Category Archives: Spooks & Maori

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 3

Ngai Tuhoe and their Firearms

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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


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

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

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

City vs Country

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ngai Tuhoe Firing Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sir John Turei’s Tangihanga 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shooting the Flag 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

Te Hue Rangi’s Tangihanga 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owhakatoro Marae August 2007

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

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

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

The Paramilitary Operation 2007

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

Looking Back 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 2

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Extract from the Brief of Evidence
The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Probability Space – Part 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

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, 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.

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.


“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.


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.


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.


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.


(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
(25) NICK LEE FRAMPTON. New Zealand Military Wins Small Budget Increase, DefenseNews. Retrieved July 25, 2010 from
(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

Operation 8: An exploration into the possibility space

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Most people, in fact, will not take the trouble in finding out the truth, but are much more inclined to accept the first story they hear.” ― Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

Alternative scenarios and interpretations of the evidence

A variety of different scenarios are usually prepared in order to emphasis the possibility of different alternative futures. By setting up several scenarios, a ‘possibility space’ is created. It is somewhere within this ‘possibility space’ that the future is likely to unfold”.

Quarmby N (2011), Futures work in strategic criminal intelligence, in Ratcliffe, JH (Ed), Strategic thinking in criminal intelligence, 2nd Edition, The Federation Press, NSW.

Intelligence analysis is about predicting the future from past and present information and is rarely about certainty. It is in the realm of probability. And before probability or a probability rating can be applied to scenarios, or predictions of the future, it is an exploration of possibility. Possible conclusions, scenarios and narratives are extracted from the known information or evidence, being always aware that some information is not yet known or might never be known. No one possibility should be preferred over another (i.e. probability) until all are tested and evaluated for that process might itself throw up new insights and certainly new questions. Many analytical tools have been developed to aid in this process.

The human mind does not naturally and easily allow itself to doubt the conclusions it forms in order to instantly create coherence and certainty from ambiguity. Which is why intelligence analysis is both a discipline and an art. The discipline lies in curbing the human tendency to create coherence and certainty, in using analytical tools to focus the mind, and in allowing the art to flourish. The art lies in the lateral thinking that creates the possibility space from the available information. In that process the greater the subject or target knowledge and expertise of the analyst(s) the more realistic, and often broader, the possibility space. Discipline then requires rigorous testing and evaluation of the possibilities to determine probability. Or even to conclude that you don’t know and need to go back and draw up a new intelligence plan with new aims and collection plans.

The Operation 8 intelligence process considered neither possibility nor probablity. It made the giant leap from collection and collation to certainty and from there straight into an armed paramilitary operation against an unarmed and innocent community and against innocent families. There is no evidence in Operation 8 that the police considered any different scenarios other than the one they wanted to believe. There was no “possibility space“; no discipline and no art.

The language of the intelligence analyst is replete with words like “seems”, “appears”, “might”, “maybe” and “possibly”. The language of the Operation 8 team in all of their documentation was “I believe” from even before much relevant information had been collected.

Te Putatara raises these alternative interpretations as possible scenarios based on the evidence presented by the NZ Police to justify Operation 8. I do not claim that one or more of them are definitive interpretations. The definitive interpretation could and probably would have included elements of one or more of these scenarios. But they are all in that ‘possibility space’ and should have been considered, with the expert assistance of Superintendent Haumaha and his team, and other expert analysts including psychologists.

My aim in presenting these scenarios in the “possibility space” is not therefore to determine beyond doubt which of them is the most probable but to show that there were alternative scenarios and that the intelligence operation never quite made it to being an intelligence operation. The evidence is that only one of them was ever considered from early in the operation and before there was any evidence to support that scenario.

Even though the Northern SIG was established as an intelligence unit and claimed it was collecting and analysing intelligence, it did not function as an intelligence unit and did not employ any of the analytical processes, tools and techniques expected of an intelligence unit. Its sole aim was to gain convictions against as many of the suspects as it could by whatever means and under whatever legislation possible. It was an aim that led directly into a great deal of unlawful behaviour by the police including a thoroughly outrageous and reprehensible overreaction in the form of an armed paramilitary operation against innocents.

Scenario 1.

That the participants in the series of wananga in the Urewera were training and preparing for illegal armed political, terrorist and or criminal activity.


The police scenario.

Over the years quite a few fantasists in the Maori activist community have indeed considered the possibility of an armed uprising to achieve their aims, and a few have asked me for my views. I have always replied that such an activity would not only be defeated by the forces of the Government in very short order, it would also set back the Maori cause by generations. Some of my views are online and known to some of the activists.

I have always been adamant that it would certainly be defeated by Maori informants from within even before it started, for the hapu/tribes are all of them very leaky sieves. Maori informants have been in the pay of the SIS and the police for a very long time. And it is most unlikely that any of the tribes would support armed confrontation. We are at heart and despite the rhetoric a very conservative people.

Taame Iti knew all that. He knew that despite its long running grievance and collective sense of frustration and anger, and the rhetoric of Mana Motuhake, Ngai Tuhoe is collectively as conservative as the rest of us, if not more so. One of the frustrations of Ngai Tuhoe activists has been the ultra conservatism of some of the Ngai Tuhoe leadership over many decades. For a time I worked with that conservative leadership. He would have known that armed political and/or criminal activity would not have been countenanced by Ngai Tuhoe as a whole. Without the complete backing of Ngai Tuhoe he would have been on a suicide mission. Was he on a suicide mission?

These are some of the things the Operation 8 team should have known about Ngai Tuhoe but didn’t. They seem to have gleaned their scant knowledge about Ngai Tuhoe and its historic claims from Google Search. Consultation with Superintendent Houmaha and his team would have brought much needed enlightenment to Operation 8.

However, regardless of what I think, a true test of this scenario is whether or not the wananga participants were actually capable of carrying out what they were talking about or whether it was just a fantasy, or perhaps something else.

Scenario 2.

That Taame Iti was planning and rehearsing to mount a production of political or protest theatre in support of the Ngai Tuhoe claim negotiations.


Among many other things Taame Iti is a thespian; an actor. Given his long history of provocative protest theatre in support of his many causes this scenario is always in the possibility space. For example, the theatrical production on the occasion of the arrival of the Waitangi Tribunal at Ngai Tuhoe on January 16th 2005 was a very large production which visibly presented the Tuhoe point of view and part of it eventually provoked an unsuccessful criminal prosecution of Taame Iti by the NZ Police.

This whole scenario then at the series of wananga in the Urewera before October 2007 could actually be seen as preparation for another protest theatre production, or it could have been protest theatre itself . Perhaps.

This scenario might be low in the probability ratings but should not be completely discarded. There is almost always an element or thread of theatricality in all of Taame Iti’s political activities.

Scenario 3.

The wananga in the Urewera may have been designed to deliberately provoke a police response, in order to support the negotiation strategy of the Ngai Tuhoe claim negotiators by invoking solidarity within Ngai Tuhoe, and to remind the Crown of its own blameworthy record on historical grievances raised against it before the Waitangi Tribunal. The Crown’s past activity against Ngai Tuhoe has involved unjustified military aggression and involved the police killing of non combatant Ngai Tuhoe in 1869.


In support of this scenario is the fact that Taame Iti knew that he had been under surveillance for years. He also knew that the wananga and the activities at the wananga were known to media and police. Was he trying to provoke the police, or the government?

There is evidence that from February 2007 Taame knew that the media had received an anonymous letter alleging guerilla preparations. The police’s own evidence shows that Taame Iti was tipped off about their surveillance in June 2007 several months before the 15th October raids, yet he continued to organise the wananga around military style activity. Why?

All or most of the other main suspects knew that they were under police surveillance, so why were they doing whatever they were doing. Why?

This scenario may not be high in the probability ratings but it raises important questions the police didn’t ask. They should have asked them, and looked for answers. One of the aims of an  exploration of the possibility space is to raise new and important questions. Like why were they doing what they were doing, and saying what they were saying, when all of the principal suspects knew they were under surveillance.

Scenario 4.

From the time the Treaty claim negotiations process started the heat has been taken out of Maori activism and support for protest, demonstration and mass action in the pursuit of Maori and Iwi development and political goals has significantly diminished. Taame may have thought it necessary to activate young Ngai Tuhoe to get Ngai Tuhoe youth re-committed to the cause, without ever intending that armed offensive action be undertaken, in the full knowledge anyway that the resources of the State would quash any such action within weeks if not days were he stupidly to have gone down that path.


It is common knowledge in the Maori community that Taame Iti’s activism has always involved the education and motivation of Ngai Tuhoe youth in support of Ngai Tuhoe political objectives. His activism over decades covering many social and political issues have included some education about the Ngai Tuhoe cause. Always.

Scenario 5.

The Ngai Tuhoe negotiation strategy has included a plan to widen the circle of support for the Ngai Tuhoe cause. This was possibly the primary purpose of attendance at the wananga by the political activists from Wellington and elsewhere, aimed at garnering support for Ngai Tuhoe by inviting a wide range of people.


It is unlikely that the political activists (many of them Pakeha) who attended the wananga would ever have participated in an armed uprising. To start with their organisations have long been infiltrated by security and intelligence agencies and they could not be considered reliable co-conspirators. Nor could they be expected to lay down their lives for Ngai Tuhoe. In fact several of them refused to take part in the military games at the wananga.

The use of weaponry in the circumstances may be a side issue as a morale booster for some, in the same way that flag burning can be a morale booster for others. It fires up the activist passion and commits them to the cause. Maybe.

Scenario 6.

The military-like activity may have been undertaken primarily to train young men (and women) for employment by private military contractors and operators in areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan.


At the time of Operation 8 I was aware that a Maori contractor was recruiting people to work for him on a possible contract in Iraq, Afghanistan or Africa. That prospect would attract young Maori dreaming of highly paid employment and adventure, and might cause them to seek training from a former soldier such as the late Mr Tuhoe Lambert.

Mr Lambert, as has been widely reported, had been an infantry soldier in Victor 5 Company in Vietnam. However he also had some experience as an operator with a private military contractor (in Africa I believe) for a short time immediately after his Vietnam service, and would therefore have some expertise in that specialist field.

Evidence was produced at the trial of the Urewera 4 by a participant at the October 2007 wananga that he was a military contractor specialising in personal and convoy protection, and that he was indeed demonstrating the techniques of his trade. He also commented that none of the people at the wananga met the minimum standards required.

Scenario 7.

The activity of a military nature may have been simply game playing or role playing , or even out of control fantasy.


The element of fantasy could have been a component of any or all of the above scenarios, or a combination of them

Following the Vietnam conflict the military became a pariah in NZ society, and Vietnam veterans were often reviled. However in recent years war veterans have noticed that soldiers are now held in quite high esteem. Veterans have also noticed that many males in society now envy those of us who wear campaign medals, as though we have passed through some process of initiation by fire, not now available to most.

At the same time ANZAC Day is being observed by more and more young people, and the legend of the ANZACS is re-writing itself into the psyche of  society. This could have led to the acting out of a fantasy centred on military type training.

And the alleged military training at the wananga in the Urewera could just have been realistic war games.

Adults now participate in significant numbers in such game playing and role playing. There are gun clubs, deerstalking clubs, military battle re-enactment clubs, paintball competitions and the like. Out in the country the youth still love to shoot, and with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in progress, to act out war game fantasies.

From the variety of activities available it seems that adults too are acting out their war game fantasies. Perhaps.

Scenario 8

In the slow progress of the Ngai Tuhoe settlement process there was a build up of frustration and anger, over and above the background anger and resentment that has persisted for generations. An outbreak of violence would have been detrimental to the Ngai Tuhoe cause and negotiations. Perhaps Taame Iti took it upon himself to divert and contain that negative energy by including military type training in his wananga knowing that the disaffected would be attracted and their energies contained and diverted.


If that is the case it is improbable that he ever intended to unleash it. See Scenario 1. What would have been essential in the Tuhoe negotiations was to give the negotiators all the time they needed to get the negotiations on track and followed through to a successful conclusion. And that is what happened. Whether or not the military training was part of that strategy could have been determined by asking.

An Assessment of Scenarios

In the first place the relative likelihood of the above scenarios could have been simply determined by asking. Superintendent Houmaha or any of his iwi liaison officers could have done that at any time. Negotiator Tamati Kruger would certainly have been happy to assist. The police however sidelined Houmaha and headed down the 007 James Bond track.

I personally think there was an element of Scenario 7 at play; the play acting scenario. The Walter Mitty scenario if you like. That was my initial reaction and after some reflection and evaluation I think there was an element of fantasy perhaps combined with other aims. From the viewpoint of a former military professional Scenario 6, the military contractor scenario in the October 2007 wananga, was definitely a Walter Mitty scenario. It may not have seemed that way to the participants if some of them thought it was an employment opportunity. However the demonstration of techniques was real. The likelihood of any of them going on to a career in military contracting was not.

I am entirely unconvinced by the police’s preferred Scenario 1; the armed uprising but I will look at it in more detail below.

It is unlikely that Taame Iti ever thought that he could mount a successful armed offensive. He didn’t have the right type of people, fighters rather than activists, and he didn’t have the logistic resources. He also knew that he himself was under surveillance and had been for years.

