Category Archives: Spooks & Maori

Operation 8: unreasonable, improper, unlawful, illegal, dishonest

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

and that was the police, not the alleged “terrorists”

In my previous posts I’ve been going on about ignorance, racism, paranoia, incompetence, and the lack of intellectual rigour that shaped the intelligence process in Operation 8. The litany wouldn’t be complete without a discussion about honesty, or the lack of it. Police behaviour on Operation 8 has been called unreasonable, improper and unlawful. Illegal is apparently reserved for others. What character trait is it that makes some police officers think that that behaviour, whatever you call it, is acceptable behaviour. Dishonesty?

Bear with me as I make an important point about lawful, honourable and ethical behaviour before I get back to Operation 8.

Lawful, Honourable and Ethical Behaviour

The oath sworn by all police officers is shown below. The oath is administered by the Police Commissioner or by an officer authorised by him (or her).

“I, [name], swear that I will faithfully and diligently serve Her (or His) Majesty [specify the name of the reigning Sovereign], Queen (or King) of New Zealand, her (or his) heirs and successors, without favour or affection, malice or ill-will. While a constable I will, to the best of my power, keep the peace and prevent offences against the peace, and will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, perform all the duties of the office of constable according to law. So help me God.”

The key phrase in that oath that applies here is “according to law”. Each and every constable (i.e. each and every police officer) swears to enforce the law according to or within the law. So help them God of course.

Additionally, “commissioned officers” (Inspectors and above) on promotion to commissioned rank receive their commissions from the Governor General on behalf of the Queen of New Zealand and are held to a much higher standard of responsibility and ethical conduct through their commissioning document. My parchment commission (document) granted to me nearly fifty years ago when I became a commissioned Army officer was the basis of a code of honour and ethical behaviour I and my fellow officers, with few exceptions, upheld. Dishonest or unethical conduct could result in “cashiering”, or the removal of the commission and discharge from the Army (a dishonourable discharge). The parchment commission of an Army officer is a valued possession. It ought to be so for “commissioned” police officers as well and it ought to be the basis for a code of honour and ethical conduct of the highest order.

I don’t have a copy of a police commissioning document but I’m sure that it requires each and every “commissioned officer” to ensure that all policemen under their command properly enforce the law according to or within the law.

A key legal requirement that applies in addition to the oath and the commissioning document is that whereas an individual New Zealand citizen may do anything at all unless it is prohibited by law, a police officer (or any government official for that matter) in the performance of their duties may only do that which is permitted by law. A police officer therefore, regardless of rank or position, does not have any discretionary power to do anything that is not specifically permitted or sanctioned by law.

To do so is to be in breach of the oath and commission, which are the foundations of a police officer’s authority to enforce the law. And to be in breach of the law as well.

There have been many publicly documented instances where both non-commissioned and “commissioned” police officers have acted in breach of those foundations of their authority and responsibility. Yet those breaches often seem to be treated as misdemeanours by the police hierarchy instead of the serious violations of oath and commission that they are. The present police cultural response is denial, cover up and spin which is itself a gross violation of the trust placed in the police force through the oath and commission. Honourable and honest men own up to their mistakes and transgressions.

Men and women of honour would surely live by their oath, or is that an old fashioned concept. Does the oath not mean anything once it has been administered. Is it just a formulaic administrative requirement, sworn and forgotten.

In some ways the culture of denial, cover up and spin bears more resemblance to the Mafia code of omerta than the code of honour one would expect of a police force. There is one intriguing aspect to this and that is the influence of the Police Association in shaping that culture of silence. Would there be a different culture if the Police Executive stood up to the Police Association and broke its power and influence in matters beyond its legitimate concerns of employment, remuneration and conditions of service.

Whereas my approach to conduct and ethics is based on honour, and the need for a code of honour whether written or unwritten, Dame Margaret Bazley’s Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct of March 2007 focused in part on the need for a code of conduct. I think that a code of honour is about an ingrained ethical attitude and a code of conduct is a formal more regulatory approach. The code of honour is a compass point towards which all who subscribe to it navigate in all wind, water and weather conditions. The code of conduct is more limited and is about the set of the sail in any particular condition or set of conditions. It is more limited because it is impossible to prescribe a sail setting for every possible circumstance.

In my time in the Army there were two punishable offences that were broad in scope and potentially serious in their consequences.

For commissioned officers the offence was “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman”, which was admittedly quaint and old fashioned but could be used to cashier an officer for any transgression whether against formal regulations or the informal and unwritten code of honour. Simple dishonesty was enough. For non-commissioned officers and private soldiers the offence was “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline”, which was equally broad and undefined but used to the achievement of much the same purpose which was to ensure ethical conduct. The “conduct unbecoming” offence for commissioned officers was by far the more serious of the two for commissioned officers ought to be held to a much higher standard of conduct.

Those offences have been updated in the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971:

“Conduct prejudicial to service discipline. Every person subject to this Act commits an offence, and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, who
  • does or omits any act that is likely to prejudice service discipline; or
  • does or omits any act that is likely to bring discredit on the service of the Armed Forces to which he belongs or, if he is attached to any such service, either to that service or to the service to which he belongs; or
  • negligently fails to perform a duty imposed on him or her by service order, training, or custom; or
  • negligently performs a duty imposed on him or her by service order, training, or custom”.

Still onerous.

Dame Margaret’s report stated in part:

“I was disturbed to learn that the police do not have any code of conduct or guidelines that provide sworn police ocers with clear guidance on what constitutes appropriate behaviour, in particular appropriate sexual behaviour. It is very clear to me that in order to maintain public trust and credibility police ocers need to adhere to high standards of ethical behaviour, both on and o duty, and police management needs to be vigilant in maintaining a culture that supports these standards”.

“There is, at the time of writing this report, no single code of conduct governing all members of New Zealand Police. Instead, a distinction must be made between sworn members and non-sworn members.

“It came as a surprise to me that, notwithstanding the terms of reference, there is currently no code of conduct in place for sworn police ocers. A draft code of conduct was prepared in 2002”

“I was very concerned to learn of the reliance on the police union for its assistance with arranging the departure of unsuitable members from the police. In my view this should be the role of the employer”.

The Office of the Auditor General has the job of monitoring the police implemention of the recommendations of the Bazley Report and reporting annually to Government. The October 2012 report shows that there has been improvement but that there is still much room for further improvement.

The Bazley report contains a long discussion on the need for a code of conduct for sworn police officers, and on the negotiations and development of a draft code beginning in 2001. As at March 2007 (and indeed as at 15th October 2007) there was still no code of conduct in place. The report recommended:

“A code of conduct for sworn police staff should be implemented as a matter of urgency”.

Section 20 of The Policing Act 2008 now states:

“(1) The Commissioner must prescribe a code of conduct for Police employees, stating the standards of behaviour expected from Police employees.
“(2) It is the duty of every Police employee to conduct himself or herself in accordance with the code of conduct”.

A police employee becomes a constable by taking a constable’s oath after the required training.

It is my opinion that the code of conduct approach does not deal with the essential difference between “commissioned” and non-commissioned officers, and the far higher expectations that ought to apply to “commissioned” officers. That higher expectation is surely the reason they are commissioned officers, in addition to their implied higher levels of experience, knowledge, ability, competence and professionalism. Most people, and possibly most police officers, think that the promotion from non-commissioned to commissioned rank is just another step up the hierarchy but it is not. It invokes much higher expectations of professional and personal conduct. If that is not so in the NZ Police then they should relinquish the process of commissioning which was adopted from the military in the first place as a symbol of status.

There seems to be nothing in either the Police Act 1958 or the Policing Act 2008 that actually authorises the NZ Police and the Governor General to confer commissioned status upon officers of the rank of Inspector and above. The Police Act 1958 states “Commissioned officer means any person appointed under this Act as a commissioned officer of Police” but nowhere in the act is there any legislative authority to confer that commissioned status upon any police officer. Perhaps it has just become an outdated symbol of status rather than the solemn invocation of higher expectations.

The Defence Act 1990 does however legislate for the appointment of commissioned officers in the Armed Forces:

“The Governor-General may from time to time:

  • appoint officers to a service of the Armed Forces:
  • in the name and on behalf of the Sovereign, issue commissions under the Seal of New Zealand to officers of the Armed Forces”

The Bazley report also investigated many other aspects of police culture and made several recommendations in relation to cultural change. The police were very slow to implement those recommendations and that was one of the stated reasons for the non-renewal of the contracts of Police Commissioner Broad and Deputy Commissioner Pope beyond their first five-year terms.

All of that is a long and convoluted way of getting to the point about honesty and Operation 8. In the remainder of this post I will discuss the effect of that police culture in four aspects of Operation 8:

  • the use of the media to shape public opinion about prosecutions or potential prosecutions;
  • the deliberate, improper, unlawful or illegal use of warrants and surveillance;
  • the possible illegal use of GCSB; and
  • the unlawfulness of behaviour during the armed paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007.

In Operation 8 the lead analyst Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe was and is a non-commissioned officer. He has since been promoted to Detective Senior Sergeant and his next promotion will be to the “commissioned” rank of Detective Inspector or Inspector. His immediate supervisor Detective Inspector Bruce Good was and is a “commissioned” officer. The rest of those involved up the chain of command to the Police Commissioner himself were all “commissioned” officers.

The shortcomings, failures, poor conduct and breaches of the law in Operation 8 were mostly those of “commissioned officers“. That supposes of course that “commissioned officers” in the NZ Police are lawful holders of the Queen’s Commission. Which may or may not be the case.

Use of the media to convict defendants in the public mind before they go to trial

Most defendants are already at a significant disadvantage as they confront the judicial system. The police and the state have enormous financial and legal resources at their disposal compared to most defendants and that gives them a huge advantage before court proceedings begin. Legal aid goes nowhere near correcting that imbalance of power. Justice does not come cheap.

The NZ Police have also built a formidable media, public relations and spin machine which they have used to imprint their version of events on the public mind long before defendants have their say in court. That was the case in Operation 8.

In my opinion it is entirely appropriate that the police use the media to solicit further witnesses and evidence to help them solve crime. It is despicable when they use it to prosecute defendants in the court of public opinion and possibly subvert the judicial process. The “public interest” is no defence whatsoever.

Not only did they mount an aggressive paramilitary operation against Ruatoki, and against two family homes in Taneatua and Manurewa, they simultaneously mounted an aggressive media campaign. The media were on the spot almost immediately, well primed by the police media machine. And although they have denied it, it is almost certain that the police leaked a suppressed affidavit to the media in order to further state their own case in public in an attempt to justify their operation against a whole Maori rural community.

The use of a professional media machine to subvert the process of justice is surely another example of the state’s gradual but relentless erosion of hard won democratic freedoms and rights. At the level of the police officers who individually or collectively plan and authorise such media campaigns it is, at its core, dishonest. It may also be illegal for there is nothing in law that expressly permits them to do it.

In September 2011 a few months before the eventual trial of the “Urewera 4” the police sought and obtained the permission of the High Court to release previously suppressed evidence to the media before the trial. Their stated purpose was that it was “in the public interest”. Their blatantly obvious purpose was to continue what they started on 15th October 2007 which was to imprint their narrative into the public mind before it was tested in a court of law. In particular they wanted to release the video surveillance evidence that was devoid of context, was sensational, and was the key prosecution evidence that they had fought hard to retain as admissible. The pretence that they were motivated by “the public interest” was certainly disingenuous and in my opinion dishonest.

Illegal Warrants and Illegal Surveillance

The Operation 8 intelligence process involved large scale misuse of warrants and surveillance. When you or I break the law it’s called illegal. When the police break the law it’s called improper or unlawful. Unlawful conduct by the police can sometimes be passed off as a mistake, or a misunderstanding of the law. But in this case the police through their own evidence in the High Court knew what they were doing was “unlawful” and they did it anyway.

There’s a number of words for deliberate unlawful police behaviour. I’ll be kind to them and call it dishonesty. That describes the character of the police officers who did the unlawful stuff rather than what they did.

Most of the information for this section comes from court documents including affidavits, applications, judgements, briefs of evidence, indictments and memos. Most of it was suppressed at the time. The full import of the dishonesty of the police intelligence operation was not reported in the media because most of this information was suppressed for long periods of time. There were also a large number of court hearings including bail hearings, applications for stays of prosecution, applications for dismissal of charges, hearings about the admissibility of evidence and hearings about judge alone or jury trials. They involved the District Court, High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. All that before the eventual trial of the remaining four accused.

Keeping abreast of the intricacies of that legal battle over a period of over four years was time consuming and at times confusing. The New Zealand public had no hope of understanding what was going on.

Putting aside the criminal trial of the “Urewera 4” in February and March 2012 the central issue in that legal battle was the admissibility of evidence. The two lawyers general in the battle were Ross Burns for the prosecution and Rodney Harrison QC for the defence. Ross Burns was strategically canny and saved the police from total embarrassment. Rodney Harrison is intellectually astute as one would expect of a QC and had been involved in a review of the Evidence Act. It became obvious that he knew more about evidence than a High Court judge and the judges at the Court of Appeal. It seems he always knew his evidential battle was going to the Supreme Court and the documents he tabled at the various hearings reflected that foresight.

The battle began in the High Court in Auckland in August 2008 and ended, via the Court of Appeal, in the Supreme Court in Wellington in September 2011.

Stating it rather simply there was nothing in law that permitted police to enter onto private property to install cameras including video cameras, to record video on that property, or even to retrieve those cameras. To do so would be to commit trespass. They could also not enter onto private property to conduct a general search for unspecified items rather than for a specific “thing”. The definition of a “thing” in the eyes of the law became a point of much legal debate.

Under Section 30 of The Evidence Act 2006 a judge may through a process of “balancing”, if evidence has been improperly obtained, allow that evidence to be produced in a prosecution if on balance the seriousness of the charge warrants it. There was much legal debate over that “balance”.

The retention of the evidence in question was key to the prosecution case and the police fought tooth and nail to retain it.

In the early stage of this legal battle the police tried to argue that multiply owned Maori land is not private land and that therefore they were permitted to enter onto it without permission from its owners. That specious justification has also been used to attempt to prosecute acts on marae. They were totally defeated in that attempt. It was a weak rear-guard action.

In the first group of hearings in the High Court some of that video evidence was ruled inadmissible because either the warrants to obtain it were improperly obtained or because the surveillance itself was unlawful, or both. Some of it was ruled admissible and allowed. The defence made further applications to the High court to revisit the decision but were unsuccessful.

It then went to the Court of Appeal where the High Court decision was endorsed and the appeal denied. From there it went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decision was the balance of the opinions of five judges who differed in their individual opinions.

There were two classes of defendant by the time it reached the Supreme Court. Four people were charged with various arms offences and with “participating in a criminal group”. The remaining 13 were only charged with arms offences which were lesser offences than the criminal group offence. The Supreme Court found that the evidence in question was unlawfully obtained and could not be entered into the prosecution case against the 13, but that it could, by the balancing process previously described, be used to prosecute the remaining four. It was a partial victory for both defence and prosecution.

