 19). Heat on Govt intensifies; TERROR RAIDS:[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A2. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1368482021).
(3) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(4) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(5) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(6) NZ police arrest 17 in anti-terrorism raids. (15 October). ABC Premium News, 1. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest ANZ Newsstand. (Document ID: 1365129911).
(7) NZ police arrest 17 in anti-terrorism raids. (15 October). ABC Premium News, 1. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest ANZ Newsstand. (Document ID: 1365129911).
(8) EATON, Dan. (2007, October 20). Intelligence chief denies raid claim; POLICE RAIDS; Police anti- terror raids [TIMELINE]:[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A4. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370512451).
(9) EATON, Dan. (2007, October 20). Intelligence chief denies raid claim; POLICE RAIDS; Police anti- terror raids [TIMELINE] :[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A4. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370512451).
(10) EATON, Dan. (2007, October 20). Intelligence chief denies raid claim; POLICE RAIDS; Police anti- terror raids [TIMELINE] :[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A4. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370512451).
(11) Jury out on police anti-terror raids :[2 Edition]. (2007, October 18). The Nelson Mail, p. 9. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1367800941).
(12) EATON, Dan. (2007, October 20). Intelligence chief denies raid claim; POLICE RAIDS; Police anti- terror raids [TIMELINE] :[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A4. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370512451).
(13) EATON, Dan. (2007, October 20). Intelligence chief denies raid claim; POLICE RAIDS; Police anti- terror raids [TIMELINE] :[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A4. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370512451).
(14) WATKINS, Tracy, & KAY, Martin. (2007, October 29). Maori Party dubbed ‘racists’ :[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A1. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1373947301).
(15) WATKINS, Tracy, & KAY, Martin. (2007, October 29). Maori Party dubbed ‘racists’ :[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A1. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1373947301).
(16) PAC: Rally of support for those arrested in NZ anti-terror raids. (1 November). AAP General News Wire, 1. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1376394831).
(17) EATON, Dan. (2007, November 7). Archbishop demands Govt apology for raids :[2 Edition]. The Press, p. A9. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1378769561).
(18) Mike Houlahan. (2008, March 4). Anti-terror raids `clouding race issue’. The New Zealand Herald, A5. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest ANZ Newsstand. (Document ID: 1937070251).
(19) z IN BRIEF Terror raid 18 appear today. (2008, September 1). The New Zealand Herald, A3. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest ANZ Newsstand. (Document ID: 1588085061).
(20) Yvonne Tahana, & Andrew Koubaridis. (2008, September 2). Slow day in court sees Ruatoki 18 taking naps. The New Zealand Herald, A3. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest ANZ Newsstand. (Document ID: 1937062221).
(21) PAC: Trial for 17 caught up in ‘anti-terror’ raids. (17 October). AAP General News Wire. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1576313241).
(22) PAC: New charges against five arrested in ‘anti-terror’ raids. (31 October). AAP General News Wire. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1586696281).
(23) Securing our Nations Safety: How New Zealand manages its security and intelligence agencies. The Domestic and External Security Secretariat, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, December 2000.
(24) NZSIS – About Us – Overview. Retrieved July 25, 2010 from http://www.nzsis.govt.nz/about.
(25) NICK LEE FRAMPTON. New Zealand Military Wins Small Budget Increase, DefenseNews. Retrieved July 25, 2010 from http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4641496.
(26) Mark M Lowenthal, Intelligence: from Secrets to Policy, CQ Press, 2000.
(27) James B Bruce and Roger Z George, Intelligence Analysis—The Emergence of a Discipline, Georgetown University Press, 2008.
(28) Loch K Johnson, Bricks and Mortar for a theory of Intelligence. Comparative Strategy 22 (1):pp1-28, 2003.
(29) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(30) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(31) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(32) Mike Houlahan. (2008, March 4). Anti-terror raids `clouding race issue’. The New Zealand Herald, A5. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest ANZ Newsstand. (Document ID: 1937070251).
(33) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(34) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(35) Tim Johnston. (2007, October 23). Anti-terror raids reopen New Zealand wounds Indigenous Maori see rights abuses :[4 Edition]. International Herald Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1370340171).
(36) PAC: New charges against five arrested in ‘anti-terror’ raids. (31 October). AAP General News Wire. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1586696281).
(37) Jury out on police anti-terror raids :[2 Edition]. (2007, October 18). The Nelson Mail, p. 9. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1367800941).
(38) Jury out on police anti-terror raids :[2 Edition]. (2007, October 18). The Nelson Mail, p. 9. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1367800941).

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Commissioner Marshall at the Maori Affairs Select Committee

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

On 4 December 2013 Police Commissioner Peter Marshall appeared before the Maori Affairs select committee to answer questions relating to Operation 8 surveillance of several people who were not involved in the activities in the Urewera and about the ongoing surveillance activities for several years after the armed paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007. The questions were put by Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell and related to a document he produced.

After the session as he spoke to reporters at Parliament Commissioner Marshall was his usual dismissive self and said he would take the document and look into the matter. He also continued the process of spinning his way out of any serious and in-depth investigation into police conduct during Operation 8 by talking about his relationship with Tamati Kruger and their ongoing discussions about repairing the relationship between Ngai Tuhoe and the NZ Police. He disclosed that he would be visiting Ngai Tuhoe before his present contract ends in April 2014.

A day later Shane Jones weighed into the issue by challenging Flavell to “put up or shut up”. The select committee hearing was closed to the media and the document in question has not been released to the media. Jones called for it to be tabled in Parliament. Flavell has declined.

Commissioner Marshall will come back and he will say that the document is not a police document. He will then spin another story about how it cannot be relied upon or somesuch. Jones will crow about how Flavell got it wrong or something like that.

Marshall will be right. Jones wrong. The document is not a police document. It is however a spreadsheet that was circulated among some of the original Operation 8 co-accused. It was compiled, as far as I can ascertain, by one or two of the co-accused from over 60,000 pages of police evidence that were dumped on all of the defence lawyers following the suppressed depositions hearing in the Auckland High Court in August and September 2008. The court had ordered the police to hand over that evidence. The co-accused and defence teams spent hundreds of hours reading it, cataloguing it, and in some cases building their own indexes.

The document that found its way to Te Ururoa Flavell’s office was one of those indexes. Although it is not a police document it is a very accurate and complete record of all of the Operation 8 evidence including references to several documents that were withheld from the defence.

The police and politicians might then use the fact that it is not a NZ Police document to rubbish the claims made by Te Ururoa based on the document.

However it is not the document itself that contains the evidence Te Ururoa Flavell is referring to. The document refers to the evidence. The evidence itself is real, it comprises over 60,000 pages of real police documents, and it is in the hands of all of the defence teams. If Commissioner Marshall is to honestly reply to the questions at the select committee he will need to put a team onto the job to delve into that huge evidence dump for themselves.

Spin will not suffice.

And I’ll give you a hint Commissioner as to why Operation 8 surveillance went wider and deeper than it should have. It was because your predecessor deliberately excluded Superintendent Wallace Haumaha and any Maori from the intelligence management and analysis process. Your Northern SIG team were therefore flying blind into Te Ao Maori and casting about and profiling whoever they could find to put into their network of suspects. You can spin the exclusion of the principal Maori advisor any way you want but it comes down to nothing more than a stupid unprofessional decision based in ignorance, racism and paranoia. We also know that no matter which way you spin it Superintendent Haumaha was deeply offended by that racist decision.

Links: The Operation 8 Series