Despite police allegations that the training was conducted in remote bush locations some of it took place within Ruatoki within sight of Iti’s home. From the orientation of the cameras the police video evidence purported to show that it was in a remote bush location. It was not as secretive as the police made it out to be. That lack of secrecy would have to be factored into an assessment of the above scenarios.

Many people, including Te Putatara, knew that some military type activity was taking place as part of the wananga. No-one other than the Pakeha police was concerned. It may be that some of the police iwi liaison officers knew and were equally unconcerned.

Re Scenario 2, I always look forward to Taame Iti’s theatrical protest productions for they are always provocative, invariably entertaining and often humorous. And scary too if you are ignorant, racist and paranoid.

Scenario 3 designed to deliberately provoke a police response in unlikely for it might have been counter-productive. As it turned out it did provoke a massive response which in the end probably helped the Ngai Tuhoe negotiations towards a successful conclusion. So it cannot be ruled out entirely. There may have been some element of Scenario 3 at play but with a less deliberate, and a more “Up yours Mr Pirihimana” intent.

It doesn’t really matter which of these scenarios was the most likely. What matters is that the police had tunnel vision and didn’t consider any alternative scenarios. I personally think that there were probably elements of many of them at play, and that Scenario 8 would be a strong contender.

However as an intelligence analyst I would have looked for evidence to confirm or eliminate all of them and to determine likelihood or probability. The police didn’t.

After the exploration of the possibility space an exploration of the offensive capacity of the suspects

The Crown alleged that the four finally accused of participation in an organised criminal group were the ringleaders of the wananga (camps), which they said were designed to train people to fight for the self-governance of the Tuhoe region. Over time that changed as the police changed their story from an act or acts of terrorism, to murder and arson. But the initial assessment that justified the 15th October paramilitary operation was that they were planning an act or acts of terrorism.

Even if Scenario 1, the police scenario, came out of an anaysis as the most probable it would still need to be evalusted in detail. However at no time during Operation 8 or during the trial did anyone put that assertion to the test of probability.

What was the actual capacity and capability of the group under surveillance to carry out the criminal or other activities it is alleged they were planning. Was their war korero based in actual capability or was it fantasy, bullshit and bravado, or something else.

The security forces against which the group would be opposed

The first part of this analysis would be an assessment of the forces of the New Zealand state that would be arrayed against any armed Ngai Tuhoe group. They would fall into two categories; 1) the NZ Police, and 2) the NZ Armed Forces if called upon to give aid to the civil power.

The NZ Police could call upon the Special Tactics Group and the Armed Offenders Squads, perhaps 200 armed paramilitary officers. They would also deploy more police officers to provide command and control, intelligence, communications, cordons, and other support; perhaps another 500 officers.

The NZ Armed Forces would provide logistic support and helicopter transport in the first instance. If called upon to field combat troops they could readily deploy a 1200-man battle group consisting of an infantry battalion, an SAS squadron, supporting arms and logistic services, helicopter support and aerial surveillance assets. The aerial surveillance assets would locate and pinpoint any hostiles holed up in the bush very quickly.

The leadership of any planned uprising would surely consider what opposition it might encounter.

Number of participants

There was no analysis of the number of people that would be required to launch the alleged planned terrorist or criminal activities, and the number that would be required to combat the weight of the security forces, or at least to evade or resist their operations. If the armed insurrection moved to the cities they would need to have a network of safe houses looked after by trusted sympathisers.

How many people would be needed, including reinforcements to replace the inevitable casualties? Were there plans and equipment and facilities and funding in place to train that many people? Where would they be trained beyond the surveillance of the NZ Police?

Supply of weapons and other military equipment

The NZ Police have produced evidence showing that there were a few weapons and other equipment that could be construed as warlike. But there is no analysis of exactly what quantity and type of weaponry and other equipment might be needed to mount the alleged  activities. There is no analysis as to the likely source of that quantity and type of weaponry and warlike equipment. Where was the explosive for the bombing campaign coming from?

Given that the weapons and other equipment are said by the NZ Police to have been sourced from Trade Me and legitimate arms and other suppliers do the police contend that these sources could also provide the quantity and type of weaponry required for the alleged terrorist or criminal activities, particularly the takeover and occupation of Ngai Tuhoe traditional lands.

Have the NZ Police produced any evidence that the weaponry and equipment could be acquired by smuggling from offshore sources, or from the criminal gangs, or by theft from the military and from gun collectors?

Source of funding

There was no analysis to estimate what funding would be required to mount and sustain the alleged planned activities.

Is there any evidence that the group had access to the money needed to mount and sustain the alleged activities; whether from offshore or onshore sources? All of my evidence suggests that they were all skint. They had no money.

Logistic support

There was no analysis of the logistic support required to mount the alleged planned activities.

How was the group planning to provide food and shelter, clothing and equipment, transport and petrol, secure communications, safe houses, medical support, and ammunition resupply?

Fitness to fight

There was no analysis of the health and fitness of the participants in the alleged planned terrorist or criminal activities to indicate whether they were physically capable of those activities.

It appears from the NZ Police evidence that many of the leaders of the group were overweight and some were known to be diabetic and to have cardiac weakness, especially the alleged ringleaders.

Support from Ngai Tuhoe

Was there any robust analysis of what support any sort of armed insurrection within the Urewera area would have actually had from the majority of Ngai Tuhoe people. And whether or not there were Ngai Tuhoe people who would spill the beans to the police iwi liaison network.

Nothing, absolutely nothing

There was none of that analysis. No military specialists were brought in to advise them. It might have made the police think again. And that’s not what they wanted.

Was there an overall purpose to the wananga in the Urewera?

From the moment the police found out about the wananga they assumed that there was a strategy behind it, an overall purpose revolving around the revolutionary trash talk and the war games. I made the same assumption although unlike the police I kept an open mind about what that purpose might be. Maybe that key assumption was way off track. Maybe we were all wrong about that.

What if there was no purpose to it. What if the wananga was just an organic, evolving thing that embraced whatever the participants brought to the wananga. What if Taame Iti was just the facilitator for other people’s concerns and fantasies rather than the Che Guevara of Ngai Tuhoe.

What was Taame Iti’s usual method of operating? So now we need to back right up and compile a complete profile on Taame Iti. I’m not going to do it here but it should have been done properly, not by a bunch of Pakeha cops Googling the Web and searching through court records, but by informed and knowledgeable Maori with access to informed sources. For starters they could have looked at the principles that have guided not just his activism but also his family and community life. They would have discovered in addition to his Ngai Tuhoe nationalism and activism a strong sense of social justice, and a long history of community service out of the public eye including as a union worker and a mental health worker.

They would have discovered that there does not seem to be a great deal of deliberate strategy and planning behind his long running activism but more protest and demonstration around events as they unfold, always governed by his sense of social justice and his dedication to the Ngai Tuhoe cause. Others like Tamati Kruger are the ones who strategise and plan for Ngai Tuhoe. Prior to that the ultra-conservative Tuhoe-Waikaremoana Maori Trust Board held sway.

So if they’d looked closer at Taame Iti they might have discovered lots of ideas but no grand strategies. The principle at work here is “know thy enemy” rather than some tired old stereotype you think you know. That’s why Maori cops were needed on the job. The Taame Iti they know is a totally different person to the tired old stereotype the Pakeha cops think they know.

My investigations suggest that Taame Iti didn’t start those wananga himself and that they had been going for a while before he inherited them. What Taame seems to have done is to invite others from outside Ngai Tuhoe who in turn brought others. Looking through the lists of suspects, most of whom were not charged with anything, I recognise the names of activists who were not directly connected to Taame but were in the networks of others that he brought into the wananga.

So let’s consider another scenario. The wananga were proceeding as they had for years. Then Rangi Kemara was invited and brought his hobby of collecting firearms and other military equipment. It’s called militaria and there’s a whole community of militaria collectors out there. They have their own website. Many of them are involved in various forms of war games as part of their hobby. Tuhoe Lambert brought his experiences as a soldier and a few other attributes I will explore in a profile of him in a later post. His war games were based in the reality he knew in Vietnam. Jamie Lockett was invited and brought his obsession with the police and his bullshit and bravado and not much else.

The activists from Wellington and elsewhere brought their causes. The hot cause that united most of them at the time was the descent into a police state after 9/11, or so it seemed to them and to many others. Conveniently George W. Bush was in Australia in September 2007 and was the target of much of their ire.

The cause of the moment in the Urewera was the Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe and the claim and settlement process. These things all came together accompanied by a solid dose of wishful thinking, some trash talk, bullshit and bravado and merged and evolved into what seemed to be a conspiracy against the state. But was it?

There you go. That’s another scenario based on a different key assumption; that there was no purpose to it all. Mix that one up with elements of some of the eight scenarios above and you might get somewhere closer to the truth. And it won’t be a clean and tidy scenario with a clear cut purpose. It will be an experience without an end in sight, something like a performance in improvised theatre; making it up as it went along. That sounds more like the Taame Iti I know.

Are you any the wiser? Of course you’re not. But would you, in October 2007, have been so sure of your facts that you would have launched the cowboys in black fancy dress into an armed paramilitary operation against the whole community of Ruatoki?

Based on the evidence the police had collected by then I would have sent the local cop down the road to find out what was really going on and to tell Taame to pull his head in because he was making the Pakeha boys in blue a bit over excited. If Superintendent Wally Haumaha had not been deliberately excluded he could have told the Pakeha cops to cool it while he found out what was really going on.

Because no one knew what was going on. A few cops thought they knew. That’s what the evidence shows.

Here’s an intriguing thought. Maybe the police didn’t want to explore that far into the possibility space because they didn’t believe their own terrorism narrative anyway. That would raise some seriously embarrassing questions about why they launched the paramilitary operation, and why Helen Clark and her Cabinet condoned it and tried to justify it.. Best be seen to be dishonest and incompetent.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The evidence and police spying methods

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

There was a lot of evidence and this is a very long post (9,114 words).

The previous post in this series examined the threads that led into Operation 8. In this post we will examine the information or evidence collected by the police to weave into those threads to create their terrorism narrative. It is also a revealing look at police spying.

The information collected by the Northern Special Investigation Group (SIG) amounted to over 100,000 pages and a stack of video recordings. In writing this post and the previous one I have read through hundreds of pages of court documents, interception warrants, affidavits and other material. I have watched the video evidence again. Over a period of months I have spent over two hundred hours summarising and analysing all of it.

The collection of information involved dozens of detectives and other police officers with meticulous attention to detail. That was the collection and collation that was meticulous, not the analysis.

Based on nearly 52 years’ experience dealing with people in various fields in the public, private and community sectors I broadly categorise the way people work into three types:

  • Those who focus on the detail and build understanding upwards from the detail into a coherent picture;
  • Those who focus on the big picture and don’t bother about the detail; and
  • Those who first discern the big picture (or pictures) from an overview of the detail before they delve into the detail to confirm or contradict those impressions.

It is of course a generalisation and it is stereotyping but it is a useful if not entirely accurate stereotyping. I try to include a mix of types in the teams I put together for tasks or projects.

Those who start with the detail are prone to cognitive bias, to making and forming unsubstantiated assumptions and conclusions from bits and pieces of detail without actually seeing the big picture. Big picture people on the other hand are equally prone and fall into other cognitive biases by not confirming their initial impressions against the detail. The best intelligence analysts are those who start with the big picture (or pictures) and then delve into the detail. Starting with the big picture does not mean forming a fixed opinion and then seeking out the detail to confirm that opinion. It requires an open mind, able to work with ambiguity, prepared to question any assumptions and conclusions reached in the process and to start again if necessary. In delving into the detail the good analyst always keeps one eye on the big picture so as not to lose sight of every potential interpretation.

As Miyamoto Musashi the famous samurai strategist wrote in another context in the 17th Century in his classic text “Go Rin No ShoThe Book of Five Rings”:

“Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things”.

“Sharpen the twofold gaze, perception and sight”.

The impression I get from the police documentation is that poor old Detective Sergeant (now Detective Senior Sergeant) Aaron Lee Pascoe must be a details person with a single gaze – sight alone. To be fair to poor old Aaron his bosses were the same. For the Operation 8 intelligence process was indeed meticulous in the collection of information and in the collation of that information into a cohesive narrative. But I have come to the conclusion that there was no competent analysis that would have turned all of that information into intelligence, and indeed no analysis that would have identified gaps or holes in the information that needed to be collected before reaching any firm conclusions. I have a suspicion based on a reading of the documentation that there was no meaningful expert analysis at all.

The proof of my assertion is that their preferred terrorism narrative fell over at the first hurdle when prosecutions under the Suppression of Terrorism Act were disallowed by the Solicitor General in November 2007. Their fall back narrative which was “participation in a criminal group” fell over in front of a jury in March 2012.

I will describe the evidence the police collected in nine categories and a tenth they didn’t get to:

  1. Finding suspects through network analysis;
  2. Profiling the suspects;
  3. Informant information;
  4. Who attended the wananga and when, and what were they wearing;
  5. Covert reconnaissance and observation;
  6. Video in the bush;
  7. Weapons and Molotov Cocktails;
  8. What were they saying?
  9. What did the police think they were planning? and
  10. What were they really planning?