Chief Justice Sean Elias stated in her decision:

I regard it as a significantly exacerbating factor that the film surveillance was undertaken deliberately without legal authority, in the knowledge that there was no lawful investigatory technique available to be used”.

In circumstances where the police officer in charge of the inquiry knew that there was no authority to be obtained for such filmed surveillance, the deliberate unlawfulness of the police conduct in the covert filming, maintained over many entries and over a period of some 10 months, is destructive of an effective and credible system of justice”.

Shortly after that determination all charges against the 13 were dropped and only the remaining four went forward to a High Court trial.

Crucial to my examination of the honesty of the Operation 8 intelligence process is the evidence of Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe in the initial stages of this four year legal debate. Under questioning he clearly admitted that the warrants in question were improperly obtained and that the surveillance was unlawful. Furthermore he admitted that he knew at the time that that was so. His notes confirmed it. He also stated that he had consulted with his supervisors about the matter at the time. That statement was not backed up by documentary evidence in his notes.

His immediate “commissioned” supervisor was Detective Inspector Bruce Good. Detective Inspector Good has a reputation for, how shall we say it, taking shortcuts. If he did sanction or even initiate the improper obtaining of warrants and the unlawful surveillance he would have taken a giant shortcut indeed and would have displayed dishonest behaviour to say the least, unless of course he himself was ignorant of the law. However we only have Aaron Pascoe’s word that he consulted his supervisors. Detective Sergeant Pascoe was not ignorant of the law. He was just involved in dishonest behaviour no matter how you dress it up as “ends justifying means”. One quasi-legal excuse they tried to run to dress it up was that they somehow had “implied powers”. That failed miserably.

A question that needs to be asked is how far up the command chain that improper, unlawful and dishonest behaviour was known and sanctioned. Did Commissioner Broad and Deputy Commissioner Pope know about it and did they sanction it? Were they among the supervisors consulted by Aaron Pascoe? That is the question.

And if the lead analyst and his immediate supervisor were both involved in that improper, unlawful and dishonest behaviour what else did they get up to? Did anyone present evidence out of context? Did anyone exclude evidence that was detrimental to the police case? Did anyone manufacture evidence? What was the involvement of the Crime Monitoring Centre on Thorndon Quay in Wellington (set up in 2005 by then Detective Inspector Mike Clement) in that improper and unlawful policing? And did all of those “commissioned officers” up the chain of command beyond poor old non-commissioned Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe live up to the code of honour or even the code of conduct one would expect of “commissioned officers”.

We will never know for the politicians have prevented any public inquiry into Operation 8, other than an IPCA investigation into the actual armed paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007.

GCSB and SIS Involvement

It has been established that NZ SIS was involved in some way and briefed Prime Minister Helen Clark and opposition leader John Key. It is not known whether or not it was involved in the illegal surveillance or in the incompetent intelligence analysis. Probably not, although its database of information on individuals would have been available to the police and one, maybe two, of those individuals were foreign nationals.

It has been established that the GCSB illegally spied on over 80 New Zealand citizens or permanent residents over the period that covers Operation 8. The investigations into that matter have not (yet) revealed whether some or all of the Operation 8 targets were among those illegally spied on. It does seem probable for it has been established that at least some of their illegal surveillance activity was at the behest of the police. And as we know the police have a record of playing fast, loose and dishonestly with the law in relation to search and surveillance.

The excuse for GCSB’s illegally spying on Kim Dotcom was that they and the police “mistakenly” failed to properly establish his residential status as a permanent NZ resident. One or two of the Operation 8 targets were also foreign nationals and it is possible that the police and GCSB also made use of that to conduct surveillance against them, and whoever was in their networks. So if they spied on the foreign nationals they would have been spying on all of the co-accused as well.

What does need to be investigated, if ever an inquiry into all aspects of Operation 8 is mounted, is:

  • Whether or not GCSB was involved in Operation 8;
  • If it was involved, the nature of that involvement;
  • If it did provide intelligence to the police have the police created a “parallel construction” of evidence to disguise the trail of evidence from GCSB to Operation 8;
  • If the police did call upon GCSB for illegal assistance was the Crime Monitoring Centre involved in that? Was the Electronic Crime Laboratory involved?
  • Is there any formal or informal relationship between GCSB and the Crime Monitoring Centre and/or the Electronic Crime Laboratory?
  • Whether or not anyone is lying about GCSB involvement; and
  • If they are whether Government is itself involved in a cover up of illegal GCSB involvement in Operation 8.

The Armed Paramilitary Operation

With regard to the operation at Ruatoki, Taneatua and Manurewa on 15th October 2007 Te Putatara would need access to the written operation order, if there was one, to determine whether or not the unlawful actions on that day were a deliberate and dishonest disregard for the law or simply an ignorant and immature “Hi Ho Silver” cowboys’ day out at the expense of innocent bystanders including many women and children. The IPCA has of course determined that it was unlawful (i.e. illegal) in many respects.

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

“A number of occupants were informed by Police that they were being detained while a search of the property occurred, despite there being no lawful basis for such detention. Police had no legal basis for conducting personal searches of these occupants.

“The Authority has concluded that a number of aspects of the Police termination of Operation Eight were contrary to law and unreasonable”.

So who was responsible for all that unreasonable, improper, unlawful, illegal and dishonest stuff?

Despite all the media coverage, the multiple court hearings and the IPCA report the only name that has been put to that stuff is poor old non-commissioned Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe (now Detective Senior Sergeant). So:

  • Who did sanction the improper warrants and unlawful surveillance;
  • Who authorises the media campaigns that undermine judicial process;
  • Who planned and led the despicable armed paramilitary operation;
  • Who sanctioned the unlawful behaviour during that operation; and
  • Who really knows whether Operation 8 targets were illegally monitored by GCSB.

They are certainly “commissioned police officers” who it seems will never be held to account. Being held to account is perhaps not part of the new code of conduct. That’s covered by another code; the code of denial, cover up and spin.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Intelligence Analysis is an Intellectual Activity

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

And there wasn’t much of it in Operation 8.

A wise old man was sitting outside his village. A traveller asked him, “What kind of people live in this village. I want to move from my village?” The wise one asked, “What kind of people live in your village?” The man said, “They are mean, cruel and rude.” The wise man replied, “The same kind of people live in this village too.” After some time another traveller came by and asked the same question and the wise man asked him, “What kind of people live where you come from?” And the traveller replied, “The people are very kind, courteous, polite and good.” The wise man said, “You will find the same kind of people here too.”

It is also said in the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism:

“We see things not as they are but as we are”

The ancients, without the benefit of the modern science of cognitive psychology, understood the human mind and its propensity to see the world as a reflection of itself and to build the narratives it wants to believe. Unfortunately there were no wise men, Jewish scholars or tohunga Maori on the Operation 8 team. Or any sort of scholar for that matter.

Throughout this series I have maintained that Operation 8 was a police cock-up. The reasons for that are partly the ignorance, racism and paranoia endemic still in the NZ Police, and partly just plain old incompetence. The incompetence in the intelligence function of the police prior to the appointment of intelligence professional Mark Evans was the result of a lack of a professional intelligence framework and training, and consequently a lack of intellectual ability. In other words Operation 8 was a dumb operation. The available audit trail clearly shows that to be the case.

“The steps in converting information to intelligence are largely intellectual. To aid the mind, various checks, procedures and processing tools exist, and these in turn help ensure the systematic exploitation and detailed scrutiny of information and provide an audit trail of the intellectual journey”.

– Lance Collins & Warren Reid, “Plunging Point, Intelligence Failures, Cover-ups and Consequences”, Fourth Estate, Australia, 2005.

Intelligence analysis is an intellectual activity. It requires the application of an educated mind to see things as they are, not as we think they are. It is not an activity suited to the mind of the policeman trained only in the investigative techniques of detection of crime after the event. That is the work of detectives.

”  …  intelligence analysis today continues to be a human practice dependant on the intellectual capacity of individual analysts, notwithstanding the increasing role of technology in the intelligence domain“.

“Intelligence analysis is arguably a critical part of national security as well as law enforcement function, but is dependent upon the intellectual capacity of individual analysts”.

– Corkill, Jeff, “Not Art, Not Science, but Artistry: Why professional artistry should matter to the intelligence community“, in The Journal of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers, Volume 19, Number 1, 2011.

The work of the intelligence analyst:

  • Is the work of prediction based on an assessment of the probability of future events;
  • Is to gather and analyse information about events in the future;
  • Is to draw tentative conclusions and build possible narratives or scenarios based on that analysis, and to test and evaluate all of those narratives and scenarios in order to propose the most likely scenario or scenarios. If there is insufficient information or evidence to confirm or to eliminate a scenario more evidence should be sought;
  • Should always be tested and evaluated by senior analysts not involved in the analytical groundwork leading to the conclusions upon which the narratives and scenarios are based.

That did not happen in Operation 8. The lead analysts were detectives rather than intelligence professionals. As they progressed from December 2005 to the culmination of their work on 15th October 2007 they built a single narrative and a single scenario. They did not consider other possible narratives. They further reinforced that single scenario by only seeking out information to confirm their mindset. Once that mindset developed they would have been oblivious to other information and other narratives and scenarios. They built the narrative they wanted to find.

Even so they obviously knew they did not have sufficient information to support their single scenario analysis. The Operation 8 “termination” phase, including the armed paramilitary operation at Ruatoki and elsewhere and the nationwide computer seizure operation, was designed not just to arrest suspects and to seize weapons and equipment. It was designed to find the information they did not already have to complete their terrorist narrative and to prove the validity of their terrorist scenario. It failed miserably. The Solicitor General gave them a soft landing by blaming the legislation itself when he declined to prosecute the Urewera 17 under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

They had built a single narrative and scenario for which they knew they did not have sufficient intelligence. Then they acted upon it. That was dumb intelligence analysis and management, and dumb policing at the highest level.

How did they get there?

In a previous post we explored the deliberate exclusion of Maori police officers who would have taken a broader and more knowledgeable view. Who should have been involved in the planning and direction, the collection and processing of information, the analysis and production of intelligence.  Who should have been involved in challenging, testing and evaluating the analysis and conclusions, and in planning any resulting action. In all probability the armed paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007 would not have happened if they had been involved.

But they were not involved and so we need to look at what intellectual shortcomings led the “analysts” and their managers to the 15th October 2007 operation.

Another important aspect of analysis as a cognitive process is where subconscious biases or mindsets by an individual or group prevent a full reflection of all available probabilities and conclusions, which can lead to faulty analysis and assessments. Cognitive biases are mental errors which are a normal part of human reasoning “.

– Patrick F. Walsh, 2011, “Intelligence and Intelligence Analysis“, Routledge, New York.

Apart from the fact that they were not trained as intelligence analysts their work was not challenged, tested and evaluated by experienced professional analysts to avoid the pitfalls of cognitive bias.

In a previous incarnation as an analyst I would challenge, test and evaluate the product of the analysts working for me. I would similarly have my own assessments and conclusions challenged, tested and evaluated. It was all part of the process of exposing cognitive bias and eliminating error as much as possible.

Based on their amateurish unchallenged, untested and unevaluated analysis the NZ Police rushed onwards towards a debacle of their own making. Commissioner Broad himself displayed an unbelievable lack of professionalism and incompetence by accepting the shoddy untested work of his intelligence analysts and operational advisors and presenting it to the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) and to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

There was thus a total lack of intellectual rigour in their work from the desks of the analysts to the police commissioner himself.

The competent analyst is a person who is not only educated to reason and think logically but who is also able to put aside personal or cultural bias in the interpretation of information. The mind of the analyst is able to comprehend subtleties and nuances, the multiple shades of grey between the absolute certainties of black and white. The mind of the analyst is comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty while it seeks out information to reduce if not to eliminate that ambiguity and uncertainty.

The competent analyst relies solely on evidence rather than conjecture and must be trained not to jump to conclusions, but to consider all possible interpretations of the information available before offering an interpretation based on that information. If more than one valid interpretation is possible the analyst must present all possible interpretations. If one is chosen above the others the analyst must present evidence supporting that conclusion.

The analyst who is not educated to avoid them will unconsciously employ the shortcuts that the human mind habitually uses to make sense of the world. Our brains sideline or suppress the ambiguity and uncertainty of the real world and create coherent interpretations where they don’t exist.

As award winning cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman puts it, a few thousand years after the authors of the Talmud came to much the same conclusion, “We see the world as much more coherent than it is”.

“Many decisions are based on beliefs concerning the likelihood of uncertain events such as the outcome of an election, the guilt of a defendant, or the future value of the dollar. … Occasionally, beliefs concerning uncertain events are expressed in numerical form as odds or subjective probabilities. What determines such beliefs? How do people assess the probability of an uncertain event or the value of an uncertain quantity? … people rely on a limited number of heuristic principles which reduce the complex tasks of assessing probabilities and predicting values to simpler judgmental operations. In general, these heuristics are quite useful, but sometimes they lead to severe and systematic errors”.

–       Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, 1974, “Judgement under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases”, Science Vol 185, reprinted in Kahneman, 2011, “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Allen Lane.

The mind is inclined to jump to conclusions. What you see is what there is, or all there is. The mind/brain doesn’t allow for what you don’t know or see. It creates reality and certainty only from what it sees and hears. The mind uses unreliable information to reach those conclusions. One can construct very good stories, narratives or scenarios out of very little evidence. All unconsciously. And professional analysts have to be educated and trained to avoid those pitfalls.

“The human mind is an illusion generator … Patterns are everything to us. We hunger for them. We revel in them. They are the basis for art, literature, music, and much more in our lives. But a perceptual system that is so geared to wrestling patterns out of complex arrays of stimuli is bound to produce some false positives”.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways you can make a perceptual mistake. You can fail to see something that is there, or you can see something that is not there“.

– Hank Davis, 2009, “Caveman Logic – the persistence of primitive thinking in a modern world”, Prometheus Books, New York.

Stereotypes are part of that process and provide mental shortcuts in our attempts to make sense of complicated situations. We ascribe stereotypes to groups of people and those stereotypes shape our perceptions and expectations of what people in those groups might think and how they might act. The analyst needs to acknowledge that and to guard against applying stereotypical thinking to his or her work. The police are especially vulnerable to stereotypical thinking for they live their working lives immersed in the world of criminality. They tend therefore to see and interpret their working world through the prism of criminality. There is no problem with that in the work of the criminal detective for the detective is after all tasked with solving crime that has already been committed. The intelligence analyst however has to maintain a much wider and more nuanced view of the world.

Non-Maori have formed and held stereotypes of Maori since the time of first contact. The American David Ausubel observed them and wrote about them in 1960 (“The Fern and the Tiki”, Angus and Robertson). Those same stereotypes persist into these modern times and shape opinions and interpretations about Maori. Non-Maori police are no exception and the stereotype of the Maori as criminal is alive and well. The police have also formed a collective stereotype of the activist, and in their intelligence gathering activities have equated activism with criminality. Whereas a few activists may be involved in some criminal activity most are not, yet the stereotype of the activist as criminal prevails. Based on this stereotype the police seem unable to differentiate political intelligence from criminal intelligence. Maori activists are doubly disadvantaged by this stereotypical thinking.