The intelligence process never quite got to the last point which is surely the whole point of the intelligence process. The police and the prosecution later tried to infer a number of probable acts, firstly terrorist acts then criminal acts, but they could not back any of it with solid intelligence. They were relying on conjecture to get them over the line.

The surveillance warrants for February, March and April 2007 were based on alleged or suspected offences under the Crimes Act 1961. From May to October 2007 the warrants were issued under the Crimes Act 1961 and the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002, indicating either that the police had formed their terrorism conclusion and narrative as early as May 2007, or that they simply wanted to use the greater powers of the Suppression of Terrorism Act to get around the legal constraints on the surveillance they wanted to do. Both may well be true.

The May 2007 warrant application to the Court by Detective Inspector Bruce Good indicates that by then the “analysts” had already decided on a terrorism narrative:

“The purpose of this application is to obtain evidence of terrorist offences as outlined in paragraph 2 above which I believe have been committed and to prevent further terrorist offences being committed”.

They had not of course uncovered any terrorist offences by May 2007, nor did they ever uncover any. But they proceeded as though they had. They had already made up their minds and proceeded to mould their evidence around that conclusion.

But first, on a personal note …

The trail of evidence shows that on 3rd October 2006 the police compiled a profile on me and on other members of my staff. From then until 20th December 2006 they did five background checks on me including a check on my military background. On 20th December 2006 the names of 58 suspects were submitted to the Army to check if any had military service. I was one of the suspects. The check returned five positives including me. As far as I am aware none of the other four had anything to do with the wananga. So they were very interested in me and they dug deep including doing a background check on my whanau. They didn’t get far with that – a daughter was not registered with my surname and two other children were registered in Australia.

They were certainly trying to tie me into their narrative. Given the relative poverty of most of their targets they might have needed to find someone who was funding the “terrorists”, or maybe even a military master mind, to make their narrative complete. Who knows what they were thinking. They may also have pulled my mobile phone records from Vodafone but they would have been very disappointed. I hardly ever use it, certainly not for phone calls and only rarely for text messaging.

Nevertheless they now have me in their intelligence database where presumably I will remain forever. I don’t think they have my fingerprints or DNA yet. Perhaps they’ve downloaded my poetry looking for intimations of terrorist inclination in my random musings. I hope they load the contents of this blog site into their database too, as a permanent record of their incompetence.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, back to the evidence.

Casting around for suspects

Operation 8 appears to have been formally launched on 10th May 2006 with a request to Telecom for call data relating to John Murphy.

  • For the first month it was an Auckland and Canterbury centred operation focused mostly on Jamie Lockett, John Murphy, Kelvyn Alp, Kyle Chapman, and Jason Orme; a right wing conspiracy.
  • It had picked up Taame Iti through his association with Lockett and Murphy. There were only a few other Maori in the network analysis at that time. They included the late Milton Hohaia because he had been in contact with Taame Iti. A background check noted that in 1998 Milton was part of a protest group at Waitangi and he was linked to an associate of Taame Iti.
  • In that time they must have picked up information that wananga were being run in the Urewera and that Lockett was or would be attending them. Two police officers, D. Petherick and M. Cartwright, travelled to Whakatane and Te Urewera on 26 June 2006 “in attempt to locate camps”.
  • Through to the end of September 2006 the operation was still focused on Jamie Lockett, John Murphy, Taame Iti and Milton Hohaia. On 13 September 2006 profiles of all Taame Iti’s known associates were logged into the Operation 8 evidence.
  • By 3 October 2006 I was linked into the network, possibly through telephone calls made to Rangi Kemara at my office by Taame Iti and Jamie Lockett. By 4 October 2006 Rangi Kemara had been linked into the network.
  • By 18 October 2006 Emily Bailey from Wellington was linked, and by 24 October 2006 Marama Mayrick was in. The link was made to Urs Signer by 30 October 2006 probably through his girlfriend Emily.
  • In October 2006 the links from Taame into the activist networks had been made. From that time network analysis (see below) brought more and more suspects into the net.
  • In mid-November 2006 a police party deployed into the “Urewera forest” to conduct reconnaissance and a scene examination. They set up an observation post and heard shots being fired as though they were a shooting practice on a military firing range.
  • Through November and December 2006 more people were added to the network which started to widen and deepen. Taame Iti, Jamie Lockett and Rangi Kemara were the central figures in the network.
  • By early in 2007 the focus had shifted from Auckland to the wananga in the Urewera.
  • In mid-January 2007 a family tree for the Iti whanau was compiled and a check was made in “TESA” and revealed 54 subscribers with the last name “Iti”. At the same time family trees for the Lambert, Bailey, Himona and other whanau were being compiled and bank accounts were being accessed.
  • Reports of activist activity under surveillance in Wellington by the Wellington SIG were also added to the evidence.
  • There was a report on an anti-Howard (Australian PM) demonstration on 16 February 2007. The names mentioned were V. Morse, U. Signer, M. Eden and R. Gilchrist. Rob Gilchrist was the police intelligence informant and agent provocateur. Another report and photos on an anti-war demonstration at Parliament on 20 March 2007 was logged. Names were V. Morse, U. Signer and L. Rochford.

In the early months of Operation 8 network analysis was the main activity, casting around for people to link into the network of suspects.

All of the police documentation and evidence states that Operation 8 began in December 2005 with “collating and analysing intelligence relating to a group of political extremists who are meeting and receiving military firearms training in an isolated area of bush in New Zealand.” However the Operation 8 evidence strongly suggests that not to be the case. It suggests that it was an operation aimed initially at Jamie Lockett and that it did not focus on Taame Iti and his wananga in the Urewera until mid-May 2006.

The evidence alleging “terrorism” and presented to the courts in affidavits (to obtain warrants) and in trial evidence also relates mostly to the nine month period from January to October 2007. The police seem to have deliberately fudged the original intent of Operation 8 and the length of the operation, perhaps in order to add credence to their terrorism narrative.

The network was built from a bunch of Pakeha with Taame Iti on the periphery, and changed over time to a network with Taame Iti at its centre. The police were also reading text messages through the latter half of 2006 indicating some activity in the Urewera and began to try to locate and monitor that activity. The network analysis continued throughout the whole of Operation 8.

Network Analysis

This form of intelligence gathering is as old as the hills, building data on the social networks of targeted individuals and groups to find out who they are talking to or conspiring with. In my day we used to compile computerised database profiles of individuals and networks (foreign not domestic), and gradually build their profiles, but the harvesting and data entry was mostly by hand. In these modern times it has become a high art form (for IT geeks and mathematicians) through the automated harvesting of email, landline, mobile phone, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other communications and social media metadata and content. Sophisticated algorithms are then used to digitally analyse that metadata (i.e. who is talking to who), combined with time and frequency analysis, to build pictures of inner and outer networks and to predict likely conspirators or terrorist and criminal networks. A lot of that data can be obtained from open sources without warrant just by harvesting what is freely available on the Internet, and sophisticated software is commercially available to do just that.

Operation 8 was not that sophisticated and it appears that after harvesting metadata mostly from mobile phone communications but also from email and landline communications the Northern SIG team did the analysis the old way with pencil and paper, or spreadsheets perhaps. The phone metadata was obtained from Telecom and Vodafone under warrant. As new phone numbers were added to the networks the harvesting from Telecom and Vodafone increased from month to month with new phone numbers added to the electronic sweep. A great deal of effort was put into identifying the people associated with the phone numbers. Most but not all of them were identified.

The police were receiving daily emails from Telecom and Vodafone providing metadata and text messages from landlines and mobile phones.

They also used the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) code to identify mobile phones. Every mobile phone has a unique IMEI code. The SIM card is identified by the phone number. The phone itself is identified by the IMEI code. The IMEI code of a phone on the mobile network can be obtained under warrant from the provider, in this case either Telecom or Vodafone. In at least one instance they used the IMEI code to identify a user who was changing SIM cards on the one mobile phone. By identifying the use of one SIM card they were able to identify the same user on the other SIM card.

By far the most effort was put into the mobile phone networks. They tried to intercept the AoCafe forum and encrypted chat group communication for the juicy encrypted stuff without much success. Visual and video surveillance was also used to discover who people were associating with and talking to. A lot of effort was also put into the visual and video surveillance of individuals to track them from their homes to Ruatoki to prove that they were attending the wananga. Many of them travelled together, met along the way, or met at their destination. So that surveillance served the dual purpose of network analysis and wananga attendance.

The police also used the Births, Deaths and Marriages register at Internal Affairs not just to find birth details of their suspects but also to discover marriage and other relationships. They were not just building social networks but familial networks or family trees as well. With no Maori on their intelligence team they didn’t build the tribal networks.

In their network analysis they spread the net far and wide. It is quite standard practice to build the networks out to at least three degrees of separation, that is, out to three connections from the target. That can bring a lot of people into the network. In my case I was just one degree of separation from at least five of the primary targets or suspects. Which partially explains why they were so interested in me for about three months in 2006. Most people who were background checked would still be unaware that they were but if you talk to someone who talks to Taame Iti or one of the other primary suspects you might have been checked.

Network analysis does not provide definitive proof of past, present or planned activity but it is a valuable starting point for more targeted intelligence collection by other means. It was for instance the method by which Osama bin Laden was eventually tracked to his compound in Abbotabad in Pakistan even though bin Laden used no electronic communications at all. It was done through the identification and tracking of his most trusted courier.

The thing about network analysis is that it is a blunt instrument, especially now that everyone carries a mobile phone and phone metadata can legally be harvested by GCSB and passed to the police. I would think that network analysis out to about 5 degrees of relationship would scoop up just about every New Zealander into a suspect database.

Scary stuff.

Now that the Police have Facebook and Twitter to harvest it gets even scarier. For instance the average Facebook user has 190 “Friends”. So if you start with my own 500 Friends, my Friends have 95,000 Friends, and their Friends have over 18,000,000 Friends.

Much  scarier isn’t it. And time consuming and counter-productive of course.

Profiling the suspects

As new suspects were added to the network the police built profiles on them. The profiles on their main suspects were quite shallow, especially those on Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert and Rangi Kemara. Deeper profiling would have yielded more valuable information and would perhaps have led the intelligence gathering in different directions. These are most of the sources of information that were accessed:

  • Police intelligence database (NIA – National Intelligence Application);
  • Police weapons licence records;
  • Court records;
  • Births, deaths and marriages register;
  • Electoral rolls;
  • Defence Department personnel records;
  • Banking records;
  • Credit card statements;
  • Companies Office database;
  • Transactions on TradeMe and at other traders;
  • Power company client records;
  • TradeMe;
  • Overseas travel movements, in one case as far back as 1983, another from 1992;
  • WINZ records;
  • Passport office records;
  • Customs records (airport arrivals and departures);
  • Property ownership records;
  • Vehicle ownership records;
  • Car registration records;
  • NZ Post records;
  • CCTV footage;
  • Web searches; and
  • Newspaper articles.

There is no indication that tax records were accessed but they certainly would have been available.

The police almost certainly ran their network of suspects through the NZSIS database. There are several items in the Operation 8 evidence with the notation “Document withheld”. Some of those probably refer to NZSIS background checks and possibly to information from GCSB. They may also contain undeclared evidence of further unlawful or illegal surveillance activity by the police.

Public and private information about individual New Zealanders is becoming increasingly digitised. Data matching, data mining and data correlation are becoming increasingly automated. Governments are giving more and more surveillance powers to the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. They will very soon have access to every individual’s complete set of private information from the keyboard. The collection and collation of information as it was done during Operation 8 will become more and more automated, faster, more efficient and increasingly commonplace.


The warrant served on TradeMe by Detective Sergeant Pascoe was outrageously broad and collected information on something like 3000 accounts.

“Then there’s Detective Dean Winter who left the police very quietly in 2006 and then surfaced in a cushy job as head of security with Fairfax’s online auction site TradeMe only to again be quietly shoved out the door when he was caught colluding with detective sergeant Aaron Pascoe, the cop responsible for the seriously dodgy October 2007 “Operation 8″, to pass on information the police were certainly not entitled to”.

Informant information

Informants are officially known as Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) and are registered and managed (or handled) by the Covert Operations Group (COG). They are available to the various Police operational units.

The Operation 8 documentation shows that at least two registered police informants provided information during the operation, and that there were possibly another two or three registered or casual informants:

  • one was Auckland based and provided the most informant information to Operation 8, specifically in relation to Jamie Lockett and his supposed involvement in terrorism training in the Urewera;
  • one was probably based in Wellington and provided some information about the Wellington based activists;
  • one provided information about Taame Iti in mid-2006;
  • there may have been another who provided limited information about the timing of some of the wananga in the Urewera, but this may be the same person as the one above;
  • a further person who was interviewed by the Operation 8 team and may have provided some general information about attitudes, beliefs and intentions; and
  • the Operation 8 team had access to profiles built on various people by the Threat Assessment Unit who also used informants to build their database.