There is a specific stereotype of Taame Iti as a dangerous and sometimes violent radical Maori and Ngai Tuhoe activist, a former member of the Communist Party and of the “radical” protest movement Nga Tamatoa. The police officers who know Taame do not subscribe to this stereotype but higher up the chain they obviously do. In 2005 when Taame staged a massive theatrical presentation to the Waitangi Tribunal including shooting a flag on the marae the local police were not perturbed. Higher up the chain they invoked the stereotype and in their abject ignorance (and cognitive bias) had him charged and convicted. Later of course his conviction was overturned on appeal. Like the local police I know him as a likeable rogue, a family man with a strong sense of social justice, a strong commitment to the health and wellbeing of his people, total dedication to the Ngai Tuhoe cause, with an exceptional talent for theatrical and often humorous protest. I have watched as he dealt lovingly, gently and patiently with a difficult child, a far cry from the image of “terrorist”. The local fuzz could have arrested him over the phone and he would have arrived at the cop shop under his own steam after breakfast, with his mobile phone, rifle and can of petrol if that’s what they wanted. And the best way to find out what Taame is up to is to ask him. He can be disarmingly open, frank and honest.

Stereotypical thinking leads to confirmation bias, the tendency to search for, interpret and remember information that confirms one’s preconceptions. That leads to expectation bias, the tendency for analysts to believe and produce intelligence that agrees with their expectations for the outcome of their analysis, and to disbelieve, discard or downgrade information or data that conflict with those expectations. Or to the observer-expectancy effect when an analyst expects a given outcome and therefore unconsciously manipulates or misinterprets information in order to find it.

Another dangerous mental shortcut in intelligence analysis and management is consensual validity. It was one of the critical intellectual failures that led President George W. Bush to declare war on Iraq in 2003 based on insufficient hard intelligence, some false intelligence, and on the wrong conclusions believed by all of those around him.

Consensual validity is a very powerful force. In many cases if those around you believe it, it must be true. It is also a prime example of what are called heuristics, or shortcuts that save each member of the group (or species) from having to re-evaluate the same evidence“.

– Hank Davis (2009)

Given that the critical analysis in Operation 8 leading to the belief that a terrorist plot was being hatched does not appear to have been challenged, tested and evaluated with any intellectual rigour, consensual validity seems to be the primitive thought process that led the analysts and their superiors, all the way up the chain to the police commissioner and thence to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, to their conclusions and decisions.

Groupthink is another name for it, or the bandwagon effect.

Heuristics or mental shortcuts are essential in our everyday lives and they work very well in most conditions as we navigate our lives mostly on auto-pilot. We don’t dwell on every problem and every decision we need to make; thousands of them every day of our lives. Heuristics are so ingrained in our unconscious minds that we are rarely aware that we are using them. But if we rely on them, knowingly or unknowingly, in situations when we should bring the intellect or the conscious mind to bear, then we will most likely draw incorrect conclusions. Reliance on heuristics in situations where they should be over-ridden indicates a lack of intellectual ability, or worse, intellectual laziness.

Thus constricted thinking too often leads to plausible yet incorrect conclusions as it did in Operation 8.

“Scholars and the study participants tend to be in agreement that good analysts possess certain qualities regardless of the domain in which they operate. These qualities include demonstrated intellectual capacity, curiosity, a degree of scepticism, and attention to detail. Additional qualities noted by the study participants include, creativity, tenacity, foresight and contextual understanding”.

– Corkill (2011).

I would add that the analyst and managers of analysts should have an advanced understanding of heuristics and a knowledge of how to avoid reliance on those mental shortcuts.

There are now many other identified heuristics or cognitive biases. Perhaps to end this discussion on bias I should mention the Dunning-Kruger effect in which incompetent people fail to realise they are incompetent because they lack the skill to distinguish between competence and incompetence. Much as I would like to I cannot attribute this insight to Tamati Kruger of Ngai Tuhoe but it would seem to be an appropriate observation for Ngai Tuhoe to make about the cognitive psychology underlying Operation 8.

I have defined another psychological effect. I am calling it the “Hi Ho Silver Effect” in which hyped up testosterone fuelled heavily armed cowboys in facemasks and fancy dress disregard the law, human rights and common dignity and decency, as they get their erotic kicks by terrorising unarmed women and children in the misguided belief that the objects of their collective pornographic fantasy really are dangerous outlaws. It involves a total suspension of reality and a high degree of theatricality of the tragicomedy variety. If ever confronted by the Hi Ho Silver Effect the counter to it is to imagine that the cowboys are wearing lipstick, bras, panties and panty hose under their macho getup, and imagine that you shove flowers down the barrels of their guns while silently chanting “Show us your knickers girls, come on, show us your frilly knickers”. For an encore you could ask them to dance the Can Can.

I know, I can’t resist it sometimes. But they really are cowboys and based on their vile and stupid behaviour at Ruatoki, Taneatua and Manurewa I wouldn’t have had any of them in the real combat infantry I commanded in my day.

And that unlawful and unforgiveable behaviour was the direct outcome of dumb analysis and dumb policing.

At a conference in July 2011 a representative of the Victorian Police in Australia spoke of the need for intellectual ability as a challenge facing the Victorian Police intelligence framework implementation. She noted that the Victorian Police were looking to recruit and train university graduates to be intelligence analysts rather than using less well educated policemen.

In response Mr Mark Evans who heads the NZ Police Intelligence system implementation explained that he was working, in consultation with other intelligence agencies, to establish intelligence education in conjunction with Massey University to upgrade the NZ Police (and other agencies) intelligence capability.

Subsequently on 21st December 2011 the NZ Police released a media statement announcing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Massey University providing for collaboration in research, teaching and professional development. Massey would offer a new qualification at its Centre for Defence and Security Studies, a Master of International Security, which contains tailored papers including security strategy, crime intelligence, international law, and leadership and management. Several police officers have joined the degree course. There would be no better case study than Operation 8 to demonstrate how not to manage and conduct an intelligence operation. Except that the NZ Police culture does not allow the admission of failure unless forced to.

Mr Evans said the MOUs timing was appropriate as police launched the new Prevention First operating strategy aimed at making New Zealand an even safer place to live, visit and do business (Source: NZ Police website).

The NZ Police now require their analysts to have specific intelligence qualifications and their recruitment advertisements for analysts to work in the Special Investigation Group now reflect that requirement. It was not previously a requirement and was obviously not a requirement for the analysts involved in Operation 8. This extract from an advertisement in 2012 demonstrates the minimum qualification now required of an analyst:

“The successful applicant will hold the National Diploma in Intelligence Analysis (NDIA) or equivalent or be able to obtain the same within 12 months of employment. If a trainee is the successful applicant they will be put through training to achieve the NDIA”.

The diploma was developed by Mrs Janine Foster while she was at Customs and it is now the industry standard NZQA accredited qualification.  Mrs Foster joined the NZ Police in 2002 when they were rapidly building their intelligence structure in the wake of 9/11. She is now on secondment to Massey University where she teaches the security and crime component of the degree course.

This development in the education of intelligence officers is a clear indication that at the executive level at least NZ Police has recognised the inadequacy of their previous capability (and staff) and the need to increase intellectual capacity in intelligence management and analysis.

That intellectual capacity, essential to professional and competent intelligence analysis, was completely missing from Operation 8. From top to bottom. It was a major factor in the debacle that ensued. It was a dumb operation.

Taku rākau ka hē ki te marahea
My weapon erred in the worst way.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Why were Maori police officers not involved?

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Was it the old old story of ignorance, racism and paranoia as well as incompetence?

Maori police were deliberately excluded from knowing anything about Operation 8 until after the termination phase; that is the armed paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007. Superintendent Wallace Haumaha who until 2007 was the National Strategic Maori Advisor, and is now the General Manager Maori, Ethnic and Pacific Services, was deliberately excluded. His network of Police iwi liaison officers was also deliberately excluded.

Te Putatara understands from sources close to the NZ Police that Commissioner Broad himself approved the decision to exclude Superintendent Haumaha and his teams. The sources also report that Haumaha later strongly objected to his exclusion and demanded and received an apology from Broad.

It was reported that at a hui at Wainuiomata Marae in March 2008:

New Zealand’s top cop also admitted to ongoing differences of opinion with advisory staff over the decision to go ahead with the raids“.

The exclusion of NZ Police’s experts on Maori:

  • Highlights the ignorance, racism, paranoia and incompetence of the intelligence operation leading to the armed paramilitary operation.
  • Led to a deeply flawed analysis upon which the police built their terrorism narrative and convinced themselves that their terrorism scenario was the only possible scenario.
  • Culminated in a hugely over-the-top and over-hyped paramilitary operation that traumatised a whole community and families in other locations, and that is having a lasting adverse effect on children caught up and terrorised in that operation.
  • Led directly to the investigative and legal debacle that unfolded after the paramilitary operation; and
  • It was dumb.

A central principle of intelligence gathering and analysis is a thorough knowledge of the targeted persons, organisations or countries. “Know thy adversary” is a key principle. This principle is certainly understood by intelligence professional Mark Evans who since October 2007 has headed the NZ Police intelligence framework implementation and is now Director of Intelligence. Mark Evans was appointed to implement a professional Intelligence capability, a capability that did not exist before his appointment.

“The better you understand your subject the more likely you can produce material with insight”.

– Evans, R Mark (2011), Influencing decision-makers with intelligence and analytical products” p192, in Ratcliffe, JH (Ed), Strategic thinking in criminal intelligence, 2nd Edition, The Federation Press, NSW.

The principle of “know thy adversary” was certainly not understood by Commissioner Howard Broad, Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope, Assistant Commissioner (Intelligence) Jon White, Detective Inspector Bruce Good and Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe in the intelligence planning (if there was any) and in the intelligence gathering and analysis phases of Operation 8.

In my experience one of the most frequent traps in Intelligence analysis is to interpret information from within one’s own cultural framework and from within one’s own range of experiences.

Competent analysts are those who immerse themselves within the worldview of the target person or persons, or countries and cultures, and are thus able to reach valid conclusions based on their knowledge of the targets’ own worldview; their thinking and motivations. If the analyst does not have that background knowledge he or she must seek it out rather than reach conclusions based on just a limited understanding of the target or targets.

In my own case I spent twelve months totally immersed in the language of a target country learning everything I could about the cultures, religions, mythologies, histories, geography, politics, agriculture, industry, economy, military, police, diplomacy, and peoples of that country. Having become fluent in the language and reasonably knowledgable about most aspects of the country I became an analyst on a country desk. I still needed to keep studying and learning.

Most Pakeha have forever judged and interpreted Maori through their own linguistic and cultural lens, ignorant of the differences between us, although that has been slowly changing. There are now of course, after generations of living, learning and loving together many similarities. But significant differences remain. Many Pakeha still refuse to acknowledge the difference, or if they do, refuse to accept that there should be difference. It’s the ridiculous “one people” mantra. That is perhaps one of the main reasons for the ignorance, racism and paranoia that has plagued Maori-Pakeha relations for so long, and that has long characterised the NZ Police  approach to Maori.

New policies have been introduced by the NZ Police to try to eradicate that racism, or more probably to be seen to be trying. They include cross-cultural education at the NZ Police College and the introduction of Maori responsiveness staff and policies. However the evidence on the frontline is that it is all skin deep and that ignorance, racism and paranoia is as strong as it ever was.

On specialist knowledge Mark Evans wrote:

“Products will be better informed by involving others. A community or neighbourhood profile for example will always benefit from input of those working closest to the problems on the ground. Consultation and taking advice is essential – a computer system and its captured data only contains some of the information necessary for effective analysis”.

– R Mark Evans (2011).

In my opinion the most glaring deficiency in the NZ Police Intelligence information gathering and analysis process leading up to Operation 8 was the deliberate exclusion of the Maori responsiveness team led by Superintendent Wallace Haumaha, and the exclusion of his network of Police iwi liaison officers, from the operation. These are the NZ Police’s experts on matters Maori. The planning and direction, collection, processing, analysis and production processes of the intelligence cycle were thus deprived of the most valuable police resource available to them, and suffered greatly because of it.

It meant that the Operation 8 intelligence team and their superiors ignorantly and deliberately deprived themselves of the opportunity and necessity to “know their adversary”. Their ignorance, racism and paranoia got in the way of their professionalism.

The exclusion of the police liaison network was written about in 2008 by Mr Luke Crawford, a former police officer who served for nearly 26 years. At the time of the Operation 8 raids Sergeant Crawford was a serving police officer. He writes:

“The situation that occurred at Ruatoki would have been handled in a totally different manner had iwi liaison officers been included in the planning and execution of this operation.”

Crawford, L, “Ruatoki, the Police and Maori Responsiveness”, Chapter 4 p110 in Keenan, D, (2008), Terror in our midst? Searching for terror in Aotearoa New Zealand, Huia Publishers, Wellington.

Mr Crawford also wrote:

 “There is still a way to go before there will be full participation by iwi liaison officers and their networks in decision-making at key areas of policing, particularly at the frontline decision-making tables around the country. I know that some police leaders, particularly at the operational level, still struggle to believe that iwi liaison staff and Maori networks can be trusted to participate at these tables. This may be why decision-making around police actions at Ruatoki excluded the Maori responsiveness groups and district iwi liaison staff”.

On p106 he wrote that:

“At the strategic and governance level of policing, the Maori responsiveness team is led by Superintendent Wallace Haumaha of Te Arawa.”

Mr Crawford does not state that the operation would not have been mounted but he does confirm that the NZ Police Maori responsiveness team and iwi liaison staff members were not part of the operation.

The information that Superintendent Haumaha and his Maori officers were deliberately excluded was obtained from reliable sources close to the NZ Police. The sources also confirmed that former Commissioner Howard Broad was party to the decision to exclude Maori officers.

Mr Crawford went on to write:

“I cannot help but turn to incidents such as Ruatoki and wonder how differently things might have turned out had the staff making the decisions understood more about Tuhoe and Rua Kenana. I have always maintained that no one cares more about Tuhoe more than Tuhoe themselves. The failure to involve the wisdom of appropriate Tuhoe leaders towards what occurred at Ruatoki has proved harmful for police, as the condemnation from Tuhoe and other significant Maori leaders continues”.  p112.

Mr Crawford goes further than I, in writing that wise counsel should have been sought from within Ngai Tuhoe as well as from the iwi liaison staff.

The only conclusions that can be reached are:

  • That the deliberate exclusion of Superintendent Haumaha showed a lack of trust in Maori police, including Superintendent Haumaha, by the Police executive, and indicates an element of racism in the whole process; and therefore;
  • That the intelligence operation leading to the paramilitary operation was tainted by that mistrust, and by ignorance and racist attitudes from the very beginning.