This form of Intelligence is known as HUMINT (Human Intelligence). In the modern world of Intelligence there is often too much emphasis placed on non-HUMINT sources. It is now relatively easy to intercept, photograph and video. However the most important information should be about the suspects’ intentions to act, or not to act. That requires someone, a person, to gain access to the minds of the suspects, to their thinking. It requires the use of undercover agents or reliable informants.

By deliberately excluding Superintendent Wallace Haumaha and his team from Operation 8 the Police had no way of gaining insights into the real thinking and intentions of their suspects and had to resort to unverified assumptions.

Who attended the wananga and when, and what were they wearing

The police put much effort into this aspect of their intelligence collection. They needed to prove that individuals attended specific wananga on specific dates. They did that through network analysis to generally identify those in the network, and by visual and video surveillance to track individuals to Ruatoki.

They also used text messages obtained under warrant from Telecom and Vodafone. The dates for wananga were notified by text message. Individuals confirmed that would be attending by text, arranged to pick each other up or to meet along the way by text, and told each other where they were or when they would be arriving by text. Almost all of the coordination of the wananga was by text message. It was a rich source of information for the police and they were reading it for months.

Throughout most of 2007 the police were covertly (and unlawfully) video recording some of the activity at the wananga. They used that video footage to identify specific individuals involved in specific activities and to do that they relied in part on the clothing people were wearing. That is the reason why the “termination” warrant specified so many items of clothing that they were looking for, and the reason why they seized so much clothing during the searches on 15th October 2007. Some of those who were subjected to the searches report the police being particularly excited when they discovered items of clothing with the Tino Rangatiratanga flag emblem. I’m lucky the detectives didn’t discover the two TR flags at my office; one large flag and one small storm flag. I could have been done for possession of a TR flag.

Much of the clothing they were looking for was so generic, worn by so many people, that some of the clothing seizures resembled high farce at the time.

Despite the effort the Police put into identifying participants they came to this conclusion in October 2007:

  • not all attendees at the training camps had been identified by Police;
  • intelligence suggested there was an unknown “local group” in the area who could pose a threat to Police; and
  • the feelings of the community towards the participants in the training camps were largely unknown and thus it was stated that “the existence of sympathisers and supporters for their cause cannot be discounted”

The first was a statement of fact. The second and third conclusions were in fact nothing more than wild assumptions.

Cellphone location tracking

There is no evidence that the police wirth the assistance of GCSB accessed the global cellphone location tracking capability of the NSA. However there were several evidential documents withheld from the defence lawyers. Cellphone providers can also track phones under warrant. There is also technology such as the “Stinger” device available to police forces to conduct their own warrantless cellphone location tracking.

These technologies do not appear to have been used in Operation 8 but in the Police affidavits there were redacted paragraphs that referred to “Police Surveillance Techniques”.

EFTPOS location tracking

The police had access to banking records as part of their profiling process but they also used EFTPOS records to track the movement of suspects as they travelled to and from the Urewera.

Covert reconnaissance and observation

Throughout Operation 8 covert surveillance and “tailing” on foot and in vehicles was conducted on several suspects. Routine sighting reports were filed by police officers who saw them going about their daily lives. Some came into more intense surveillance than others. Examples are:

  • Jamie Lockett was followed around Auckland as he went about his daily life.
  • Video surveillance was in place for months outside the house where Rangi Kemara lived in Auckland. He was also followed around Auckland.
  • Surveillance was conducted on his workplace.
  • On 26 June 2007 Valerie Morse was seen walking up Adelaide Road, Wellington.
  • On 9 July 2007 “Emily Bailey spots cops at Railway Station taking photos of her”.
  • 28 August 2007. Valerie Morse flew into Wellington Airport. Picked up by Urs Signer and Emily Bailey. Several reports indicate that the airlines may well have been required to notify advance travel plans of suspects.

Some attempts were made to carry out visual reconnaissance and surveillance in the bush at Urewera. It seems not to have been very successful. Surveillance of the wananga was then carried out by placing video cameras at wananga sites before the wananga and later retrieving them.

  • On 21 April 2006 Constable Macey was hiking when he came across Taame Iti and others at “a makeshift camp”. No weapons were present. This routine intelligence report was added to the Operation 8 evidence on 29 June 2006 after the operatrion turned its attention to Taame.
  • On 22 June 2006 “Petherick and Cartwright travel to Whakatane and Te Urewera to attempt to locate camps”. The surveillance on Jamie Lockett and Taame Iti had by then learned of the wananga.
  • On 15 November 2006 Detective Senior Sergeant Jago (now Detective Inspector) travelled to the Urewera with his team to install video cameras. He was accompanied by a team from the Special Tactics Group (STG) including Sergeant Mark Miller and Senior Constable Tony Masterton. The STG team was there until 19 October 2006. They carried out some audio surveillance but did not manage any visual surveillance.
  • On 9 January 2007 Miller and Masterton and others again travelled to the Urewera to install video cameras and conduct on-the-ground surveillance. They were there until 15 January 2007 and again on 23 January 2007 to retrieve the cameras.
  • From then until October 2006 video cameras were installed at the time of each monthly wananga except for the March 2007 wananga which was cancelled.

Audio and visual surveillance of the wananga activities did not contribute much to the collection of information and seems to have been abandoned after the January 2007 wananga in favour of video surveillance only. All of the covert reconnaissance, covert audio surveillance, and the covert visual and video surveillance on private land without permission was unlawful.

Video surveillance

The police conducted or attempted to conduct video surveillance at seven of the wananga on the following dates:

  • 17 – 18 November 2006
  • 10 – 13 January 2007
  • 27 – 28 April 2007
  • 22 – 23 June 2007
  • 17 – 18 August 2007
  • 14 – 15 September 2007
  • 12 – 13 October 2007

They were aware that wananga were being held from about June 2006. They had some evidence that Jamie Lockett attended one in September 2006. The wananga for 27 – 28 March was cancelled.

The video footage was used as evidence to show what some of the wananga participants were doing in the Urewera. It did not however provide any indication of why they were doing it.

As it was visually sensational (except to the expert military eye) it became the pivotal evidence around which police and prosecution built their case in the courts, and in the media after suppression was lifted. Visual evidence of this nature is far more compelling than documentary or verbal evidence and far more powerful in that it has a subliminal effect, entering directly into the unconscious minds of the public, jurors (and judges) without passing through the filter of the conscious mind.

The police and prosecution fought hard through several court appearances over a four year period to retain this pivotal evidence as admissible even though it was unlawfully obtained. They succeeded in the case against the final four accused, the “Urewera Four”.

To the trained eye and conscious mind of the military expert the video footage showed three distinct activities although the police chose through their lack of expertise, and for the purposes of their own terrorism narrative, to conflate the three activities into a single terrorism scenario:

  • Most of the activity was weapon training and infantry minor tactics including patrolling and contact drills, presumably conducted by Vietnam veteran Tuhoe Lambert perhaps with other expert assistance;
  • A demonstration of tactics used by civilian military contractors in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. These involved personal protection (bodyguarding) and convoy counter-ambush drills. The police chose to ignore the evidence that this was an entirely different activity and to interpret it within their terrorism narrative.
  • Experimenting with “Molotov Cocktails”, homemade incendiary devices made from bottles filled with petrol and/or other inflammable liquid.

None of that activity on its own was actually illegal unless it could be shown through other information that it was intended as training or rehearsal for terrorist or criminal acts.

War games or infantry minor tactics

Having watched the video footage many times I am still of the expert military opinion that the standard of “training” was so superficial and so inexpert that none of the participants would have been proficient enough to go to war against anyone, let alone the NZ Police or NZ military, whether as individuals or as part of a terrorist team. From my military perspective they were playacting and even if some of them really believed that they were becoming foot soldiers for the cause they were dreaming. That much could be determined just from watching them, and their “trainer” Tuhoe Lambert would have known that too.

Nevertheless the video footage was accepted at face value and fitted into the terrorism narrative.

A study of the uprisings in North Africa provides an interesting perspective. Whilst the instigators of those uprisings were political activists the shock troops who led the fighting were the Ultras. The Ultras are the tribal football fans across Europe and North Africa who battle each other in the streets on a weekly basis and fight vicious battles with the police who try to restore order. They are combat hardened and tactically sound, especially when fighting against the police. In Tunisia, Egypt and Libya the Ultras from opposing football clubs combined forces and were in the vanguard of all of the fighting. In Libya they were joined by Libyan military defectors and by special forces from other countries. In Egypt the Ultras were supported by the Muslim Brotherhood youth wing. It takes more than an activist and a dreamer to make a fighter.

The Operation 8 team did no analysis on the capability of those they saw in the videos to actually carry out what they were accused of. None of the main accused, Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert and Rangi Kemara, were physically capable of leading the activities they were accused of. They were all overweight and unfit, one had diabetes and another was suffering from debilitating heart disease. There were no alternative leaders or combat leaders identified. Below them, after a few weekends in the bush at which there was only sporadic attendance except by the core group of activists, there were no combat ready troops.

There would be only two groups of Maori who would be able to fulfil that role, the criminal gangs and ex-military personnel. In the early phases of Operation 8 the police searched for ex-military personnel who might be involved including looking closely at me. They found only Tuhoe Lambert and later Rau Hunt. Knowing the military and ex-military community as well as I do I would be very much surprised to find military or ex-military personnel involved in terrorism or similar criminal activity. Most of us really are loyal New Zealanders who believe in our oath of fealty to Queen and country, as corny as that sounds. Accepting however that there are always exceptions to the rule I would expect that the contract price for an ex-military gunman would far exceed the ability of Taame Iti and his band to pay.

There have been many revolutionary dreamers who have fantasised about involving the gangs as shock troops in their revolutions. The gangs are not motivated by politics. They are motivated by money and their price is beyond the means of armchair revolutionaries and Taame Iti. The police did access the bank accounts of their primary suspects and would have found that all of them were skint.

Civilian military contractors

Despite the fact that the “trainer” in the October video, Rau Hunt, was in real life a civilian military contractor with experience in Iraq the police chose to ignore the relevance of that.

The October video showed that the activity at that wananga was almost entirely a demonstration of the techniques employed by civilian military contractors. Their skills are based on military skills including a high level of training in infantry minor tactics but their job is different. They provide close protection or bodyguards for civilians in the warzone. A major part of their job is also the protection of vehicles and convoys, and fixed installations, from attack or ambush. Their vehicle counter ambush drills are based on military drills that we all learnt and practised as part of basic infantry training.

One of the drills was clearly a counter ambush drill in which the client or VIP was hustled out of and away from the vehicle under attack. The standard drill is to get the client into another vehicle and away from the ambush, or to a safe location out of the line of fire, until the operators (bodyguards) are able to win the firefight and contain the situation. The police chose to interpret that as kidnapping.

At the trial in 2012 the prosecution’s own expert military witness agreed under cross examination that the scenario could have been a rescue from an ambush, especially as the person being taken from the car was not restrained.

In March 2012 I informally interviewed Rau Hunt who is a retired naval petty officer. His understanding was that Taame Iti had invited him to the wananga to see if any of the younger men would be suitable to be trained and employed as civilian military contractors. It is lucrative if dangerous employment. Rau and I agreed that it was unlikely that anyone without a strong military or police background would be suitable to be employed. He has since confirmed that none of those at the October wananga went on to employment as a civilian military contractor.

Rau Hunt was nevertheless accused and charged. The charges against him were eventually dropped after the Supreme Court ruled the video evidence unlawful. I find it highly unlikely that a professional like Rau Hunt would put a lucrative livelihood at risk for any hair brained terrorism scheme such as the one the police alleged. It simply doesn’t make sense. The lack of expert intelligence analysis by the police, and their single minded focus on only one interpretation of the information they collected and collated, put an innocent man’s career on hold for six years.

I empathise with Rau as the police tried to take down my business at Parnell on 15th October 2007 and in doing so would have put me and my staff out of employment. We stopped it in the High Court. Like Rau Hunt we too were all innocent bystanders.

The introduction of a civilian military contractor to the wananga in October 2007 might have indicated a shift in direction away from the war games that had been the focus to that point. It might not. It is the job of intelligence managers and analysts to find out. However the police chose to ignore that possibility and to assume that the demonstration by Rau Hunt was part of their terrorism narrative and to carry on with their armed paramilitary operation which was already in the process of being launched. That was a failure of analysis.

Weapons and Molotov Cocktails

Molotov Cocktails

A Molotov Cocktail is an incendiary device originally devised for use against armoured and other vehicles. It is basically a bottle containing petrol and/or other inflammable fluids with a cloth wick attached. The wick is lit and the bottle thrown at the target. When the bottle breaks the fuel ignites. The bottle needs to be of a type that holds enough fuel to be effective and not so strong that it doesn’t break on impact. In my day when we learned about booby traps and other improvised weapons the old fashioned milk bottle was an ideal container.

The Molotov Cocktail is known to be used in Europe and elsewhere by anarchists in their battles with the authorities, including police.

After the August and September 2007 wananga the police recovered several beer bottles from the area. They were mainly Steinlager bottles and a few Crown lager bottles. There was evidence (cloth and fuel) that they had been used as Molotov Cocktails. Several were broken and several had been used but did not break. They had been thrown against an old oven. The video footage from one wananga showed some individuals throwing what seemed to be bottles.

I used the term “experimenting with Molotov Cocktails” in the previous section because it was obvious to me that they were not proper Molotov cocktails. I could have described it as playing with Molotov cocktails.

They used the wrong sort of bottle to start with. The small beer bottles are very hard to break. I believe that they are made that way to prevent them from being easily broken and used as weapons to “glass’ people. There were a number of bottles produced in evidence by the police that were not broken even though they seemed to have been thrown. To make sure they would break on impact the Steinlager bottles would need to be thrown with great force against a hard target such as a vehicle, or an old oven. Ideally a Molotov cocktail should break even when lobbed onto a street surface.

The cloth wicks were also stuffed into the top of the bottles. The proper way to make a Molotov Cocktail is to wrap the cloth wick around the neck of the bottle to ensure that the fuel ignites after the bottle breaks, and not before. A cork or stopper can then be put into the neck of the bottle to make sure it doesn’t leak fuel before impact.

These were not real working Molotov Cocktails and some of them didn’t work anyway.

During the trial the prosecution could not produce evidence to show what they might have been used against. However like the video footage the bottles produced in court were pivotal evidence for the same reason. It was subliminal visual evidence that would sway a jury despite other evidence. At one point it was suggested by the prosecution that the Molotov Cocktails could have been used to set fire to a forest. I would set fire to a forest using a jerry can of petrol and a box of matches.

Playing or experimenting with Molotov Cocktails is not against the law although the law was bent in this case to describe them as illegal restricted weapons. Using them against persons or property is illegal and the police did not have evidence of that.

The weapons

In addition to the Molotov Cocktails a motley collection of rifles of various calibres and a small number of shotguns were seen carried by the wananga participants during their tactical exercises. A pistol was also seen but evidence suggests that it was a replica or a starting pistol. The weapons were seen in January, April, June, August, September and October for periods of about two days each time. Incidentally that would comprise about 12 days total, hardly a sufficient period to train a terrorist group to any level of proficiency. At some of those wananga shots were heard indicating that some of them were target shooting. There was no evidence that the weapons were loaded at other times. Nine rifles and a shotgun were seized on 15th October 2007.

It is not illegal to carry a rifle and to use it for target shooting if you hold a firearms licence. Rangi Kemara had a current firearms licence for the 6 weapons which were seized from his caravan and car on 15th October 2007. However the charge was that they were “in possession except for some lawful proper and sufficient purpose”. Rangi Kemara had by then become a bit of a collector of firearms. However he bought most of them on lay-by. I know because I paid him and I didn’t pay him enough to indulge in that expensive hobby.

The rifles were also a variety of calibres requiring different sizes of ammunition. That would have been a logistical nightmare keeping up a supply of ammunition to a terrorist group.

There was also police evidence that Rangi Kemara had tried to buy a grenade launcher from a weapons dealer. The only “grenade launcher” available outside the military is not actually a grenade launcher but a flare launcher that imitates a grenade launcher. It is still sold as a grenade launcher. The actual grenade launcher fires 40mm grenades available only to the military. The grenades are very expensive. The imitation grenade launcher has a smaller 37mm calibre and fires 37mm flares. It cannot fire the 40mm grenade. The police obviously did not expertly analyse that piece of evidence and if they did they would not have persisted with their grenade launcher theory unless it suited their narrative to do so.

No evidence was presented to indicate how proficient the accused were in the use of weapons, or whether they were proficient at all.

What were they saying?

None of the foregoing evidence is proof of terrorist or criminal intent regardless of how sensational the presentation of the evidence. To find that proof the police either needed to have an undercover person within the group or to intercept conversations or other communications that would prove intent. They did not have anyone undercover but they did bug several conversations.

Interception devices or bugs are of several types. Some devices intercept and transmit in real time to the Crime Monitoring Centre on Thorndon Quay in Wellington where monitoring staff are on duty 24/7. That type of intercept probably relies on good mobile phone reception. The Crime Monitoring Centre was involved in Operation 8. Some devices can be installed and remotely switched on and off. Some can have the intercepted product retrieved remotely. Others need to be physically retrieved. The technology is evolving rapidly.

Probably the most information was picked up from a bug in Rangi Kemara’s car, especially the conversations between him and Tuhoe Lambert as they travelled to and from the Urewera. In April 2007 over a four day period the police intercepted and recorded 17 hours of conversation between the Rangi and Tuhoe. They also intercepted conversations that Rangi had with various activists who travelled in his car at various times.

They had warrants to bug Taame Iti’s car but did not succeed in placing it until towards the end of Operation 8. They did place a bug in the flat he shared with his partner in Taneatua and recorded several conversations between them and some conversations with other visitors.

A bug or bugs was placed at one venue on one weekend in a “hut” which was actually part of a disused marae. Recordings of several conversations were retrieved.

Text message exchanges were also obtained from Telecom and Vodafone and some of those were about the purposes of the wananga.

This part of the Operation 8 intelligence collection, collation and analysis process deserved the most intense and expert analysis because it goes to the heart of what was intended by the group of suspects and what definite plans, if any, they had to further their intentions. It was not analysed at all. It was simply accepted at face value and added into the evolving terrorism narrative.

This korero was about going to war, about a revolution, about doing robberies to raise funds, about Tuhoe freedom fighters, about studying IRA and Al Qaeda manuals, creating chaos, bombing strategic facilities, urban warfare, obtaining weapons and ammunition, and assassinating the next prime minister (John Key). The korero established that Rangi Kemara has established himself as the weapons “expert”, of sorts.

Jamie Lockett

Reading through Jamie Lockett’s profile and contributions to the korero the first thing I would have done as an analyst would be to sideline him out of the operation. Whatever he is, he is not a political activist or anyone who sympathises with their causes. He definitely did not fit into the Ngai Tuhoe nationalist cause at all. He was purely and simply a man with a deep seated and obsessive grudge against the police. His war talk was bullshit and bravado. His association with the wananga participants quite bizarre.

Perhaps it just suited AMCOS to leave him in the mix and to fit him up with a terrorism conviction. He was after all the initial target of Operation 8.

The Ngai Tuhoe nationalists

The main contributors to this korero were Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert and Rangi Kemara. It was extensive and full of war talk. A lot of their korero was pure fantasy. Surprisingly very little intercepted korero of real substance came from Taame. There was nothing at all to indicate that he had a grand plan or indeed any specific plans. He talked of going to war but only in a general bullshit sense and in generalities. I would have thought that a serious intelligence operation would have put a lot more effort into intercepting his korero. Perhaps GCSB did and it hasn’t been declared. But on the other hand he does tend to speak in riddles.

Not all of the Maori in the suspect group were Ngai Tuhoe nationalists. What would have helped the Operation 8 team to differentiate the Tuhoe nationalists from other Maori would have been a tribal affiliation analysis. They didn’t have the expertise to do that or even to recognise that it would have been useful.

From an analysis of the korero Rangi Kemara seems to have been the main link between the Ngai Tuhoe nationalists and the activists.

The peaceniks, environmentalists, animal rightists, anarchists and others

A lot of the activist korero was intercepted in Rangi Kemara’s car. Some of it was about their own activism interests rather than Ngai Tuhoe nationalism. The Wellington activists seemed focused for a time on an impending visit by President George W. Bush and some of the korero was about assassinating him. Apart from the trash talk about catapulting a bus onto him there was a brief conversation about getting a long range sniper rifle. That was pure fantasy. Apart from that the activists didn’t have much to contribute to the intercepted conversations. A few of them were acquiring weapons but there was no korero about any definite plans.

The impression I got was that the activists were a group separate from the Ngai Tuhoe core and were not really part of the Ngai Tuhoe cause.

Analysis of the korero

As someone with a fairly long association with Maori activists, a 20 year career in the Army including active service, and a background in intelligence analysis I found it difficult to know where to start in an analysis of all of this korero. The Operation 8 team had none of that analytical expertise and didn’t even realise that they needed it. As noted earlier they had excluded their Maori experts anyway. My initial reactions on reading through it the first few times went something like this (excuse the language but I did leave out the “f” words):

  • Shit, this is serious stuff, you really were planning some sort of armed action, what were you thinking you lot;
  • Hah! Bullshit and bravado;
  • What a load of trash talk;
  • Here we go, the boring old revolutionary crap chat again;
  • Nah, you don’t seriously think that you lot could pull that off do you;
  • What a bunch of warrior wannabes;
  • Get real. If I were to command even a small force against you I’d take you all out before you could get out of bed, you dumb-arses;
  • Are you guys crazy;
  • You are crazy;
  • Blah blah blah more trash talk;
  • Yeah right!
  • E hika ma, this is just one big fantasy, or maybe a whole lot of fantasies happening together;
  • This is definitely not what it seems. There’s no way at all that they can live up to their trash talk. It needs to be analysed properly.

That sort of describes it. Disbelief. After several readings my impression was also that it was all horribly unfocused; harum scarum stuff, bullshit and bravado. And there was a lingering question in my mind that needed answering and still does, “Were they hyping themselves up, or was it bullshit and bravado for an audience?  Or both”

I am not alone in my scepticism about the police interpretation of all of this korero. At the court hearing into the prosecution of Fairfax Media for contempt of court almost a year later the Solicitor General David Collins tried to explain to the court that some of the korero contained in the leaked and published affidavit was pure fantasy. He was referring specifically to a korero about assassinating President George W. Bush by catapulting a bus onto his head.

It wasn’t analysed at all. It is so unbelievable that in the first instance I would have backed up on the analysis and compiled deeper profiles on the principal actors with the help of competent psychologists and then used the psychologists to help analyse the intercepted korero. I have compiled such a profile on one of the principals and will publish it at a later date to show that it would have had a direct bearing on the outcome of Operation 8.

As an analyst, for me it raised more questions than answers. It is the job of the analyst to ask the questions and to seek answers to those questions. For the police it just provided the answers they were looking for to flesh out their pre-determined and preferred terrorism narrative. That narrative did not of course pass the test and was ruled out by the Solicitor General a few weeks after 15th October 2007. Their alternative criminal group narrative based on the same faulty analysis or lack of analysis fell over in front of a jury about four years later.

Police Commissioner Broad admitted after the paramilitary operation that the police had no evidence of an impending terrorist act. That means that their intelligence operation had not identified from the intercepted korero any plan to conduct general or specific acts of violence, criminality or terrorism. Broad sort of admitted that an 18 month intelligence operation had nothing specific to predict.

Yet he convinced the Prime Minister and Cabinet otherwise and went ahead with his own unbelievable fantasy and unleashed the cowboys in black fancy dress. The mature leadership response and the professional intelligence response would have been to put more effort into finding out exactly what was going on before going off half-cocked, to use a military analogy.

What did the police think they were planning?

The affidavit presented to the District Court on 10th October 2007 to obtain “termination” warrants authorising the paramilitary operation and dozens of search and seizure raids around the country clearly stated two things:

  • that the Police did not have final conclusive evidence to back up their terrorism narrative; and
  • that they “believed” that as a result of their paramilitary operation and other raids they would uncover the evidence they needed.

Nevertheless these are the conclusions reached by the police from their “analysis” of all their “intelligence”.

 “During these training camps the group has undertaken the following training Activities:

  •  Using firearms, including drills with live rounds
  • Conducting ambush exercises
  • Loading and unloading drills with different weapons
  • Posting sentries around the training areas
  • Patrolling drills using military techniques and contact drills
  • Moving around with firearms in the high ready position
  • Simulating ambushing vehicles
  • Counter interrogation training, which included holding guns to participants’ backs
  • Training in the use of Molotov Cocktails”

“The aims of the group has been shown through the following intercepted communications, which I believe shows they ultimately want to secure an independent Tuhoe Nation, as follows;

  • To be legitimately recognised as an independent nation
  • To gain control of the Urewera National Park
  • To remove ‘Pakeha’ people from their farms

“The type of actions the group intends to achieve their aim has been shown through the following intercepted communications, which I believe amounts committing multiple terrorist acts, which have been described as follows;

  • Using modern styles of war like in Iraq with small squads doing their own missions
  • Killing and Confronting Police
  • Going to war for ten years
  • Small groups going out to cause chaos in the name of Tuhoe
  • A strategic bombing campaign
  • Using extreme violence and actions that would divide Aotearoa
  • Urban Warfare
  • Following the tactics of the IRA
  • Fighting based on Guerrilla tactics
  • The same as what happened with the IRA in England
  • Going to war over the issue of water
  • Actions that are sudden and brutal so people would think it was AI Oaeda
  • Killing John KEY after the next election when he is Prime Minister
  • Killing Pakeha
  • Going to war”

“I believe that the above mentioned persons are part of a group of people who have been training in the Tuhoe Forest, Te Manawa o Tuhoe and Ruatoki Blocks of land and surrounding area wearing camouflage clothing and using military style semi-automatic firearms, Molotov Cocktails and they are committing the offences of Participating in a Terrorist Group, Unlawful Possession of Firearms and Unlawful Possession of Restricted Weapons”.