The alternative conclusions are:

  • That the NZ Police believed that Superintendent Haumaha and his network of Maori police officers were not sufficiently professional or competent to be involved in Operation 8; or
  • That the analysts involved in Operation 8 (i.e., Detective Inspector Bruce Good and Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe) were already highly knowledgeable about matters Maori and about Ngai Tuhoe, and did not need or would not benefit from Superintendent Haumaha’s expertise. And that is a ridiculous and laughable proposition.

I reach these conclusions based upon a simple axiom in Intelligence work; that you always seek out and use the most expert and reliable resources available.

Mr Crawford writes:

“So I am not critical of the execution of the operation but rather I am critical of its planning, particularly in so far as a valuable resource within policing, in the form of the iwi liaison network, was not utilised. I know from the phone calls I received following the operation that many of the iwi liaison network were of a similar feeling, with many wondering why we have built up such a external network amongst Maori if they are not used on occasions such as Ruatoki”.

I go further than Luke Crawford. I am of the opinion that as Operation 8 was an intelligence led operation the Maori responsiveness team and the iwi liaison network should have been involved at a every stage stage. It should have been involved in the planning and direction (if there was any), during the collection, processing, analysis and production stages of gthe intelligence cycle, and certainly in the testing and critical evaluation of the intelligence produced.

The anlaysts involved did not even consult their own Maori colleagues to translate and interpret the small amount of Te Reo Maori they encountered. They used an outside translator/interpreter instead. If I were Superintendent Haumaha I would consider that to be a display of racist contempt.

Those Maori officers would also have been able to use their own reliable networks to gain information from a wider variety of sources than was possible without them.

I have read my way through volumes of Operation 8 interception warrants and applications for warrants. In almost every instance the police stated in their affidavits that surveillance by interception was the only viable means of obtaining the information they were seeking. Yet the most valuable intelligence resource they had available to them, Superintendent Haumaha and his team of Maori officers, was not only not used, but was deliberately excluded.

Without the inclusion of that critical resource the intelligence collection and analysis process leading to the Operation 8 raids was bound to be deeply flawed from the very beginning. One can only conclude that the ignorance, racism and paranoia that has characterised police intelligence over many decades also characterised Operation 8.

On 23rd May 2013 Radio Waatea reported:

“The commissioner of police, Peter Marshall, is defending the decision to exclude police iwi liaison officers from the planning of the 2007 Tuhoe raids.

The Independent Police Complaints Authority has slammed the way police set up blockades and detained people in the Ruatoki valley, but considered there was a case for leaving some of its most experienced Māori staff out of the loop.

“Mr Marshall says the team investigating alleged military style training camps in Te Urewera, thought it would be counter-productive to involve the liaison officers.

“Using the old adage, whether they are the poacher or the gamekeeper – they are either on one side of it or the other. They would have been compromised in terms of ‘why didn’t you give us a warning this was happening or why didn’t you tell us what was happening? So in hindsight, six years after the event, the decision was made with the best interest of those iwi liaison officers at heart,” he says.

“Mr Marshall says while he appreciates people caught up in the road blocks were traumatised, such trauma is an unavoidable part of major investigations”.

That is patronising and highly insulting to Maori police officers and shows that the present Police Commissioner is no more suited to holding the office than his predecessor.

We have it on good authority that Superintendent Haumaha did not agree with his exclusion, nor did his network of police iwi liaison officers. And we have it on good authority that Superintendent Haumaha was quite upset by his exclusion. As shown above their exclusion was a major factor leading to an unprofessional and incompetent intelligence operation.

Marshall’s excuse is just more of the spin surrounding the denials and cover-up following Operation 8. It is unfortunately just another example of the total inability of the NZ Police Executive to admit any wrong unless and until they are forced to, and to descend into denial, cover-up and spin when they have stuffed up.

And Operation 8 was a stuff up of monumental proportion. In a truly transparent and accountable democratic society the senior officers responsible would have been dismissed. And perhaps they were, eventually, by not having their contracts renewed, and perhaps that was part of the cover-up.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Understanding the Intelligence process

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

And the lack of a professional intelligence process during Operation 8

Following the armed paramilitary operation at Ruatoki and elsewhere commentators were quick to attribute a variety of motivations to the operation. They included a show of force to Tuhoe who were negotiating a settlement, a police demonstration of the need for the amendment to the Terrorism Suppression Act that was in Parliament at the time, and many others. In this series of posts I take the view that it was cock-up and incompetence rather than conspiracy.

With that in mind I am examining the intelligence operation leading to the armed operation on 15th October 2007 to highlight the cock-ups and incompetence.

Intelligence analysis is a complex process previously an esoteric calling within the shadowy world of the military and security establishment depicted in the novels of Ian Fleming, John Le Carre and others. Nowadays it is a discipline researched and studied in the universities, and employed by dedicated intelligence units in a wide range of public and private organisations.

The traditional intelligence cycle involves the following steps and ensures that there is a system of checks and balances.

  • Planning and direction
  • Collection
  • Processing
  • Analysis and production
  • Dissemination

– Source CIA Website

It is not obvious that there was any formal cycle or process involving checks and balances in the intelligence leading to the Operation 8 armed paramilitary operation. There seems to have been much emphasis on collection and processing, but little emphasis on planning and direction by experienced intelligence managers, or on quality analysis.

In this post I will briefly outline the principles underpinning the intelligence process. I will also comment on the Operation 8 intelligence operation in relation to those principles.

Operation 8 was a deeply flawed intelligence led operation conducted by the Special Investigation Group (SIG) at Auckland, operating out of Harlech House in Otahuhu. The two detectives who conducted the intelligence operation and analysis were Detective Inspector Bruce Good and Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe. At Police Headquarters in Wellington Assistant Commissioner (Intelligence) Jon White was the senior officer in charge of Intelligence, answering to Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope and Commissioner Howard Broad.

It was deeply flawed in that it ignored either through ignorance or wilful intent the principles of intelligence analysis. After an study of the Police evidence associated with Operation 8 I reached the conclusion that it was unprofessional and incompetent.

The first factor leading to that conclusion will be described in detail in an essay on specialist knowledge, concerning the exclusion of Maori advice at all stages of Operation 8 including planning and direction, collection, processing and analysis.

Secondly, there is no indication that the Police observed any of the basic processes of intelligence analysis, specifically the reliability rating of information and sources, and the corroboration of information by alternative sources leading to quality control in the process. There is nothing at all to indicate that a professionally competent analysis process was in place. There is evidence however that a huge amount of information was vacuumed from a variety of sources including Google Search in order to support a pre-conceived conclusion; conclusion building upon conclusion lacking in quality control at each step in the process. The affidavits and warrants now available indicate that what was presented as evidence to justify Operation 8 was a mass of unprocessed or hastily processed and untested and unevaluated information.

Thirdly, there is nothing to indicate that the NZ Police made any effort to place all of their information in context (by involving their own Maori experts and others), and nothing to indicate that they made any effort to ensure the completeness of their information. Instead the impression is that they were rushing towards the dénouement of an operation with a mass of hastily and inexpertly analysed information. That was despite Commissioner Howard Broad’s later public admissions that there was no evidence at all of any immanent terrorist or criminal activity.

Fourthly, it seems obvious that the NZ Police considered only one possible interpretation of the events they observed and then focused all their efforts on proving that interpretation or conclusion. In my opinion that in itself demonstrates a lack of intellectual ability, and an absence of a proper analytical process.

The lead investigators/analysts for Operation 8 were Detective Inspector Bruce Good and Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe who appear to have sworn most or all of the affidavits to obtain the surveillance, intercept, search and arrest warrants for the operation, all of which record the progress of their “intelligence” operation.

They were at the time members of the Auckland team of the NZ Police Special Investigation Group which is an intelligence unit. It is reasonable to assume in that case that Operation 8 was an intelligence led operation coordinated by Detective Inspector Good and largely conducted by Detective Sergeant Pascoe.

The intelligence process is based on tested principles and practice developed over a long period of time. In the modern world of intelligence management and analysis new strategies, models, tools and techniques are being developed and implemented as intelligence has become an academic discipline and as the innovative use of technology increases exponentially. New techniques revealed recently in the media include widespread population level electronic surveillance as well as targeted electronic surveillance, computerised data mining and correlation, and social network analysis.

The principles however are timeless. Some of them are described below.

A central principle: a thorough knowledge of the targeted persons, organisations or countries (or “know thy adversary”).

“The better you understand your subject the more likely you can produce material with insight”.

Evans, R Mark (2009), Influencing decision-makers with intelligence and analytical products” p192, in Ratcliffe, JH (Ed), Strategic thinking in criminal intelligence, 2nd Edition, The Federation Press, NSW.

Mark Evans is the intelligence professional appointed by the NZ Police to design and implement a professional intelligence capability.He has an impressive resume having worked in intelligence with British Defence, Australian Defence, the Northern Ireland Office  and Northern Ireland Police. He was appointed to the NZ Police after this Operation 8 intelligence process was complete, not long before the paramilitary operation at Ruatoki and elsewhere. He is now Director of Intelligence

Competent analysts are those who immerse themselves within the worldview of the target person or persons, or countries and cultures, and are thus able to reach valid conclusions based on their knowledge of the targets’ own worldview; their thinking and motivations. If the analyst does not have that background knowledge he or she must seek it out rather than reach conclusions based on just a limited understanding of the target or targets, or on their own worldview and experience, or lack thereof.

There is ample evidence that the NZ Police acted on incomplete knowledge of the targets of their surveillance and that they deliberately excluded those with that expertise; their Maori police officers.

Reliability of information

All collected information must be rated for reliability as intelligence, and only reliable evidence from reliable sources should be admitted to the process of collation and analysis. Information and intelligence are not necessarily the same thing, a distinction lost on the Operation 8 analysts.

Even seemingly reliable information such as video surveillance and intercepts of conversations or correspondence needs to be subjected to this process.

Do the intercepts contain the complete conversation or correspondence within the total context of the conversation or correspondence? Email and SMS conversations often consist of multiple exchanges over time and the complete context can be easily misinterpreted from analysis of only part or parts of those conversations. The selection of excerpts of those exchanges can be easily misinterpreted without the context of the full exchange.

Intercepted voice conversations can be also be incomplete as the targets move into and out of range of the recording device. Voice conversations are often linked by ongoing conversation over a period of time, and a single intercept of a single conversation, or a single excerpt of a single conversation can be misconstrued or even misrepresented out of context.

Do the targets know that they are subject to surveillance and intercept, or are they likely to know? If they are likely to know, then might they be inclined to conduct disinformation campaigns against the watchers and listeners; to feed them false and potentially damaging or embarrassing information, or even to deliberately provoke a reaction. The most effective disinformation campaigns are those that aim to feed information that the watchers and listeners expect to intercept.

This reinforces the need for information to be rated for reliability and completeness, and to be corroborated before it is accepted into the analysis process. The available evidence shows that the Operation 8 intelligence process did not include any rating of information for reliability or relevance.

This Admiralty Grading Intelligence System has been in use since about WWI. It relates specifically to HUMINT, that Intelligence obtained from human sources. There is some evidence that the information upon which Operation 8 was initially based should have been graded F6.

The Admiralty Grading Intelligence System
Reliability of Source Credibility of Source
A  Completely reliable 1  Confirmed by other sources
B  Usually reliable 2  Probably true
C  Fairly reliable 3  Possibly true
D  Not usually reliable 4  Doubtful
E  Unreliable 5  Improbable
F  Reliability cannot be judged 6  Truth cannot be judged


All collected information rated as reliable should be corroborated from at least one other reliable source before being admitted to the process. This requirement ensures quality of information. Quality of information is infinitely more important than quantity. The Operation 8 intelligence operation focused on quantity over quality.

Completeness of information

” …. focusing solely on what is known is unwise because this would lead to the intelligence picture becomoing a self-fulfilling prophecy. Therefore …. finding out more about gaps in knowledge that are recognised … is generally accepted as a core purpose of intelligence collection.”

– Oliver Higgins, “The theory and practice of intelligence collection“, in Ratcliffe, Jerry H. (Ed), 2009, “Strategic Thinking in Criminal Intelligence“, Federation Press.

In constructing scenarios and narratives from the available reliable and corroborated information analysts should be aware not only of the available information, but also of possible or probable gaps in the available information. A common failing in intelligence analysis is to assume that what is known is all there needs to be known. It is as important to know what you don’t know, as it is to know what you do know.

This aspect of the analysis will be addressed in detail in another post.

Testing and Evaluation

Information gathered from covert sources or covert collection activities (usually classified as secret) can and should be tested against open source information, which is now available in abundance. Just because information is covertly obtained does not mean it is reliable or correct.

Personal knowledge of the target persons or groups should also be built over a long period of time and brought to the testing of assumptions and conclusions during the analysis process. In the absence of personal knowledge the intelligence should be tesgted and evaluated by those who do have the in-depth knowledge of the target.

There is no evidence that any of the Operation 8 analysis was tested and evaluated.


There are rarely absolute certainties in Intelligence analysis.

The scenario or narrative that is disseminated as intelligence must always be accompanied by an explanation of the reliability of sources used, whether or not the information has been corroborated by other reliable sources, whether or not the information is complete. It should also declare the probability of error.

A very good recent example was the intelligence analysis that found Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. That process has been partially declassified and released. The intelligence officials in that case gave President Obama a qualified probability rating on their conclusion that bin Laden was where they thought he was in Pakistan, and the President was then required to make a decision based on that probability of error.

Did Commissioner Broad apply such a probability rating to his advice to the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) and to Cabinet? My information says that he did not.

If the evidence supports more than one scenario or narrative, that should also be stated. Did Broad do that at ODESC and at Cabinet? My information says that he did not.


“Timeliness is always a factor. There will always be intelligence gaps (unknowns) and it is usually the case that conclusions and recommendations need to be made on incomplete data. But this needs to be set against the fact that timeliness in the dissemination of law enforcement intelligence product is almost always critical – and this will often mean exercising judgement about when to publish or report”.

– R Mark Evans (2009)

Very often action must indeed be taken based on incomplete evidence. That is always a matter of the assessment of probablity based on that incomplete evidence and an assessment of the risk of not taking action. Conversely if there is no such time constraint then time should be taken to carefully progess the gathering and analysis of intelligence and to build as complete a picture as possible.

After the paramilitary operation Commissioner Broad publicly admitted that he had no evidence that there was an immanent threat of violent terrorist activity. Yet he rushed ahead with a full scale anti-terrorist paramilitary operation. There is however some evidence that he might have known that the available evidence would not support a terrorism prosecution and that he authorised a vast fishing expedition across the country aimed at seizing computers from at least 50 locations, in the expectation that the net would uncover and catch a terrorist network with evidence to secure terrorism convictions.

After the armed operation and after the Solicitor General declined to allow a terrorism prosecution to proceed Broad changed his tune and said that while the police had no evidence of immanent terrorist activity he deemed it necessary to “nip it in the bud”. That was his explanation at a confidential meeting with one of the NZ Police’s district Maori advisory boards after the event.