“Information to date suggests that the group intends to use the firearms to take control of an area of land. I believe that this land will most probably be in the Tuhoe area of New Zealand”.

What were they really planning?

In future posts I will look at other possible scenarios based on the same evidence, had the collected and collated information been properly and expertly analysed. Significantly expert analysis would have raised questions about the single minded terrorist narrative, questions that would have required more information and clearer evidence about the intent of the wananga before launching an all-out paramilitary operation by the cowboys in black fancy dress. I will also look at other factors that would have influenced the building of alternative scenarios.

The trail of evidence

This post is concerned with tracking the evidential trail from its beginnings in network analysis and profiling of suspects to the activities and intent of the wananga conducted in the Urewera. The network analysis was straight forward. Better profiling might have saved them some work. Identifying the dates of the wananga and who attended was straight forward. However as the evidential trail gets closer to 15th October 2007 it becomes less evidential and more speculation and belief, although the events the police witnessed and the conversations they overheard were real enough. What was missing was expert analysis and open minds.

The post also serves to demonstrate how police go about collecting evidence in support of their operations, some of their techniques and processes. It might also serve as a case study for activist security although that is not the intention.

Almost all commentary on Operation 8 has assumed, speculated and theorised that the operation was politically motivated or that it had colonial origins, that it was a continuation of coercive policing of Maori from colonial times, or that it was deliberately aimed at Ngai Tuhoe in general and its long running campaign “Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe”. There were many other theories, most of them passionately argued.

The trail of evidence however shows that it started as an operation aimed at a bunch of right wing Pakeha, possibly trying to link Jamie Lockett and his then mate John Murphy into some serious criminal activity involving Kelvyn Alp, Kyle Chapman and Jason Orme. Through his networking activities Taame Iti of Ngai Tuhoe was linked to John Murphy and Jamie Lockett (see previous post). The late Te Miringa Milton Hohaia of Taranaki (Director of the Parihaka Peace Festival) was an early suspect linked to Taame.

The operation remained Auckland focused and for a while included me (Rangitane, Te Whatuiapiti, Kahungunu) as a prime suspect. At the same time as me Auckland based Rangi Kemara of Ngati Maniapoto became a prime suspect (and remained a suspect right through to the 2012 trial). From Taame and Rangi the network of suspects widened and the focus shifted to the Urewera and to the wananga Taame was facilitating and Rangi was attending, and thence to those from the Urewera and from around the country who also attended the wananga. Lockett remained in the network of suspects. Murphy, Alp, Chapman and Orme dropped out of the picture.

That doesn’t quite fit with any of the conspiracy theories. And it doesn’t completely fit with the terrorism narrative the police eventually put together. Nor does all of the evidence they collected and collated.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Weaving the police “terrorism” narrative

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

which was full of holes

Operation 8 brought together a broad range of activists into the series of wananga facilitated by Taame Iti in the Urewera between 2005 and 2007. It must have seemed like Christmas to the police, especially to police intelligence, who had been watching all or most of them anyway and would never have expected them all to converge on the one place joined together in common purpose; which they later thought was terrorism.

The police spooks must have wet themselves in excitement. They should have paused to ask themselves if it really was possible for a totally disparate bunch of activists to find common illegal purpose, and to keep that illegal purpose secret or expect it to be kept secret, given that  all or most of them knew that they were always or almost always under some sort of surveillance. The excitement prevailed and no-one in police intelligence or in the chain of command stopped to question that assumption. When you’re following your nose into an intelligence operation you really should pause occasionally to draw breath, to look about you for other information that may contradict your nose, and to critically engage the brain.

In the next post I will outline the huge amount of information or evidence the police collected and examine how and why the “analysis” of that information led them into the conclusions they made.

These are some of the threads, general and specific, that were woven together to become Operation 8:

  • 9/11 to 15/10
  • The compact between Labour and Maori destroyed
  • Taame Iti & Tuhoe Lambert;
  • Rangi Kemara & Teanau Tuiono;
  • Jamie Lockett & Phil Le Compte;
  • The anarchists, peace activists, environmentalists and animal rightists;
  • Aotearoa Café;
  • The military connection; and
  • The threads that weren’t.

9/11 to 15/10

The Al Qaeda attacks on the USA on Tuesday 11th September 2001 by mostly Saudi Arabian terrorists, the Bush/Cheney initiated “war on terrorism” that followed, and the security paranoia that began in the the USA and swept across the Western world was a thread that led directly to the armed paramilitary operations at Ruatoki, Taneatua and Manurewa on Monday 15th October 2007.

New Zealand followed the USA lead with the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002 which did not specify any crimes not already covered by the Crimes Act, or which could not have been introduced into the Crimes Act by amendment. Its real purpose was not to specify new crime but to appropriate to the State and its security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies vastly increased powers of surveillance, search, detention, arrest, secrecy and suppression. In doing so it eroded democratic rights and freedoms that had been built into the democratic ideal and practice over many hundreds of years in the pursuit of which countless lives had been sacrificed. All without any appreciable increase in the direct threat to New Zealand or a threat that could not have been dealt with under existing legislation and within existing powers.

The new security regime also imported “security theatre” from the USA through which the paranoia and  empire building foreign policy aspirations of the Bush/Cheney administration were converted into mass public hysteria through lies, propaganda and a range of highly visible “security” measures. In introducing legislation and policies to combat terrorism the Bush/Cheney regime introduced new previously unthinkable mechanisms designed to control the population of the USA. The NZ Government blindly and subserviently followed with its own population control measures.

The increased budgets for the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies spawned a raft of new special units and staffs dedicated to the task of finding and prosecuting terrorists. The NZ Police widened the meaning and scope of terrorism to include domestic political activists, and cynically used their new specialist terrorism intelligence units as political intelligence units. In doing so the police raised the stakes, their own level of paranoia, and the level of antagonism between themselves and political activists to new highs.

During the 1981 Springbok Tour and the sometimes violent confrontations between protesters and police the police weapon was the long baton. By 2007 pepper spray was routinely carried and used, and tasers were on trial. The police also had a paramilitary force armed with pistols, carbines and rifles. Not only had the police raised the level of antagonism between themsleves and political activists, they had also increased their weaponry. And they had demonstrated through their increasingly confrontational tactics when dealing with political activism that they had no respect at all for the democratic right to dissent, demonstrate and protest.

In that climate of internationalised Bush/Cheney paranoia, and increasing NZ Police paranoia, antagonism, aggression and confrontation, it should not have been surprising that the level of paranoia in the activist groups increased in direct proportion. No doubt a few might have fantasised about arming themselves against the threat from within the supposedly democratic State.

The fourth Labour Government led initially by David Lange (1984-1990) had been a friend of the peace movement and other activist causes. In that government Helen Clark herself was a key link to the peace movement. Caught up in the paranoia of the Bush/Cheney “war on terrorism” the fifth Labour Government led by Helen Clark (1999-2008) bought into the security, intelligence and law enforcement agenda that quite quickly marginalised and criminalised political dissent. The fourth Labour government under the guidance of Sir Geoffrey Palmer had introduced important new consitutional legislation including the Bill of Rights. The fifth Labour government put in place legislation that started the sliding erosion of those rights that continues unabated to this day.

The compact between Labour and Maori destroyed

Not initially related to the terrorism paranoia but developing alongside it was a hardened attitude to Maori activism. The Lange government started a process that paved the way for new forms of relationship between Maori and government. In 1998 while still Leader of the Opposition Helen Clark was humilated and reduced to tears at Waitangi. That no doubt hardened her personal attitude to Maori political activism.

In January 2004 the Waitangi Tribunal reported favourably on a claim to ownership of the seabed and foreshore. In January 2004 also Don Brash triggered a racist response in New Zealand with a speech at Orewa. The Clark government, in a signal decision in November 2004 motivated by political considerations, legislated to extinguish any Maori claim to the foreshore and seabed despite widespread protest. In doing so it destroyed a decades long electoral compact between Maori and Labour. The Maori Party was the result.

The Clark government had created new enemies for Labour out of old friends both Maori and Pakeha, and by granting undemocratic powers to the police and others had institutionalised some of those new antagonistic relationships.

Within that general atmosphere of betrayal and distrust Ngai Tuhoe was steadily working towards recognition, validation and settlement of its claims. The first of many claims was laid in 1987 and the Waitangi Tribunal heard them between 2003 and 2005. There was no guarantee that the Clark government would negotiate towards the outcomes Ngai Tuhoe wanted and to many it seemed that it would not. The gievances against the Crown run deep and there has been a simmering collective anger passed down through the generations. No doubt many in Ngai Tuhoe were impatient with the process. And there were a few hotheads, but they were held in check.

Taame Iti & Tuhoe Lambert

Taame has been an activist for decades, since the days when they were called “radical Maori activists” and rated as equally subversive as communists in the minds of the watchers and some politicians like Robert Muldoon. Taame’s activism became more focused on the Ngai Tuhoe cause as the years rolled by. He even rates his own entry in Wikipedia:

“As the Maori nationalist movement grew in New Zealand in the late 1960s and 1970s, Iti became involved. He protested against the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa, and he became involved with Nga Tamatoa, a major Māori protest group of the 1970s, from its early days. He joined the Communist Party of New Zealand, and went to China in 1973 during the cultural revolution. He has taken part in a number of land occupations and held a hikoi to the Parliament of New Zealand”.

There can be no doubt that he has been under surveillance for all or most of that time, whether by NZSIS or NZ Police. Taame and my old mate Willie Wilson were comrades in the union movement and the Communist Party together. Robert Muldoon certainly kept an eye on them through NZSIS and once named Willie in Parliament as the most dangerous man in New Zealand. There can also be no doubt that Taame knew that he was under surveillance from way back then and that whatever projects, protests and schemes he was involved in would be observed. In many interviews with the media he has said as much. He seemed to carry on regardless and do whatever he decided to do anyway. Of all the activists in New Zealand who are or have been under surveillance, or who think they have been under surveillance,  Taame stands out as one who has learned to live with it as part of his life. Unlike many he has never seemed overly-concerned and has rarely if ever protested about it in righteous indignation, or wishful thinking.

In the Operation 8 police evidence a police intelligence note from 2002 noted that he was seen at Mangere in the company of Rangi Kemara. They weren’t up to anything but his presence was noted anyway, and filed in a police database in case it became useful. In that case it did become useful for it seems that it might have been the first time police intelligence had added Rangi Kemara to his social network. Rangi didn’t have a police record. Social network analysis of persons of interest is going on all the time to build a picture of who might be involved in the activities of the people the police are watching. That’s partly what mass surveillance of the Internet by GCSB is about. They’ve probably got me tagged as part of his network as well as half of all Maori. They must have put the late Tuhoe Lambert into that network from about June 2006; maybe earlier.

On 16th January 2005 Taame shot a flag on the marae as part of an elaborate theatrical presentation before the Waitangi Tribunal sat to hear the Ngai Tuhoe claim. Local police understood what it was about, were not perturbed and did nothing about it. But after the matter was raised in Parliament by some righteous MP he was charged by the police and in June 2006 was convicted and fined.  At the time of the trial he was already under surveillance as part of Operation 8. On 4th April 2007 his conviction was overturned on appeal. That was just six months before the armed paramilitary operation in which he was arrested as an alleged “terrorist”.

It would be interesting to find out who in Wellington made the decision in 2005 to charge him with firearms offences. Commissioner Broad and Deputy Commissioner Pope had not been appointed at that time. Was Helen Clark involved.

On 27 February 2007 Taame was tipped off that someone was talking to the media who were interested in his wananga activities. On 28 February 2007 Melanie Jones of the Sunday Star Times contacted Taame and told him SST had received an anonymous letter that suggested he was “doing guerilla training for activists in the Ureweras”. The police intercepted that communication. Taame knew from a tip off on 3rd June 2007 that his wananga activities in the Urewera were under police surveillance and had been discussed at Police Headquarters. The police obtained those text messages.  He received another tip off about police surveillance in September 2007. In June 2007 an intercepted conversation clearly indicated that Taame knew they were under surveillance. He did nothing to stop or hide what he was doing.

The late Tuhoe Lambert was an Auckland based Vietnam veteran who was also dedicated to the Ngai Tuhoe cause and who was involved in the wananga in the Urewera with Taame Iti. He came under surveillance from early in 2007 as a result of a check of the Births, Deaths and Marriages database at Internal Affairs, looking for the relatives of his brother who had  become part of the network analysis. Tuhoe Lambert then came under surveillance himself, was linked to Taame Iti and his activity in the Urewera and eventually became a prime suspect with Taame Iti and Rangi Kemara. Tuhoe had previously been interviewed at length by Melanie Reid of TV3 about his Vietnam service and through that had created a public profile. Melanie interviewed him again after 15th October 2007.

In September 2007 Taame travelled to Fiji to meet Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. He was accompanied by John Murphy of Remuera. The spooks would certainly have been monitoring that visit and had certainly added Murphy to the Taame Iti network quite some time before that. We will meet Murphy later.