He “nipped it in the bud” with a full-on testosterone-fuelled armed paramilitary offensive against a rural Maori community and against family homes in other places, knowing full well that there was no immanent threat.

An intellectual activity

“Poorly written [intelligence] products will often confuse facts and opinion. At best this can lead to critcism – at worst it can lead to flawed decision-making and action. The separation of facts, evidence, opinions, judgements, hypotheses, conclusions and recommendations is a critical element of the analytical tradecraft and fundamental to the generation of effective product”.

– R. Mark Evans (2009)

There is no doubt that all of the available Operation 8 paperwork was poorly written, confusing fact with assumption or opinion.

The competent analyst is a person educated to think logically and able to put aside any personal or cultural bias in the interpretation of information. There was a total lack of intellectual rigour and intellectual capability in the Operation 8 analysis. It was dumb.

As was the decision to mount the “termination” phase on 15th October 2007. There were no cool heads involved in that decision whether in the police executive, or in Cabinet.

These aspects of the Operation 8 intelligence process are explored in posts to follow. They will explore the ways in which the analysts involved in Operation 8 totally ignored all of the accepted principles and processes of intelligence analysis, presuming that they knew of them in the first place..


Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Incompetence of Police Intelligence

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

The Intelligence capacity of the NZ Police on and before October 15th 2007

In previous articles I have questioned the competence and professionalism of Police Intelligence in Operation 8. I will continue to do so.

Since Operation 8 the NZ Police Force has completely overhauled its Intelligence capability under the direction of R Mark Evans, an intelligence professional hired just before the Ruatoki raids were launched. He was hired to design and implement a professional intelligence framework that did not previously exist. Now that Evans has introduced his new intelligence framework police intelligence analysts are required to be formally qualified with the National Diploma in Intelligence Analysis. That is one clear indicator of the previous shortcomings of police intelligence. The diploma and other intelligence qualifications were developed in cooperation with Massey University as part of the program to create a professional intelligence capability (see a future essay “Intelligence in an Intellectual Activity“).

I draw the information for this article from:

  • Patrick F. Walsh (2011), “Intelligence and Intelligence Analysis”, Routledge UK.
  • Patrick F. Walsh (2011), “The Future of Intelligence: fusion or fragmentation”, in The Journal of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers, Vol 19, Number 1.

Mr Walsh is a senior lecturer (criminal intelligence) at the Australian Graduate School of Policing, Charles Sturt University, Australia. He is a Board member of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO) and is managing editor of the AIPIO Journal.

In both publications Mr Walsh draws upon interviews with Mr Mark Evans who was recruited from Northern Ireland in September 2007, one month before Operation 8, to establish and to lead a professional Intelligence framework and capability within the NZ Police. Walsh uses the development of the NZ Police Intelligence framework as a case study in his scholarly works on Intelligence.

In an interview on 10 August 2010 Mr Evans is quoted as saying on pages 117 & 118 of the first reference:

“Management had little (or isolated) knowledge of what intelligence could do for crime and crash reduction. Whilst examples of excellent intelligence products did exist, there were no minimum standards and many lacked focus and credibility with police decision-makers. There was a lack of what intelligence meant or was intended for”.

Walsh reports on page 118 that a business case for a national intelligence development project was approved by the NZ Police Executive and:

“ … in September 2007 Mark Evans was appointed (initially on secondment, later permanently) from the Police Service of Northern Ireland to lead the project. A National Intelligence Office (NIO) was quickly established and set out ‘15 project deliverables’, which formed the basis of an initial 12-month action plan. In October 2008, following extensive review and consultation, the Police Executive endorsed one ‘NZ Police Intelligence Framework’ and approved the creation of a Police National Intelligence Centre at Police National Headquarters (PNHQ) to lead its strategic development”.

Walsh reports that from October 2008 widespread changes were introduced in tasking and coordination, intelligence collection, and analysis and production. He writes in relation to analysis and production that:

“ … the new framework has resulted in some major changes to the way the NZP assesses and produces intelligence. In 2009, the NZP invested heavily in the recruitment of 14 District Managers: Intelligence (DMIs) (in addition to the 12 Districts, DMIs were also appointed for Auckland Metro and AMCOS) at Inspector level (or police employee equivalent). This has provided, for the first time, a clearly identifiable ‘professional head of intelligence’ across every district. The DMIs have mostly been selected for their change management and people skills, rather than purely technical intelligence skills. The DMIs are responsible for leading the local development of improved standards in Intelligence (including the analysis component). They will also have an important role in ‘bedding down’ much of the new intelligence doctrine arising out of the new framework. They are supported by a new Manager: Analytical Services position at the NIC that is the de facto Head of Analysis for the organisation.

“In November 2009, the Police Executive endorsed additional improvements to enhance the analytical capabilities of the NZP under the new framework, including the NZP Professional Development in Intelligence Programme (PDIP). Evans notes that: ‘The PDIP is designed to redefine the intelligence workforce (so that is more visible, flexible, competent, frontline focused and effective)”.

Walsh also reports that resources are being invested in technology to support analytical work. He concludes with a resume of the successes achieved and challenges faced in the implementation of the NZ Police Intelligence Framework.

In a discussion on the effectiveness of the New Zealand implementation of intelligence led policing Walsh writes (Ref1, p136):

“The final area where there has been some early success has been the establishment of a professional development in intelligence programme to support the development of intelligence analysis within the new framework. There may be some resistance among intelligence staff, who are used to working in familiar ways to different standards, and this will require careful management. But already the articulation and development of improved analytical training, and creating career paths for analysts, demonstrate some early successes for this framework”.

The information sourced from Mr Evans and others clearly indicates that prior to his appointment in September 2007, one month prior to Operation 8, the NZ Police did not have a professional and competent Intelligence capability. Indeed the new Intelligence Framework was not approved until October 2008, and implementation did not begin until after that date.

It also indicates that there was much room for improvement and for the setting of professional standards in the area of intelligence analysis.

Resourcing the Operation 8 intelligence process

It is obvious that considerable resources in manpower, time and technology were committed to the collection of information during Operation 8. This is evident in the number of policemen and detectives who were assigned to collection, and who provided evidence. It is also evident from the large number of technological surveillance warrants obtained and in the prosecution evidence.

What is not obvious are what resources, both in staff numbers and capability, were committed to the much more important task of analysis. However it would seem from the quality of the product of that analysis that the Auckland Special Investigation Group led by Detective Inspector Bruce Good and Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe was under resourced in manpower, intellect, expertise and competence.

I have reached that conclusion after reading through thousands of pages of police evidence including affidavits, applications for warrants, warrants and briefs of evidence. In my time as an iintelligence analyst, admittedly over 35 years ago, the standard of work in all of that documentation would have been totally unacceptable. Some of that work will be scrutinised in later posts.

I am sure that little of it would reach the standards required today by Mark Evans’ new police intelligence framework and by the National Diploma in Intelligence Analysis, although the much lower standard does seem to be acceptable in the everyday work of the criminal detective. The work of the detective is to investigate crime after the fact whereas the work of the intelligence analyst is to predict crime. The latter requires a much higher level of intellect and training.

It would seem also from the comments by Walsh and Evans that the intelligence capability at Police National Headquarters, under Assistant Commissioner (Intelligence) Jon White, was less than optimal.

Since October 2008 considerable training and resources have been committed to building a professional intelligence analysis capability and one can only presume that it did not exist prior to October 2008. It was certainly not evident during Operation 8 from December 2005 to 15th October 2007.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The police raid at Parnell that got stopped in the High Court

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

We were raided at Parnell in Auckland on Monday October 15th 2007, exactly six years ago. It was part of the NZ Police’s Operation 8 “terrorist” raids at Ruatoki and elsewhere. There were raids on approximately 60 houses and premises around the country.

You can read about fifteen of those raids in a book edited by Valerie Morse, one of those raided, arrested and imprisoned that day (“The day the raids came: Stories of survival and resistance to the state terror raids“, Rebel Press, 2010). It includes the stories of the four known in the media as the “Urewera Four” who were the only ones who eventually went to trial in 2012.

Like many other raids all over the motu you didn’t read about this one in Parnell or see it on the TV. There was a good reason you didn’t see this one on TV. We took the police straight into the High Court, stopped the raid, and got a suppression order to prevent any publicity.

We had been in Tuhoe country for a few days before the raids, at my brother’s tangihanga at Tuai near Lake Waikaremoana, and got back to Auckland fairly late on the Sunday. At the time our company’s office was in Parnell and I had a small apartment downstairs from the office. I made it upstairs to the office about 9am. Some of my staff were already at their desks. It was a normal Monday morning at work.

Then I took a phone call from Wellington and was told to turn on the TV and watch a police operation in the Urewera. My caller also asked after one of my staff who had connections down there. He wasn’t at work and it didn’t take long for me to realise that he was probably one of the targets of Operation 8. Like thousands of others we watched that very public operation unfold. It seemed to me that a professional media campaign was an integral part of Operation 8 and that the police were deliberately imprinting their narrative into the public mind as part of the operation, before any other narrative could emerge. My media advisors agreed.

Just after midday three carloads of police drove up and parked outside the office. I saw them from my office window and went downstairs to meet them. They were CIB detectives and personnel from the Electronic Crimes Laboratory rather than the heavily armed faceless paramilitaries we were all watching on TV. They were led by Detective Wayne Bailey and Detective Joe Tipene, both Maori. Wayne showed me their search warrant and assured me that they were not armed. They were wearing the usual protective stab vests. I led them upstairs to the office.

The search warrant was a huge 20 page document. It listed all the items that the police were searching for including weapons, military equipment, clothing and computers. There were pages and pages of lists of things they were looking for. It was obviously an “omnibus” warrant that they were using right across the country. Most of it could not have been relevant to the raid on my office. There was no evidence at all that any of that stuff was in our building. It was a ridiculous warrant. It was also a lazy warrant and a shoddy piece of staff work, with nothing specific about what they expected to find at our location. There was this short paragraph about seizing computers.

  • All computer hardware and software necessary to gain access to data or programs contained on the storage media,
  • All computer storage media including ‘floppy’ diskettes, tapes, hard drives, and other devices containing programs or data,
  • All leads/cables and peripheral equipment necessary for the proper operation of the computer system,
  • All documentation including manuals, guides and other references which provide information necessary for proper operation of the computer hardware, software and peripheral equipment.

They herded us into our boardroom and told us that’s where we were to stay while they searched the premises. Wayne Bailey was in charge of the operation and he sat with us at the boardroom table taking notes. A policewoman photographer took photos of everything, including all the Maori art on the walls and tables. She seemed especially interested in the art. Maybe she was an art lover too. Or thought we were art thieves.

It soon became obvious that they weren’t looking for any of the weapons, clothing and equipment that made up most of the warrant. The detectives were there to allow the electronic crimes people to attack our IT network and computers. The first thing they did was turn off our connection to the internet and forbade us from going anywhere near our network. I realised then that only the one short paragraph of that voluminous warrant was applicable to us. The bit about computers. The rest of the 20 page search warrant was absolute rubbish, and they knew it. It was a fishing expedition, looking for anything that might justify what they had enacted at Ruatoki and elsewhere.

I also thought that in that case the warrant might have been illegal and that whoever had obtained the warrant from the Court might have perjured himself.

The electronic crimes people were not sworn policemen and were led by a German fellow. He seemed to us quite nasty. We found out later that he had been a NZ policeman before joining the electronic crimes laboratory and that even some of his colleagues thought he was a nasty piece of work. We nicknamed him and called him “Fritz” to his face, which didn’t endear us to him at all. Fritz’s real name revealed in the Crown Indictment of 2012 was Juergan Arndt.

It came to me that this was the same Fritz who had a score to settle with one of my employees. About three years earlier Fritz had tried and failed to have my man charged with computer hacking, a benign petty offence about defacing a political website on the information super highway. My man would never do that of course. But it would be about as criminal as defacing a political billboard on any other highway but the police have convinced the parliament that it is a serious crime. It gives them something to do. So Fritz might have had another agenda apart from Operation 8 – a little bit of unfinished business.

We found out that Fritz planned to seize every computer and hard drive he could find. That would have been over twenty five computers and servers and would have put us out of business. I did my calculations and worked out that with our offsite data backups I could recreate the network but that it would cost over $70,000 and take weeks to get back into business.

In the meantime we amused ourselves poking fun at them. Part of police method is to impose themselves, physically and psychologically, on the people and situations they are dealing with. Intimidation is another way of describing it. We saw on the TV and heard later from the media and from the Tuhoe people how that tactic had been applied in extremis down there. In our case it was mild by comparison. But being who we are we were having none of it anyway.

One of my sub-contractors arrived and was directed into the boardroom. He was the only Pakeha who worked out of our office. My business manager introduced him to the detective and told him that he was a Pakeha, and to be careful because Pakeha were dangerous. He was not amused.

Then we heard loud voices coming up the stairs and recognized the voice of Te Awanui Reeder of the Nesian Mystik band (now the famous entertainer Awa). His father worked with us and was in the boardroom. I’d known Awanui since he was a small boy. When he strode into the boardroom he saw Wayne Bailey, greeted him warmly “Hey Bro” and shook his hand. Then he told us that he and Wayne were drinking buddies! Awanui then pointed to his father and told Wayne to arrest him because he was very dangerous. It was hilarious.

One of the Nesian boys was with him and they had come to get my signature on his passport application. Awanui told me that they needed a kaumatua to sign and I was it. I asked Wayne if he realised that I was the Nesian Mystik kaumatua. The look on his face was priceless. They left with my signature after much banter about us being dangerous criminals.

At some point, probably a bit later, I went to my library and got my copy of “Mihaia: The Prophet Rua Kenana And His Community At Maungapohatu”, by Judith Binney, and gave it to Detective Bailey. He said he hadn’t read it and I told him he needed to.

It went on with Detective Bailey doing his best not to laugh or even smile. Eventually he gave in and left the boardroom. He was replaced by a young Pakeha policeman in civvies. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing a stab vest and he said he’d left it at the office. I told him he’d better get one because we were dangerous criminals. He was totally confused by our lack of respect. I felt sorry for the young man.

Throughout the afternoon Detective Bailey tried to get me and my staff to give statements about what we might know about the activities of our co-worker but he met with a wall of silence and outright refusal. And he couldn’t get my people to take the raid seriously.

While all this was going on Fritz and his people were busy locating and labeling every workstation, every server, and every portable hard drive they could find, including equipment downstairs in my apartment. After I realised what they were after and how it would affect my business I tried negotiating with the detectives to get them whatever files they might be after without taking down the business, I knew they were fishing anyway and wouldn’t find anything they were looking for. They consulted by phone with their supervisor Detective Sergeant Mark Gutry and the answer was an emphatic “No”. They were seizing everything.

So I rang the lawyers.

My lawyer was one of the partners in a big law firm and he quickly found another partner to represent me. This one was a former prosecutor, was highly experienced in criminal law and was an expert in the law regarding warrants. I faxed him the warrant. He thought the warrant was probably illegal and was certainly unreasonable as defined in the legislation. He recommended that I go to the High Court to obtain an injunction and I gave him the go ahead. He obtained a hearing for that afternoon, rang Detective Sergeant Gutry to tell him that the operation should stop until the High Court decision was made, and asked me to be at the Court for a hearing at 5.00pm.

My lawyer and Mina Wharepouri who was representing the police met in chambers with Justice Helen Winklemann. Detective Sergeant Gutry and I waited in a waiting room. I gave him an earful and he left to wait somewhere else.

    Detective Inspector Mark Gutry resigned in 2014 as he was being investigated for unlawfully accessing the Police National Intelligence Application twenty times seeking information on a woman who had laid a complaint against him.

It didn’t take long for an interim injunction to be granted with a full court hearing set down for 10.00am the next day. The raid was to stop until the court heard the application. I was to have no access to my technology and a police guard was to be posted in the premises overnight to ensure that I didn’t use it. The police were ordered to produce to the court the next morning the affidavit they had used to obtain the search warrant. We were attacking the warrant.

I went back to my office. A junior lawyer from my legal firm came with me to ensure that the police complied with the terms of the injunction.

By the time we got there the detectives and Fritz and his people had left and were replaced by a uniformed sergeant and a few constables. The sergeant was setting up an overnight guard with two constables in the premises at all times. He had placed one of them in my bedroom where there was a workstation and also a portable hard drive on my work table. I went into the bedroom and started to unhook the computer. The sergeant ordered me to stop but I told him there was no way I was allowing a policeman in my bedroom overnight. I told him I was ex-army and I didn’t trust sailors or policemen. He was not amused. My young lawyer was. So I handed him the computer and the portable hard drive and told him to put it upstairs with the rest of the equipment.

I had a bit of a laugh as well. Sitting on the table next to the labeled portable hard drive was a 60GB iPod. There were no files on the hard drive but all the personal and business backups were on the iPod. Fritz the computer forensics expert hadn’t realised that an iPod is also a hard drive and hadn’t labeled it to be seized.

There was another plainclothes policeman there. We hadn’t seen him earlier. He was big and intimidating. He asked my quite petite lawyer what she was doing there and she let him know she wasn’t intimidated at all. He then took an intimidating stance in front of me and asked me who I was. I looked at the nametag on his chest “Phil Le Compte” and said that’s a Hawke’s Bay family isn’t it. Taken aback he asked me how I knew that. I told him I went to school with a Le Compte and he asked me who that was. He was even more aback when I told him it was Alan Le Compte because it was his father. I said something uncomplimentary about father and son and he left.

You won’t see Phil Le Compte mentioned anywhere else in connection with Operation 8. Detective Sergeant Le Compte was at the time with AMCOS (Auckland Metro Crime and Operations Support) based in Harlech House with the Auckland SIG (Special Investigation Group) which was the lead agency in Operation 8. Le Compte did have a role in Operation 8 and that will be explored in a later article.

The next morning at 8.15 I got a call from the lawyer to say that the police wanted to negotiate an agreement before the full court hearing. They claimed that they didn’t have enough time to redact (blackout) confidential parts of the affidavit before they had to produce it in court. They had about 16 hours to do that between the hearing on 15th October and the full hearing on 16th October, so that was no excuse at all. It was bullshit. I knew then that they absolutely did not want that affidavit to be scrutinized by a high court judge lest the warrant be struck down. That was the same warrant that they were using all over the country and that would have been disastrous for Operation 8 (from their point of view).

My reaction to their raid had obviously taken them completely by surprise and they were scrambling to contain the situation.

Emotionally I was inclined to ignore them and to go straight to court. I was in the right sort of mood to take them to the cleaners regardless of the cost. But logic and reason prevailed as I had a business to protect and staff and their whanau to think of. So we went into conference at 9am at the High Court. My lawyer and I sat down with Detective Sergeant Gutry and his lawyer Mina Wharepouri. The two lawyers had already drawn up an agreement which we signed. Under the agreement:

  • They would not remove any of my computers and drives except for the one computer on my staff member’s desk; the staff member they had already arrested and imprisoned.
  • That computer was to be returned to my office within 72 hours (the police usually keep seized computers for months or even years).
  • The electronic crimes people would be permitted to inspect my file server, under my supervision, to locate and remove any files relevant to Operation 8, specifically files related to an encrypted online chatgroup called AoCafe (I knew that there would be none).
  • The police would facilitate contact with my man in prison so that I could obtain any passwords I might need.

We went into court to wait for the judge.

A feisty woman lawyer walked in for another case entirely. She looked around and remarked that the only criminals she could see were my lawyers, given the outrageous fees they charge. She was right in a way because High Court injunctions don’t come cheap and you have to be prepared to pay whatever it costs to stand up for your rights. Justice doesn’t come cheap.

We sat there twiddling our thumbs waiting for the judge. I told my lawyer I had his waiata ready. Then I asked Mina if his clients were going to sing his waiata. They were not amused. No sense of humour the cops.

It was Justice Winklemann again. She endorsed the agreement we had negotiated. Mina Wharepouri declared in court that the police had no interest whatsoever in me personally. We applied for blanket suppression of anything and everything that would indicate the identity of me or my business, and the location of my business, and it was granted by the judge. That was it.

In writing this piece I have unilaterally lifted that suppression order.

My lawyer remarked to me that it was rare indeed for anyone to bring a police operation to a grinding halt.

Back at the office Detectives Wayne and Joe were back and were very friendly. They seemed quite relieved that things had turned out as they had. Couple of good Maori those two. Then a new more senior contractor from electronic crimes arrived. He was businesslike and courteous and we got on with it. He found five files that he thought might have had some bearing on the case. I knew they wouldn’t and was quite happy for him to copy them. He restored our internet connection and we were in business again. We chatted and established that his father and I had both been majors in the Army and had worked together for a couple of years.

Wayne and Joe came over to hongi and they all left. My man was still behind bars of course.

My lawyer suggested that we ask the police to pay $2,000 towards my legal fees. I would have preferred to sue them for the lot but they would have contested that and it would have cost me a small fortune to recoup a tiny fortune. That same day the police agreed to pay the $2,000. Strategically it was a good move as it was an admission of some sort of liability.

That was almost that. We had some trouble with journalist Jonathon Marshall who was working for the Sunday Star Times. He was trying to get around the suppression order and was hassling me over the phone and had appeared at my office and tried to intimidate my business manager. A phone call from my lawyers to his editor put a stop to his shenanigans, before I got to him with a big stick.

We got the seized computer back from the police within the 72 hour timeline. I was a bit suspicious that they might have loaded it with a bug or two. We took it apart and didn’t find anything but just to be sure we cleaned the hard disks and got rid of it. We donated it to a needy community group!

Over the next few weeks a few right wing bloggers tried to get around the suppression order by mentioning that my man had been employed as an IT manager and inserting links to my company website. So we wrote a script, a small programme, that intercepted any traffic coming to my webserver from those blogsites, and diverted the requests to a spoof website. That website was pretending to be by one of the worst of the bloggers and it was lampooning him mercilessly. Some kind person had conveniently built it right at the time we needed it. We thought that was an elegant strategy.

After we had settled down and got the business back on track we had time to reflect on a few incidents leading up to the raid on 15th October 2007.

Our office cleaner usually arrived at about midnight. One night she disturbed someone in the office, near the computer server room, and whoever it was fled down the stairs and out the door. Which we realised in hindsight was a bit strange because our office was locked and alarmed. Whoever it was would have had to disable the alarm without setting it off. On reflection we thought it was probably the police and they had probably used a warrant to force our security company to disable the alarm for them. Whoever it was would have found that our server room was locked and alarmed as well.

In the week leading up to the raid my sister (who was my business manager) had noticed two suits sitting in a car in our carpark. She used to arrive at work very early and go for a walk. They were there when she arrived about 6am. They were still there when she got back from her walk. She challenged them and they left. However her red car was the one that spent most time in the carpark and we are now fairly sure it was bugged with a GPS locator.

In the few days before the raids when we went to my brother’s tangihanga at Tuai in Tuhoe country she came with me in a rental car. Her daughter and son-in-law drove her red car to Tuai and back. On the way back to Auckland on Sunday 14th October they followed us in the red car. Along the way they were stopped for no reason at all by a police patrol. They were questioned and explained that they were following their mother in her car. The police let them carry on. They thought it was strange at the time.

So we were also under police surveillance leading up to the raids.

I readily acknowledge that our experience was mild compared to others at Ruatoki and elsewhere. We for instance did not have rifles or submachine guns poked in our faces and pointed at the heads of our families. Ours was a minor episode in the whole shocking saga.

But this story is the starting point for a full analysis of Operation 8 in future articles. As a retired army officer and a former intelligence analyst I was very interested in the intelligence analysis that led to the “termination” phase of Operation 8. I then started to collect as much information as I could to analyse the intelligence operation behind Operation 8. I followed the case through the courts to the High Court criminal hearing in 2012 and thence to the Court of Appeal. I did some work for the defence team at the trial.

I early on came to the conclusion that the police operation was incompetent and unprofessional. I concluded that the detectives involved were total amateurs in the field of Intelligence and that their incompetence, and the incompetence of their superiors, had led to a debacle from which they scrambled to extricate themselves. They had the the help of a very professional and strategically canny prosecution lawyer, Mr Ross Burns. The courts have also established that the police had knowingly acted unlawfully in obtaining and executing warrants during the intelligence operation.

This series of articles will describe in detail all of that. And Te Putatara will raise a series of questions that have never before been asked, and certainly not answered.

Links: The Operation 8 Series


Spooks & Maori: Operation Leaf

Who was spying on Maori in 2004?

Following the Foreshore and Seabed Hikoi to the Parliament in April/May 2004 the Maori Party was formed on 7 July 2004.

On 11th November 2004 Scoop ran an exclusive by Selwyn Manning headed “Intelligence Sources Say SIS Investigating Maori Party”.

“Intelligence sources have revealed the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) has launched a major covert operation investigating the Maori Party, co-leader Tariana Turia, its members, networks and associates”.

“Next year’s General Election could potentially see the Maori Party hold balance over what party leads a coalition government. Recent poll trends suggest if Labour is to emerge from an election to lead for a third term it would need support from the Green Party and the Maori Party. The later has yet to express a preference between a Labour-led or National Party-led government.

“This scenario has caused intelligence officials to consider what the potential consequences of a centrist Maori political force would have on the internal security of New Zealand.

“Scoop understands three people in particular have been singled out for thorough investigation: Brian Dickson, Whititera Kaihau, and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia”.

On 21st November 2004 the Sunday Star Times led with this opening to an exclusive by Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hager:

“The SIS has been involved in a widespread and probably unlawful campaign to infiltrate and bug Maori organisations, three spies have told the Sunday Star-Times.

“They provided a detailed description of a top-secret programme called Operation Leaf, a major SIS campaign targeting a variety of Maori organisations and individuals over several years”.


“The spies claim:

  • The SIS contracted “computer geeks” to engineer contact with Maori organisations and plant bugging equipment on their computers or change the settings to allow remote access.
  • They were told to gather intelligence on internal iwi business negotiations, finances and Treaty claims and inter-tribal cmmunications.
  • They were instructed to watch for “dirt”, including “personal information, relationships, money issues, family secrets” on Maori leaders.
  • Serious divisions exist within the intelligence community, with some spies believing the SIS is too deferential to Western agencies”.

There was much information about the activities of the SIS including this:

“The spies claim that the SIS targeted politicians and those active in the Maori Party. Peter says he was told by the SIS to cultivate a Maori MP. Another intelligence source says he was told in mid-2002 that another Maori MP was a “hot target’’ – SIS jargon for someone being bugged.

“Maori Party leader Tariana Turia, interviewed by the Star-Times, could cast no light on the matter. However, she did say that in about March this year she had had trouble with the phone in her ministerial house. When speaking on the phone in the kitchen, the whole conversation “would come through the radio in the bedroom’’.

She had hired a security company recommended by the Parliamentary Service to sweep the house, “and they found that in fact it [the phone] had been interfered with’’.

However, the company had also told her it was unlikely the SIS had done so “because they had more sophisticated means of tracking’’.

On the same day Scoop published a backgrounder about the claims written by Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hager.

Murray Horton wrote it up in Peace Researcher in March 2005. 

And the next month on 11th April 2005 Prime Minister Helen Clark released a statement which began:

“I have received a letter and report dated 31 March from the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security about last year’s allegations by the Sunday Star-Times and Scoop that the Security Intelligence Service was bugging law-abiding Maori for political intelligence.

“The stories, signed by Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hager for the Sunday Star-Times and Selwyn Manning for Scoop, were said to be based on reports by “dissident spies” involved in an alleged “Operation Leaf”.

“I can confirm today that the Security Intelligence Service had no operation called Operation Leaf, or anything like it. The same applies to a so-called Operation Weasel.

The Inspector-General’s conclusion, stated in his covering letter to me, “is that the reaction of the Director of Security when the material was published was correct: the story, apart from some base facts about dealings with one iwi, was a work of fiction on the part of the newspaper’s sources”. The Inspector General found no connection whatsoever between work done on the iwi’s computer and the SIS”.

That same day the National Business Review allowed itself to crow, just a little:

“It’s always a shame when a few stubborn facts get in the way of a great yarn but “Operation Leaf” was a story that required a suspension of disbelief on even its basic premises.

“Now it has been undone by no less a figure than the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Justice Paul Neazor, who found the tale to have been fabricated by “sources” that had no credibility”.

One of the hoaxers did make a public statement the next day.

And that was that. Operation Leaf was a hoax.

In Peace Researcher in March 2006 Murray Horton wrote a fairly full report on the hoax and the people who perpetrated the hoax.

Now I haven’t recounted this whole story in some detail just to embarrass my friends in the media. They were taken in and we still don’t know exactly why. I have recounted it in order to add to it an intriguing account of my own from seventeen years earlier, in 1987. It is relevant as you will see.

In 1987 I was in Wellington and had been out of the Army for over five years. For just over a year I had been working with two Board of Maori Affairs programmes, MANA Enterprises and Maori ACCESS (MACCESS).

In August 1987 I was told by an ex-Army colleague that he had been contacted by the father of a young Maori captain in the Army. The young officer had recently returned from the Middle East where he had served as a United Nations observer. A few days before his father contacted us his son had been picked up by two SIS officers, and accused of subversive activity by being present at a meeting of Maori radicals in Auckland with a representative of a Middle Eastern organisation. He was interrogated and intimidated. His father said he had been threatened and told that if he told anyone about the interrogation his career in the Army would be destroyed. He was frightened and told his father.

I got the officer to come to Wellington the next day and I sat him down, reassured him that he would soon be in the clear, and debriefed him. His story was just as his father had related, and he told me in detail exactly what had happened during his interrogation. He told me everything he could remember about the questioning and allegations, including the names of those Maori activists who it was alleged were at the meeting with him.