Rangi Kemara and Teanau Tuiono

Rangi and Teanau are good friends. I met them both through the NZ Maori Internet Society which I co-founded in the 1990s and which they joined early on. Rangi eventually came to work for me as my IT manager, part time at first then full time from early in 2004. Rangi was arrested at Manurewa at Tuhoe Lambert’s place on 15th October 2007. He had been staying there in a caravan. The next day Teanau’s place at Palmerston North was raided but he was not arrested.

Teanau was a moderator of the “Tino Rangatiratanga” email group that started in the 1990s.  Rangi was also involved in that. I was an early subscriber and contributor to the group. Teanau has fairly close links with the Wellington activist community and with the international activist community as well. He’s an activist, with a law degree, and acknowledges that he has probably been under surveillance for a while, especially because of his international links.

Rangi discovered through a source in the IT industry that his email account was under police surveillance some time in 2002 or 2003. There was no possible reason for that other than the fact that he was Maori, was becoming an IT specialist, was friendly with a number of activists including Taame Iti, and had been a contributor to online activist discussions. That could almost describe me as well.

Both Rangi’s and Teanau’s connection to Operation 8 probably began in 2004. That year started with Don Brash’s racist speech at Orewa. Then there was the Labour Government’s decision to extinguish any Maori rights to the seabed and foreshore, followed by the hikoi to Parliament to protest that decision, Tariana Turia’s resignation from the Labour Party, and the formation of the Maori Party. Throughout all of that the police were spying their hearts out.

Rangi and Teanau were in Wellington in March 2004 when the National Party website was defaced, probably in protest at all of that anti-Maori stuff that year, sparked off by Don Brash at Orewa. The website hack was aimed at Don Brash. The upshot of that is that the police electronic crime laboratory suspected Rangi the IT whiz of doing it, and perhaps had his mate Teanau in the frame as well.

Now, defacing a political website on the information super highway is no more serious than defacing a political billboard on any other highway. The recent revelations about wholesale spying by NSA, GCHQ, CSE, ASD and GCSB have finally proved that the Internet is open slather anyway. Our government is the biggest illegal hacker of them all. We already knew that at the time, and in my company we took our security seriously and built industrial strength protection around the websites on our servers, including our own websites. Most people actually believed the companies that built their websites, and believed that they were secure. We knew that most of them weren’t and we also knew that a lot of corporate websites were being hacked but that no-one was admitting it. It would embarrass them to admit that their supposedly secure websites were not. That’s why I say that defacing a political website billboard was and is a petty offence happening all the time, if it is an offence. If you want to protect your billboard on the information super highway or any other highway you should put a high fence around it topped by broken glass and razor wire with a strong lock on the gate. And don’t just believe the guy who takes your money and tells you there is a fence around it when there isn’t, like the Emperor’s new fence. If you don’t properly secure it and your electronic billboard gets the graffiti treatment then it’s your own stupid fault. Don’t go bleating to the police.

Anyway the Electronic Crime Laboratory (ECL) went after Rangi in a big way for allegedly doing a bit of graffiti on the National Party electronic billboard that was out on the highway without a proper fence around it. They seized all of his computers. But they didn’t find the computer they thought was used for the hacking of Brash’s billboard, or any evidence on the computers they did seize, and they didn’t charge Rangi with the hacking. All they had was that the hacking was done from a hotel connection in the hotel Rangi had stayed at in Wellington so it might have been him and it might not, and it might have been a Pakeha.

The person at ECL who was after Rangi was Juergan Arndt who later turned up at our office on 15th October 2007. He failed in 2004, and he failed again in 2007. The alleged 2004 hacking incident was mentioned in police evidence as one of the threads that led into Operation 8. It would seem that both Rangi and Teanau were in the crosshairs long before Operation 8 started and that they stayed in the crosshairs. And that was one of the threads by which both of them were woven into the Operation 8 narrative.

I had told Rangi in 2004 that because of his brush with ECL the police would have him under surveillance forever. He knew that. At a later time I also told him that he would be under surveillance because of his association with our friend Taame Iti and the wananga activities in the Urewera. He knew that too.

Computers were seized from a lot of locations around the country on 15th October 2007 and in the days afterwards but the ECL and Juergan Arndt were focused primarily on Rangi’s home workstation and on my fairly sophisticated IT network at Parnell. I will tell you why in another of the threads but I reckon that Fritz was also motivated by a bit of unfinished business from 2004.

Teanau’s house was searched but he was not arrested. Like me he contacted a lawyer who made sure the police did not exceed their lawful powers of detention and arrest. As in my case the search warrant itself was probably obtained improperly.

Jamie Lockett and Phil Le Compte

We met Detective Sergeant Phil Le Compte when he turned up at our Parnell office after we got an interim injunction to stop the search and seizure operation that was aimed at all of our computers. Le Compte worked at AMCOS, co-located with SIG, the special intelligence unit that ran Operation 8. On the surface he was not involved in Operation 8. But the cat certainly was curious.

Now to Lockett. The earliest record of Jamie Lockett in the Operation 8 database was on 24th September 2005 when he was observed in the Mount Wellington Domain in Auckland wearing a balaclava and carrying “something like a rifle”. The next record is on 5th February 2006 when he was reported to be at Waitangi with John Murphy.

Patrick Gower wrote this about Jamie Lockett in the NZ Herald on 27th October 2007.

“Whether it is proved right or wrong, Jamie Beattie Lockett will wear the title “terror suspect” with pride. It sits nicely alongside his boasts of being “the most trespassed man in New Zealand” or “84 arrests but 79 walk-aways”. Lockett has been at war with the police for years. He goads officers, they arrest him on disorder-related charges. It goes to court, he defends himself – and as his record shows, quite often beats them. Lockett will then take a private prosecution against the officers he claims have wronged him. It is a routine that has made him a regular fixture in the courts”.

“The 46-year-old stands apart from his 15 co-accused because he does not have an underpinning philosophy. Those who know Lockett say he is no anarchist or Maori activist: he is driven instead by a seemingly pathological dislike for police, said to have begun when an officer spat in his shoe while he was being held in custody. It began a belligerent feud that has become so all-consuming it has left him penniless, seen him fall out with friends, and means few who know him can recall what he was like before it began”.

“Terror suspect Jamie Lockett has been under tight police surveillance for at least 18 months. He was confronted by undercover police officers dressed as tourists at Waitangi Day 2006 and clearly told – while standing toe-to-toe with one detective – “we will be right on your tail”.

“The confrontation at Waitangi Day forms part of a short film titled Jamie made by friend and film-maker Miles Watson. It shows Lockett talking to uniformed police before two undercover officers dressed in board shorts and T-shirts take over. Lockett and one of the officers stand toe-to-toe as the “on your tail” warning is issued”.

The “undercover” police officer who stood toe-to-toe with Lockett was Detective Sergeant Phil Le Compte and the confrontation was not a coincidence. One of the main police protagonists in the long running feud involving “84 arrests and 79 walk-aways” was Phil Le Compte. It was personal. They hated each other. Lockett has told the story of how they had come to blows some time before the incident at Waitangi and how he had beaten Le Compte in the ensuing fight.

Lockett was at Waitangi with John Murphy. Murphy was a seemingly wealthy used car dealer who lived at Remuera, quite near to the late Sir Paul Holmes. On 5th March 2006 David Fisher of the NZ Herald wrote:

“There’s a Maori flag flying in one of Auckland’s poshest streets – and it’s raising the ire of some of its more influential neighbours”.

“Used car salesman John Murphy of Victoria Ave, has traded the New Zealand flag’s red, white and blue for the red, black and white of the tino rangatiratanga flag. Mr Murphy took the Kiwi flag down and ran the Maori flag up the pole just before last year’s election [17th September 2005]”.

“I went to see [Maori Party co-leader] Pita Sharples before the election to see how I could help because I believe in him,” Mr Murphy said at his $1.2 million home yesterday as a waiata played over stereo speakers. “So I put the flag up. And I’ve got a lot closer to Maori since I put it up.”

At the time of all of this Jamie Lockett was living with Murphy in Remuera. The two of them had embarked on their new cause to support Maori. They had tried to meet with Prime Minister Helen Clark and were supposedly at Waitangi to offer Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples $10 million to support the cause. It all sounds rather improbable. Their attempts to engage with the politicians had brought them renewed police attention.

Shortly after John Murphy had started to fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag in Remuera it was noticed by Rangi Kemara. Rangi was on his way home from his work at my office, noticed the flag and stopped to introduce himself to Murphy to find why he was flying it. He told me about it the next morning. One thing led to another and John Murphy and Jamie Lockett were introduced to Taame Iti. Network analysis had now connected them.

Detective Sergeant Phil Le Compte must have been beside himself to have Jamie Lockett joined to a “counter-terrorism” operation in the Urewera. The prospect of having him lined up on a terrorism charge would have been beguiling. Alas it was not to be, he was charged with arms offences, and he eventually got off that one too. 85 arrests and 80 walk-aways.

Did Phil Le Compte have any role in kicking off Operation 8? Was part of the motivation behind Operation 8 to put Jamie Lockett away for a long time on a terrorism conviction? We don’t know. Le Compte was one curious cat at my office in Parnell on 15th October 2007.

Since the Supreme Court appeal and the subsequent dropping of charges against most of the Operation 8 accused Lockett seems to have gone quiet. Phil Le Compte, son of Alan, was put back into uniform and sent up to Kaitaia. One can only speculate why but the feud seems to have subsided. Geographical distance has worked its magic. Lockett is still around but I hear that he has since done a three month stretch inside. 86 arrests and 80 walk-aways?

The interesting thing about the surveillance of Lockett and Murphy is that they are the main targets in the Operation 8 database of evidence up until July 2006 when the main focus shifted to Taame Iti. This is the timeline:

  • 4 May 2006 – “Surveillance log starts. Auckland Court. J. Lockett, J. Murphy, M. Watson”.
  • 10 May 2006 – “New investigation Op 8”. Request to Telecom about cellphone data for J. Murphy. Was this the actual start of Operation 8?
  • 17 May 2006 – “1st search warrant. T. Iti, J. Lockett, K. Alp, J. Murphy, K. Chapman” [probably cellphone records]..
  • Throughout May and June 2006 the database records are mostly concerned with links from Jamie Lockett and John Murphy to right wing white supremicists and members of the Direct Democracy Party; Kyle Chapman, Kevin Alp and Jason Orme.
  • 19 July 2006 – “1st search warrant. J. Lockett, T. Iti, M.Hohaia”

Perhaps Jamie Lockett led the police to Taame Iti and not the other way around. In which case Phil Le Compte would certainly have played a leading role at the start of Operation 8. Here’s the question – was Operation 8 already under way as an operation aimed at Jamie Lockett before it switched its focus to the Urewera? The police have always said it was an operation that started in the Urewera but the evidence of their Operation 8 database says otherwise. They’ve indulged in a bit of parallel construction of evidence.

The other interesting thing about Jamie Lockett and Operation 8 is that he too knew that he was under almost constant surveillance by the police and did nothing to hide his activity. In fact he had a record of provoking police into arresting him.

The anarchists, peace activists, environmentalists and animal rightists

So how did all of those activists from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and elsewhere come to be involved in the Urewera. Taame Iti is a networker and a collector. He collects people. A millionaire associate at one time was arts patron Jenny Gibbs although she disassociated herself from him after the Operation 8 arrests. He drew millionaire John Murphy into the network. There have been many influential people drawn in. He spreads the word about the Ngai Tuhoe cause as far and as wide as he can. He does it through his theatrical protests and the media, through his acting, through his painting, through his networking and through his wananga in the Urewera. He is the unofficial Ngai Tuhoe spin doctor.

But if they wanted a terrorist warlord they wouldn’t leave it to a spin doctor. They’d look for someone else, someone like me with high level military training, not Taame Iti and not even the late Tuhoe Lambert. By the way the only people ever to have approached me about that were two young Black Power members who asked me to run a wananga for them on guerrilla warfare. It was a long time ago and I didn’t of course. But Taame did arrange to have me briefed about the Ngai Tuhoe claim, as “a person of influence”, by chief negotiator Tamati Kruger. Flattery will get you nowhere Taame.

Ngai Tuhoe have been quite brilliant in their image making and have portrayed themselves as the last holdout against colonialism and the last repository of traditional ways of life and values. They have their history of invasion, suppression and confiscation which has been told and retold from generation to generation. It finds expression in “Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe” the ongoing never ending cause for some form of political autonomy. It is a compelling narrative that has created an aura around Ngai Tuhoe of the Urewera, the children of the mist. It is a narrative that is true, as far as it goes, and the substance of their claim is valid.

Another narrative is that Ngai Tuhoe is not an entirely united “iwi”. There are at least two hapu opposed to the direction of negotiations with the Crown. Ngai Tuhoe is also fast heading into becoming a corporate iwi like all the rest of the corporate iwi. I’m sure they’ll deny it but that’s their future. They’re becoming through the claim negotiation process a modern or neo-tribal “iwi”. And most of them don’t live in the Urewera, with perhaps the largest number of them living in Auckland. Those out in the diaspora are living ordinary mainstream lives as beneficiaries, workers, public servants, academics, teachers, nurses, firemen, policemen, soldiers, broadcasters, journalists, businessmen and businesswomen, criminals, and whatever else you can think of. They are concerned with raising their families and getting ahead if they can just like everyone else. Most of them are never going “home” to live in the Urewera although many of them are frequent visitors.