I knew some of those who were named. It didn’t take long to establish that two of them at least had not been at the meeting and that they were not even in Auckland on the day of the meeting.

I rang the late Brigadier Lin Smith who was Director of SIS at the time and asked for an immediate appointment. He agreed. I had known Brigadier Smith for over twenty years and had served with him in the Army. I knew him to be a man of honour and integrity. I knew that he would listen.

I started to tell him what I was there for and he stopped me. He then asked his PA to summon two of his officers and to fetch the file on the case. When they arrived he introduced them to me as two former RNZAF officers, and the two I was talking about. He asked me to start again and I told my story, including the fact that I had conclusively established that the young officer had not been at the meeting, and that two of the other named persons had not been there either.

In front of me Brigadier Smith then tore shreds off his two officers. He ordered them to cease their surveillance, saying that he had told them before that they were to stop what they were doing. He made it quite clear to them that the file was closed. Then he sent them packing. We sat and chatted for a while after that about old times in the Army and about what I was up to. Unexpectedly he gave me the identity of the Maori who was the SIS informant whose information had led to the interrogation of the young officer. He also told me that I could tell the other two people that I had cleared that the SIS had no interest in them either.

The next day I called the captain to my office and gave him the all clear and sent him happily on his way.

During the week after that I received job offers via two other former Army officers I knew to be SIS recruiters. I declined.

A month or two later a Maori Affairs officer working in our project office showed me a letter she had got from a person in her church congregation. It was a request for her to become an SIS informant and listed the sorts of information he was interested in. It was mostly to do with identifying all those who were getting funding from the MANA and MACCESS projects. He was also interested in what I was doing and who I was meeting. I recognized his name as it was one of the former RNZAF officers I had met in Brigadier Smith’s office. What was interesting was that their church was one of the more evangelical.

It was interesting because an evangelical couple John and Sharon Fawcett had been telling private church meetings about gun running, arms shipments and guerilla training camps involving Maori radicals. Unknown to them a tape of one of their meetings had been made and copies were circulating in church congregations. This was at a time when rumours were rife about probable armed struggle by Maori extremists with Libyan involvement. The Maori Affairs officer did not become an SIS informant but I learned more about my religious and paranoid new friend in SIS.

About that time I also became aware that defence reporter Roger Foley of the Evening Post in Wellington was occasionally reporting about the SIS. I put two and two together. He was also ex-RNZAF and his informant or informants had to be one or both of my disaffected new SIS friends. His information was definitely from inside SIS.

On 30th May 1988 Foley reported:

“Allegations to the Post by “members of the intelligence community”, that Lange had asked SIS for a report on left wing subversion of Labour Party in Auckland in lead up to 1987 elections”.

On 14th June 1988 he reported:

“Five past and present members of the SIS call for an independent audit of management and decision making”

They gave as their reasons:

  •  Low morale
  • Outflow of experienced or key staff
  • Inflexible management
  • Political interference
  • Maori activists not being under surveillance
  • closure of Wellington branch office
  • lack of internal complaints system

In relation to Maori activism Foley wrote:

“SIS previously took a close interest in Maori activists, in particular Waitangi Day celebrations. But according to one source field surveillance of activists stopped in 1984 because Brigadier Smith regarded Maori activism as legitimate dissent and protest and it was too sensitive an issue in which to involve the SIS. For information on this subject the service was told to rely on newspaper accounts”.

Some time after that Foley reported that two SIS officers had been dismissed. The SIS surveillance of Maori that Brigadier Smith had stopped was apparently named Operation Leaf.

Helen Clark said in her release on 11th April 2005 that “I can confirm today that the Security Intelligence Service had no operation called Operation Leaf, or anything like it”. Obviously the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Director SIS did not search far enough through the files to discover the real Operation Leaf back in  the 1980s.

Which leaves an intriguing question; how did the 2004 hoaxers know about Operation Leaf? None of them were former SIS officers as was initially reported in the media. Did one of them read and remember Foley’s article in the Evening Post sixteen years earlier? Did the one who used to be a Labour Party staffer know about the pre-1984 surveillance? Or was there another unnamed conspirator involved in the hoax, getting a little payback? One of my former RNZAF friends perhaps?

There are other questions arising from the 2004 hoax. 2004 was a strange year. It began with Don Brash’s inflammatory Orewa speech  on 27th January. Later in 2004 the police tried and failed to charge a person they believed was Bl@ckMask who had allegedly defaced a National Party website after the speech at Orewa. In April/May 2004 there was the Foreshore and Seabed hikoi to Parliament that resulted in the formation of the Maori Party. And the allegations made by the Op Leaf hoaxers was that the SIS had the Maori Party under surveillance.

However, at that time and before the Op Leaf hoax Te Putatara had independently established that someone was using IT contractors to gain access to Maori computers. Additionally a Maori IT person had also revealed that while working at an internet provider he had worked with the police to monitor internet activity by Maori. He had also been involved in monitoring activity related to the Seabed & Foreshore hikoi. It was well established that the police had since 1984 assumed responsibility for surveillance of Maori.

Did the Inspector-General for Intelligence and Security bother to investigate whether the police Intelligence people were doing what the SIS was alleged by the Op Leaf hoaxers to have done? Was it police intelligence that had the Maori Party under surveillance?

As the Indonesians say “There’s a prawn behind that rock”. Is there a policeman there as well? And a former RNZAF, former SIS officer? Getting crowded behind that rock folks.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

The Spooks & Maori – a brief history

A Brief History of a Long One-Sided Engagement (although Maori have long acted as informants for the other side)

A long essay (7,374 words)

Like death, taxes and politicians the intelligence gatherers or spooks have been with us for millennia, and will be with us forever. 4,500 years ago the Chinese master strategist Sun Tzu wrote on the use of spies in “The Art of War”, and the principles and practices he laid out then are as relevant today as they were in those ancient times. He was of course writing about human intelligence (HUMINT) long before the technology revolution.

Surveillance of Maori by the spooks, whether military, security or police, has been taking place for about 300 years and continues to this day. Our history with the spooks starts during colonisation. For many decades the main targets of the spooks were Maori.

“When British troops were stationed in New Zealand following colonisation, some of the engagements between the Government forces and rebel native tribes indicated serious shortcomings in the intelligence process, particularly with respect to analysis and interpretation of information, of which often there was no shortage from reliable sources.

Fast forward to Operation 8 in 2007. Nothing much changes with respect to serious shortcomings, and analysis and interpretation.

“Following the normal practice a Deputy Quartermaster General was appointed to the staff of the Officer Commanding the Forces in New Zealand. In addition to his responsibilities for the logistics of the forces, he and his staff undertook intelligence duties including observation and reconnaissance in the field.

“Many expeditions were small enough for the field commanders to act as their own intelligence officers and to deal directly with their sources among the friendly Maori, traders, missionaries and settlers. In the early days this led to some British officers, confident in the superiority of the British bayonet, refusing to accept the advice of those who knew the Maori and his capabilities.

“The local forces which were raised, at first to supplement and eventually to replace the regular forces, included men who were familiar with the territory, the bush and the Maori and who were able to play an important part in the intelligence process. Engaged at first as “Interpreters” they were often in the position of scouts, guides and intelligence officer, and a number went on to play leading parts in the Armed Constabulary when it was formed to take over from the British regiments that were being withdrawn from the colony.

“A few units were specifically raised to act as scouts but more often this function was undertaken by bush-wise men within ordinary rifle or mounted units. The term “Guides” had often been used by the British Army to designate a unit whose function was intelligence gathering, the most famous of these being the Indian Army “Corps of Guides”. A Corps of Guides was raised in Wanganui in 1869 and although small in number, at first seven and seldom reaching twelve, did excellent work in the campaigns against dissident Maori leaders Titokowaru and, later, Te Kooti”.

Sub Rosa Inc, NZ Intelligence Corps Assn contributed by Major (Retd) Ray Hurle.

At that time the military played a major role in intelligence gathering. They were spying on Maori before, during and after all of the many military engagements during the New Zealand Land Wars and other military actions up to and including the invasion of Parihaka in 1881.

In 1846 Governor Grey also established an armed police force to “preserve order and suppress rebellion”. This would have been the beginning of the formal intelligence activities of the police.

In 1863 the NZ Settlement Act and the Suppression of Rebellion Act were enacted in Parliament, and Governor Grey invaded the Waikato. The Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002 has a whakapapa. In 1798 a Suppression of Rebellion Act was passed in the UK to suppress the Irish. It was the model for the NZ Suppression of Rebellion Act 1863. At Ruatoki in 2007 the police reached for the newest of those acts, the Suppression of Terrorism Act. The “suppression” acts all provide for extraordinary state powers of surveillance, search, seizure and arrest, and all remove democratic rights.

Governors and ministers also built their informant networks among Maori and those who dealt with Maori. Sir Donald McLean “Te Kiore Kaiwhenua”, land purchase agent, politician and farmer was almost certainly an intelligence agent as well. Of all of the early settlers he would have been one of the best placed to play the role of spy or spymaster. If the spymaster was not McLean it was someone like him. McLean was also a senior Freemason. Governor Sir George Grey was actively involved in collecting information and may well have acted as his own spymaster.

“ ….. and to deal directly with their sources among the friendly Maori, traders, missionaries and settlers”.

That snippet of history shows the extent of the informant network in the 1800s. Before the advent of the wireless and telephone, HUMINT (human intelligence) was the primary source of information; human spies. And before the telephone letters were used to convey much intelligence. In this modern era we focus our attention on the technological and electronic collection of intelligence employed by for instance GCSB, SIS and the Police. Despite the dominance of technology in the modern Intelligence process HUMINT remains an important source of intelligence and the informant networks are still embedded and active. The sources are still “friendly Maori, traders, missionaries and settlers” or their modern day equivalents. Your dodgy cousin perhaps.

There is no direct evidence that he was an active spy but Rev Karl Volkner was certainly one of those sources and he may have died on 2nd March 1865 because of it. Volkner did keep up a correspondence with Sir George Grey informing him about Maori in the East Coast region, including information about military capacity and intentions. Many of the “Pakeha-Maori” who lived among Maori at the time also acted as informants for either Government or Maori, or both.

While Sir George Grey was primarily concerned with Maori he did keep his eye on French expansion into the Pacific. His successor Sir George Bowen was also concerned about Russian expansion into the region. Lieutenant General Sir William Jervois during his term as Governor (1883-1889) was greatly concerned with the threat of Russia and by the end of his term he had bequeathed a network of coastal and harbour defences looking outwards to the external threat of Russia. Japan became a concern early in the 20th century but Russia remained the primary perceived threat up to World War I.

Those bogeyman threats, like reds under the bed, the red menace, the yellow peril and the tangerine terror of the middle of the 20th Century served to divert attention from Maori to some extent but not entirely.

In the latter half of the 19th century the Fenians or Irish Catholics became a security concern because of their support for their homeland during the troubles with the British. The Irish in New Zealand earned the great honour of being a target of internal surveillance along with Maori. Perhaps they were the first of the non-Maori political dissenters to exercise the minds of the spooks.

The waterfront strikes and violence of 1913 would have momentarily diverted the spies eyes from Maori, but not for long.

The police were involved in spying on Maori in the early part of the 20th Century and leading up to their assault on Ngai Tuhoe at Maungapohatu in 1916. According to the SIS website the police took the primary official role in internal security and surveillance from 1919 onwards.

During the World Wars (1914-18 and 1939-45) the German threat became a focus, as did the Japanese threat before and after Japan entered the Second World War.

However Maori did become a target during WW1 because of conscription and the resistance to conscription in Tainui-Maniapoto led by Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Herangi (“Princess” Te Puea). The government then targeted men of Tainui-Maniapoto to be conscripted and if they resisted they were jailed. A Te Putatara correspondent relates the well known story of how Te Puea was spied on at her home in Ngaruawahia. The spy used to park his car outside her house but instead of shooing him away she would invite him in for lunch or a cuppa.

In the period between the wars the Ratana Movement was founded, became politically aligned with Labour, and took its take to England and Japan. There is no doubt that Ratana and his followers would have come under very close police surveillance, especially after the visit to Japan.

Perhaps the participation of Maori in both wars, the Pioneer Battalion in WW1 and particularly the 28th Maori Battalion in WW2, helped to reduce the paranoia and surveillance of Maori. By then of course the spooks had other things to worry about.

From as early as 1840 the ideas of Karl Marx and the notion of workers’ rights had reached the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand but did not gain traction until about the turn of the century. Communism, socialism and trade unions eventually become the main target of the spooks, before during and after the wars, and remained so for decades until the capitulation of the trade unions as a dominant political force in the 1980s and 1990s and the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The decades long history of that political “subversion” in New Zealand is covered in detail in “Spies and Revolutionaries, A History of New Zealand Subversion” by Graeme Hunt (2007, Reed Publishing, Auckland).

The decade and a half after WW2 was relatively free of paranoia about Maori subversives as the country recovered from the war, and once again immersed itself in the culture of rugby. A great many Maori families had sacrificed their sons to the European war, and there were a large number of Maori ex-servicemen, visible testimony of that sacrifice. It was a tragic and costly demonstration of Maori loyalty to the Crown. Many of the politicians and community leaders in the two or three decades after WW2 had served alongside Maori and were genuinely sympathetic to Maori aspirations. Many, including Sir Robert Muldoon, were not.

The economy also went through a boom led by an increase in wool prices as a result of the Korean War (1950-1953). Paranoia always reduces during times of prosperity and optimism. Despite that, the underlying ignorance and racism that are the seedbeds of paranoia did not diminish.

In 1955 the NZ Special Air Service (SAS) was formed for service in the Malayan Emergency. In 1957 a regular force infantry battalion was formed and was sent to Malaya. Both contained a proportionately large Maori contingent, to the extent that in my time almost every Maori whanau had a member serving in the Army. The battalion remained continuously in South East Asia until 1989. During that time and since Maori have moved up through the army’s ranks and some have also moved across into the security and intelligence services. The writer served in the Army from 1962 to 1982 and there was a greater acceptance of Maori as part of the “establishment” although it was not total.

The media and others speculated in 1988 that the late Brigadier Lin Smith, then Director SIS, had stopped surveillance of Maori in 1984 because of political pressure from the Lange government. However Lin Smith knew Maori better than most of his staff in the SIS and better than most politicians. His decision was based on his knowledge and experience. He was university educated and intellectually astute. He was a man of integrity and principle and would have been guided in his decision by his principles.

By 1965 he had risen through the Territorial Force and Regular Force to the rank of lieutenant colonel. However in 1965 he dropped rank to major to serve as second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel Brian Poanaga in the battalion in Malaya. He did so at the request of his friend Poananga. Lin Smith worked closely with Brian Poananga for two years in the battalion and came to know Maori officers and soldiers at close quarters. The writer served in that battalion. The writer also served with them again in the early 1980s when Major General Poananga was Chief of Army and Brigadier Smith was again his deputy.