It’s the first narrative that draws in the romantics and the idealists to support the Ngai Tuhoe cause. It’s the narrative that has been brilliantly portrayed in academic publications, on film and in the media. It’s the narrative that would have drawn all of those activists to the wananga once invited. Were they drawn in to help Ngai Tuhoe wage war, or were they drawn in by the romanticism and idealism of the Ngai Tuhoe narrative which is the longest running ever in-your-face challenge to the sovereignty and closely guarded power of the NZ Parliament? The stuff of activists’ dreams.

Te Kotahi A Tuhoe ki Poneke, a group of activists to support the Ngai Tuhoe cause, was formed in Wellington in November 2006.

So were they there to wage war or to dream? Some of the activists actually refused on principle to participate in the war games in the bush, and went off somewhere else when that was on. The police didn’t tell you that but it’s true. Those ones at least weren’t there to wage armed warfare on anyone. Nor were the rest.

But some of them did act out a bit of fantasy in the bush. None of them would have made the grade into my platoon.

We know that after 9/11 police intelligence units had focused their attention on activists in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. We know that they paid informants to infiltrate the activist groups and to act as agents provocateur. It should have been no surprise to any of them that police intelligence followed their noses to the wananga in the Urewera. The police interpretation of what they saw there was the real surprise.

Am I soft on activists? Over the last 35 years since I retired from the Army I have met and become friends with a lot of activists of all varieties and causes, Maori and Pakeha. I have worked with quite a few on various projects, socialised with many who were also artists, writers and theatre goers. Some of them had SIS files going right back to the 1940s and 1950s. And do you know what? They are ordinary people just like the rest of us; mostly nice people and some who are not of course. Instead of looking through keyholes or relying on lunatic infiltrators the spooks should get to know their targets personally. They’d be a lot less paranoid if they did.

Aotearoa Café (AoCafe)

In the early days of the World Wide Web we had the Tino Rangatiratanga email discussion group at I was an early subscriber and sometime contributor. I’m still one of 1,394 subscribers but these days I never contribute. I got tired of it although some of the discussion was interesting.

There were the leading activists of the day, the people who set the activist agendas and did the stuff. Ideas were debated and things were organised. News was passed on. Like every online discussion group or Facebook group most of the people were watchers who read some of the stuff but never contributed. There were a few people who led most of the discussion. Then there were the armchair activists who had a lot to say and bugger all to contribute. Some of those were radical and legendary activists in their own minds, full of revolutionary rhetoric but who never got off the sofa. Much the same as the online crowd today.

If the post-9/11 era police spooks had been spying on some of that promised but never delivered revolution they would have been positively orgasmic. But the revolution was all trash talk and no-one seriously believed it except for the dreamers. The real activists got on with their activism.

We discovered one fact about online Maori discussion groups, especially activist groups, and that was that there were a lot of journalists watching and reading, waiting to pick up a story. And there were the cops hoping to uncover our conspiracies, or perhaps just looking for early warning of protests and other events.

Fast forward a few years to our company in Parnell. From early 2004 onwards we got serious about our communications security. Having been in the intelligence and military game myself I was always aware of the insecurity of the telephone, fax and email, and acutely aware of the vulnerability of websites and IT networks. We ran our own email server, file servers and web servers with our own and some of our clients’ websites hosted there, and we had to make sure that they were secure from hacking. Nearly all web servers are the subject of almost constant hacking attempts, usually by curious hackers from all over the globe just looking to see what damage they can do. Our Maori websites have long been the target of racist nerds in New Zealand and elsewhere trying to take them down. And from 2004 onwards we were aware that police intelligence were interested in Maori websites, data and communications.

We believed then and still do that it is our own responsibility to protect our data and communications and that if we get hacked it will be our own fault. The total takeover of the Internet by NSA, GCHQ, CSE, ASD and GCSB (known as 5-Eyes) has caused us to rethink that but we still do our level best to be as secure as we can, even from them.

In 2006 we moved all of our internal company communication away from email onto a more secure encrypted platform. To this day we hardly ever use email for business communication. Communications security was part of our business and we took it very seriously. We were early adopters of encrypted applications, including end to end encryption where we held the encryption keys, rather than server side encryption where you trust the providers to hold the keys and to do the encryption for you.

In April 2004 my IT manager Rangi Kemara set up a website of discussion forums with an encrypted chat room. It was to all intents and purposes an updated version of the old “Tino Rangatiratanga” discussion group with much the same subscriber base as the original, but with a new generation of subscribers as well. There were a range of forum topics that covered just about anything a group of Maori might want to discuss. The site was called Aotearoa Café – “AoCafe” for short. It consisted of three separate means of communication’

  • AoCafe Forums – public discussion forums
  • AoCafe Chat – encrypted chat rooms located initially on a separate server
  • Aotearoa Email – located on a free email server in the USA

The end-to-end encrypted chat room within AoCafe was state of the art. There was a lot of the usual armchair revolutionary crap chat going on as well as some serious real time discussion. I subscribed (using an alias) and Rangi would sometimes get me to log in to take on or take down the odd “educated” person who baffled everyone with their ignorance dressed up as knowledge. I monitored it from time to time to see what was going on. The revolutionary crap chat was as unrealistic and as boring as it always has been.

The encrypted chat room software at AoCafe was the same as one of the applications we adopted from the overseas hacker community to trial for our own internal company chat room. It was very very secure especially when the private chat room facility was used by two or more subscribers.

AoCafe Forums and AoCafe Chat resided on my company webserver in Parnell for a while until taken offsite to separate standalone webservers. For security reasons it was better not to have a Maori activism website on a normal webserver with other websites in case it came in for some extra attention from racist hackers and others.

The police were aware of the AoCafe from 23rd June 2004. Based on intecepted text messages from late 2006 mentioning AoCafe, indicating that the recipient should login to AoCafe, Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe first did a search of its open membership list on 5th March 2007. From then on the Operation 8 applications for warrants included AoCafe Forums, AoCafe Chat and email as intercept targets. The interception was to be done remotely with the assistance of Orcon, the provider that hosted the AoCafe server after it was moved from my premises. However the server for the encrypted chat room was not co-located at Orcon with the main AoCafe website. It was at another offsite location.

By June 2007 the police had still not been able to place their remote interception devices at the AoCafe sites. However they had obtained the database of unencrypted forum communications at the address from Orcon but had not been able to read the contents. As at 1st August 2007 they had still not been able to place interception devices on any of the three websites associated with AoCafe. By 30th August 2007 they had located and at their new location and had begun partial interception but had not been able to decrypt the chat room conversations. On 26th September 2007, just over two weeks before the paramilitary operation, they still had not managed to break into the encryption.

Sometime between 2004 and 2006 my company IT network and communications came under the scrutiny and surveillance of police intelligence, or the electronic crime lab, or both. We had written a small program that resided on our firewall server and that logged all attempts to hack into our network, and then traced the origin (or IP address) of the hacking computer and identified who it belonged to if it could. That’s all very simple stuff if you know how. One morning we discovered that an unsuccessful attempt had been made from a NZ Police owned range of IP addresses, indicating that it was probably a NZ Police computer. We thought that was pretty dumb to use an identifiable police computer to do some spying.

We found out on and after 15th October 2007 that one of the primary targets of the computer seizure operation was AoCafe. It was recorded in police evidence as “Al Qaeda like encrypted communications” and they thought it was the central communications hub for a terrorist network. They couldn’t hack into it so they assumed the worst. We know they tried and perhaps they enlisted the aid of GCSB as well. On 15th October 2007 they came looking for AoCafe files on my web server at Parnell, but they were no longer there. They did seize the offsite server it was on but there were no chat logs on that server either. We don’t as a matter of course allow applications or programs to store logs on our servers. And so there were no deleted logs for them to forensically restore. We had long been in the habit anyway of forensically “scrubbing” our hard drives and servers of all deleted files so that they could not be restored and read. It was just another aspect of the security measures we researched and implemented as a matter of course. But Maori folk aren’t supposed to be that sophisticated are we.

That was another thread in the narrative of Operation 8. After 2004 the ECL had Rangi Kemara under surveillance at home and at our office, they knew of and were suspicious about AoCafe and couldn’t hack the encrypted core of it. When Rangi and others were linked with Taame Iti and the wananga in the Urewera they had in their feverish imaginations uncovered an Al Qaeda like encrypted communications hub for a terrorist network, on my servers.

Did some of the 18 accused use AoCafe to communicate. Of course they did. And one or two of them had AoCafe chat logs on their computers that were retrieved by the police. But mostly they used insecure mobile phones. They were not in the main sophisticated electronic communicators. If they had seriously been plotting terrorist stuff they would have seriously secured their communications as well. They’re all smart people and one or two them are savvy about communications security.

Rangi Kemara was heard by the police to say this about the communications of the activists, indicating that he knew that wananga communications by mobile phone were probably being intercepted.

“… but at the same time they use their cell phones to communicate which means they might as well ring the Police and provide their story to media”

The military connection

There were two identified military people picked up and charged in the operation. The late Tuhoe Lambert was a Vietnam veteran having served in Victor Company RNZIR as a rifleman in 1970. After Vietnam Tuhoe had left the Army and had apparently done a short stint overseas as a contract soldier. The other was Rau Hunt who had been a petty officer in the Navy and who had later become a civilian military contractor in Iraq. Both were identified by the police as military trainers at the wananga and were charged.

On the periphery there was myself, a 20 year Army officer and war veteran with active service in Borneo (1966) and Vietnam (1967), and I was Rangi Kemara’s employer and occasionally in contact with Taame Iti and others involved in the wananga. There were other Vietnam veterans in the Urewera, not directly involved in the wananga but in contact with Taame Iti and some of the wananga participants. I had served with a couple of them. We all knew that there was firearms training at the wananga but were not concerned.

However in the period from October to December 2006, before the focus of Operation 8 shifted from Auckland to the Urewera, I was a prime suspect and the subject of numerous probes by the police. The police also ran a check with Defence on 58 suspects including myself to see if there were any with military backgrounds. They got five positive responses including me. None of us remained in their crosshairs after the focus shifted to the Urewera.

Tuhoe Lambert was not tied into the network until early in 2007 and Rau Hunt became part of the network analysis from about April 2007.

Tuhoe Lambert was identified as the trainer who was conducting “patrolling” type activity over a period of a few months. I watched all of the video evidence several times. I quickly came to the conclusion, as someone who had spent thousands of hours commanding real patrols on real patrol missions and as someone who had trained real infantrymen over a period of many years that they were just playing war games rather than doing any serious military training. A real infantryman can tell the level of training and expertise at a glance. Some of my former colleagues with Vietnam service and long periods of service after that have since agreed with me.

From the video evidence it was obvious to me that Rau Hunt was not training anyone but was demonstrating the tactics and techniques of personal protection, and vehicle and convoy protection used by civilian military contractors or operators in places like Iraq and Afghanistan., What the police inexpertly saw as training for kidnapping and hostage taking I saw as a demonstration of the personal protection of a client in an ambush situation where the client is hustled out of a vehicle under attack to a safe position or to another vehicle not under attack. Given Rau’s background and experience that was the most logical conclusion anyway.

Long after the era when Vietnam veterans were looked upon with derision, by the 2000’s many younger men looked up to us and respected us and still do. We don’t talk much about what we did but the younger ones are eager to listen to those who are willing to share their experiences. Rangi Kemara spent a lot of time around me, and also created a relationship with Tuhoe Lambert and eventually lived in a caravan at Tuhoe’s place. He was one who respected us and was interested in what we did in Vietnam. He didn’t get anything specific from me about my Vietnam experience but I understand that Tuhoe shared a few experiences. Rangi also never asked me about anything to do with tactics or strategy. We did talk about survival stuff occasionally. Rangi had also met two Ngai Tuhoe people who had served with me in Vietnam who had some experiences and observations to share. He told me about it at the time.

So there were military connections linked to the wananga participants, some of whom were very interested in our exploits 30 to 40 years previously. Why did that extend to some play acting in the bush? I’ll explore that in a later post.

The threads that weren’t

On 15th October 2007 and in the days following about 60 houses around the country were raided. The omnibus search warrant used to conduct those searches was broad in its scope, specifying weapons, equipment and clothing that they were looking for as well as computers. At our office in Parnell they were looking specifically for the AoCafe forums and chat room. But Fritz and his masters had also decided on an act of complete bastardry and they were intent on taking every computer, server and hard drive in the place and on putting us out of business. At most other places they were just fishing for computers where they hoped to find evidence to flesh out their terrorism narrative.

They found nothing of consequence. Those were the threads that weren’t. The police obviously thought they’d find some but they didn’t.

The woven terrorism narrative

Those are the threads that were the basis for the terrorist narrative the police would weave around the happenings at the wananga in the Urewera. In the next post I will examine the evidence they collected to weave into those threads. The finished narrative was full of holes.

Links: The Operation 8 Series