As Director SIS Lin Smith genuinely considered that Maori were not a threat and stopped SIS surveillance. The writer discussed the matter with him in 1987. Perhaps his decision was also influenced by Robert Muldoon’s abuse of power and his political misuse of the SIS during his term as prime minister and minister in charge of the SIS from 1975 to 1984.

But Maori remained in the sights and again became primary targets. Who are the watchers?

It might surprise those who are paranoid about the SIS that as at 2013 the NZ Police Force has actually had primary responsibility for surveillance of Maori for all but 30 of the last 94 years.

  • 1919 – 1941 NZ Police Force
  • 1941 – 1945 Security Intelligence Bureau (established by the military but under control of the police 1943-45)
  • 1945 – 1949 NZ Police Force
  • 1949 – 1956 NZ Police Special Branch
  • 1956 – 1969 NZ Security Service
  • 1969 – 1984 NZ Security Intelligence Service
  • 1984 – 2013 NZ Police Force

 – Primary source: NZSIS website

29 years ago in 1984 under the late Brigadier Lin Smith the NZ Security Intelligence Service relinquished its lead role in the surveillance of Maori and it was resumed by the police.

What needs to be understood is that the NZ Police Force has always been an internal intelligence agency in addition to its main law enforcement role. Throughout its existence that intelligence function has included political intelligence as well as criminal intelligence. They have often confused the two.

However in the 1970s and until 1984, the years of Maori activism and protest, the SIS was still primarily responsible for surveillance of Maori. For about nine of those years Muldoon was in power.

Maori were involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s and 1970s and came under scrutiny along with everyone else. Maori also played a significant role in opposing the 1981 Springbok rugby tour. Many Maori activists who took part in those tour protests had been involved in the anti-Vietnam War protests and in the Maori protest movement from about 1971.

In 1971 Nga Tamatoa staged the first big protest during the Waitangi Day commemoration at Waitangi, They and other groups were to play leading roles in Maori political activism for the next decade or more.

In the early 1970s I became aware that the security and intelligence community was actively monitoring that broad Maori protest movement. I was working in the military as an intelligence analyst at the time on secondment to Australia. A visiting senior intelligence office from Wellington quizzed me on my attitude to Nga Tamatoa. I think I failed the test.

From 1975 Maori radicals and Socialist Unity Party members were the two whipping boys that Sir Robert Muldoon used to his political advantage during his own prime ministerial reign of terror from 1975 to 1984. Well he did destroy a lot of his opponents, real and imagined, including the ones he found in the bottom of a whiskey bottle and under his bed. He also used the anti-apartheid movement in the early 1980s to arouse the passions to his political advantage, and in his own version of paranoia committed New Zealand to a civil war in 1981, over a rugby tour. Throughout his reign he used the intelligence agencies to further his political agendas. In 1980 he released an SIS document highlighting infiltration by the Socialist Unity Party into trade unions. In 1984 he released another document about subversives and radicals in the anti-apartheid movement.

Why go on about Muldoon? Because another Muldoon could easily become prime minister and use or be used by the security and intelligence agencies. That is one of the major concerns about the 2013 GCSB Bill and other search and surveillance legislation. A future prime minister, given greater and greater surveillance powers by an apathetic and compliant parliament, might conceivably turn those powers upon Maori. Imagine a Robert Muldoon clone as a future prime minister.

In 1975 there was the Maori Land March from Te Tai Tokerau to Parliament. Some Maori involved in the march were members of Nga Tamatoa, the Communist Party and other “subversive” groups and would have been under constant surveillance. What governments and the agencies have never been able to understand is that Maori radicals and activists have always been first and foremost Maori, and their membership of the so-called subversive organisations has always been a means to an end – mana motuhake Maori.

In 1977 Ngati Whatua occupied Bastion Point and were finally evicted by force in 1978. In 1978 Tuaiwa Rickard was arrested for trespass after occupying part of her ancestral lands on the Raglan Golf Course. Ngati Whatua and Eva Rickard were both to eventually win their battles to regain their lands but were vigorously opposed by Muldoon. No doubt they were under surveillance by the security and intelligence agencies.

During that time the anti-apartheid movement was building with significant Maori participation. The SIS had infiltrated the movement and on 25th August 1981 Robert Muldoon released an SIS document listing a number of people who were classed either as members of subversive groups or as radicals. Of the 15 named individuals three were Maori who were also active in the Maori protest movement.

In the 1980s the Waitangi Action Committee was at the forefront of Maori protest. Included in their network were former members of Nga Tamatoa and members of Orakei Action Committee, Bastion Point Working Group, Auckland Committee on Racism and Discrimination, Pakehas Against Racism Campaign and the Ponsonby Black Women’s Movement. These were all under surveillance. At least three of the “radicals” under surveillance later became Members of Parliament. For some detail about their activities see “Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou, Struggle Without End” by Professor Ranginui Walker (1990, Penguin, Auckland).

In 1987 in his maiden speech in Parliament Ross Meurant, who until then had been a police inspector and had been heavily involved in policing the Springbok Tour, spoke at great length about the threat of Maori radicals and terrorists. He named individuals and organisations. His information was culled from police intelligence files. I reproduce in full that part of his speech dealing with Maori terrorism. It makes fascinating reading.

“I now wish to speak briefly about the advent of racial terrorism. They say that until an alcoholic acknowledges that he has a problem there is no hope for a cure or a remedy; I say that until we are able to admit that we have a problem with our race relations they will steadily deteriorate. When white middle-class New Zealanders turn on the television they see radical nationalist Maoris demanding land and compulsory Maori language in schools; insulting white New Zealanders; swearing that white man’s blood will run in the streets; and threatening the rest of the country with armed revolution. White New Zealand hears calls for absolute Maori control of our country, sees Maori gangs involved in shocking crimes—and white New Zealand turns off. The backlash has begun.

“We must also maintain our vigilance against extremist elements in our society that would exploit our racial difficulties and that advocate the overthrow of the New Zealand Government by armed force and the removal of white New Zealanders. Who are the people who want total Maori control of New Zealand? They are Maori radicals who espouse a philosophy of nationalism, yet accept assistance from communist States and training in Third World countries. Those people include Atareta Poananga, Titewhai Harawira, Hinewhare Harawira, Rebecca Evans, Donna Awatere, Hilda Halkyard Harawira, and Emily Karaka, who are the principal cell of the Maori nationalist movement in New Zealand. They call the shots. Males are regarded as inferior, and sit in the second row. They include Arthur Harawira, Hone Harawira, Mangu Awarau, Benny Dalton, Dr Pat Hohepa, Eru Potaka-Dewes, Norman Te Whata, Syd Jackson, and Haami Piripi. Those people operate under several organisational labels — the Waitangi Action Committee appears to be the umbrella group, with PENAK, NFIP, MLPA, Rangitahi Action Group, and Te Ahi Kaa some of the subsidiary groups.

“As an inspector of the New Zealand Police, I — along with others — watched the movement grow. Those people were first seen at Bastion Point in 1978; they then moved to Waitangi, and turned our national day into an annual battle between police and protestors. In 1981 New Zealanders experienced unprecedented violence in the streets as members of the group recruited, organised, mobilised, and motivated gang members across the nation, from the Mongrel Mob to the Headhunters, to clash with the police. They have moved underground, and they are now a greater danger; they now plan to overthrow the New Zealand Government. Poananga stated: “We want all the land back, every inch of it.” She also said that they will resort to the barrel of a gun to achieve their goal. That group will never succeed with its objective, but — as with the Black September movement in the United States — it will cause a lot of misery and turmoil, and the danger it presents to the nation must not be underestimated.

“What are those people doing now? They have even moved inside the system. Rebecca Evans, for example, has taken a job in broadcasting. Goebbels understood the importance of the news media. Others have taken up a variety of welfare positions, particularly within the mental health field. The group is now ensconced at CarringtonHospital in Auckland, and uses that hospital’s telephone, stationery, and office space. At one secret meeting they had with Abu Laghood, a Palestine Liberation Organisation representative, the principal question asked of Laghood was: “How do we get firearms and explosives from the PLO?”

“The group has become so powerful at CarringtonHospital that it is able to effect the channeling of hospital funds away from projects given priority by hospital management into the dubious area of Maori mental health. Maori mental health includes the indoctrination of young Maori gang members with the concept that they are in prison or discriminated against because of the white man, and that their salvation lies in revolution. The group at CarringtonHospital now controls a Maori ward. Access to that ward is only on the authority of Titewhai Harawira — even the doctors must get Harawira’s permission before they enter the ward. I say that that is an outrage — an outrage that has happened only under the Labour Government, and that is happening at this moment. The group has become so powerful that a hospital superintendent spoke out publicly about their actions earlier this year. He was not exaggerating about the group’s influence, because, unfortunately, when the issue was forced again last month it was Dr Radcliffe, the hospital superintendent—not the radical social workers — who was put off the hospital staff. I put this outrage before the nation as an issue that demands an immediate and independent inquiry now.

“Those Maori nationalists form a network throughout the country. Hone Harawira is the principal trustee for the Aupouri Ngati Kahu Te Rarawa Trust in Northland, which has received $1.5 million from the training assistance programme, the Access programme, and the Department of Maori Affairs in the past 3 years. Haami Piripi, who is chairman of the Aupouri trust, is also head of the Rangitahi Action Group, which is subservient to the Waitangi Action Group. The Aupouri trust administers some 14 training groups, one of those being Whakakoro Kohanga Reo — language nest — which is administered by Hilda Halkyard Harawira. Another of those groups is the Ani Wha Niwa in Kaitaia, which is administered by Hone Harawira. The Taumata Kohanga Reo spent its initial setting-up grant of $5,000 on the purchase of a vehicle. The accountability of the Aupouri trust for the moneys it receives is questionable, at best, with the opportunity for misappropriation being considerable. I share the concerns of intelligence-gathering agencies that the political activities of the Waitangi Action Committee are funded by moneys stolen from grants made to the trust or other welfare sources.

“Group members have extensive contacts abroad. In 1978 Awatere, Evans, and seven Socialist Unity Party members went to Cuba, where Awatere and Evans met with the Palestine Liberation Organisation leadership for the first time. Evans says that she learnt there that 400 000 Maori people could take on 3 000 000 whites. Awatere and Hilda Halkyard Harawira went to the Vanuatu celebrations, and in 1980, together with Hone Harawira, they participated in the boycott of the Brisbane Commonwealth Games. On 4 April 1987, Awarau and Dalton and two others booked to fly to Libya, and recently Hilda Halkyard Harawira went to Denmark to receive a communist-supported peace prize. As recently as last month, Poananga, Harawira, and Hohepa went to Fiji to seek Colonel Rabuka’s help to overthrow the New Zealand Government by armed force.

“I place this information before the nation, which also demands an inquiry into the distribution of $1.5 million through the hands of those terrorists. Those people are dangerous; they are growing in strength, and in confidence, and we must move to put into place the State machinery to deal with them. The police are neither equipped nor trained to deal with terrorists. A terrorist has a totally different psyche from the everyday criminal. As a nation, we must look at setting up a Government unit to maintain surveillance of and to infiltrate that kind of terrorist group.

“Up until now, the country has relied on the Security Intelligence Service to fulfil that type of role, but I believe that that service is in need of a major overhaul. The effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of the Security Intelligence Service over the past 24 months may be due not so much to its ability to do the job as to the Lange Labour Government directing the Security Intelligence Service not to infiltrate or maintain surveillance of Maori radical gangs. “Do not spy on our terrorists”, it was told. That action by the Labour Government was a danger to national security”.

 – Hansard, 6th October 1987

It all seems rather ridiculous 26 years later. To his great credit Ross Meurant has long since recanted and admitted that after the mind broadening experience of university and the world outside the police he came to realise that he was wrong. He attributed his then attitude to 20 years service in the NZ Police within a culture of paranoia he callsDeep in the Forest.

The speech does however reveal how much surveillance of Maori was being conducted and how the police thought at the time. And if you compare that mentality to the mentality behind the Operation 8 raids on 15th October 2007 nothing much has changed.

Following the election of a Labour government in 1984 and a Maori Economic Summit (Hui Taumata) in October that year, funding started to be delivered to Maori through tribal and community providers. The paranoia surrounding that is told in full in the essay “The Origins of Corporate Iwi”. It was fairly intense and Maori came under some intense surveillance, as told by Ross Meurant.

The so-called Maori Loans Affair of December 1986 raised other security fears, that Maori were being used by the CIA to destabilize the Labour government. So now we were terrorists with communist links, and at the same time we were handmaidens of the CIA.

Throughout the 1980s there were rumours circulating about Maori terrorism, guerilla training camps, arms caches and gun running all thought to be financed via the new funding programmes aimed at Maori communities. At Te Putatara we discovered that those rumours were believed by some in the security and intelligence agencies.

On 14th June 1988 Roger Foley reported in The Evening Post in Wellington that several present and former officers of the SIS were calling for a probe into the operations of the SIS. Among other things they were upset that Maori activists were not being monitored by SIS, that activity having been stopped in 1984 by the Director of SIS Brigadier Lin Smith.


SIS previously took a close interest in Maori activists, in particular Waitangi Day celebrations. But according to one source field surveillance of activists stopped in 1984 because Brigadier Smith regarded Maori activism as legitimate dissent and protest and it was too sensitive an issue in which to involve the SIS. For information on this subject the service was told to rely on newspaper accounts.

Ross Meurant responded in the media the next day saying that the SIS woes were known to the police. He was also reported as saying that the police received valuable information about Maori during the 1981 Springbok tour and at some time during 1985 “there did not appear to be the same availability of intelligence from the SIS.” He went on to reveal that “about that time the police were becoming more concerned about Maori activism.

In the same month Te Putatara was contacted by a journalist looking for information about surveillance of Maori who travelled overseas, especially in the Pacific. He was jokingly told to ring the Director of the External Intelligence Bureau (EIB), but to ring him at home. He did. He managed to contact Bernard Hillier at home after working hours and Hillier seemed to be intoxicated. When asked if Maori were under surveillance in the Pacific Hillier said that they were. His confirmation was reported in the Dominion. It was a massive blunder on his part and he was fired. The EIB was renamed EAB (External Assessments Bureau) and moved into the Prime Minister’s Department. He issued a media release as he left his job stating that the EIB was not actively involved in intelligence collection but was an assessment agency only. Hillier got himself a soft landing as a diplomat on a Pacific island. He was right about EIB being only an assessment agency but also right in confirming that others were spying on Maori in the Pacific.

In July 1989 Te Putatara reported that Paul Holmes had run a show about gun running and landing craft in Te Tai Tokerau in which the journalist Rob Harley had rubbished the claims Te Putatara responded with a spoof called “The War of the Blowfly” in Te Putatara 7/89, 20 July 1989.

In 1990 New Zealand commemorated 150 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Queen visited and attended the official commemoration at Waitangi. For the police that was a massive security and intelligence operation. For at least twelve months before that the police gathered intelligence about Maori activists’ plans. They may well have infiltrated some organisations. Te Putatara reported this in August 1989:

TV Plod

“The kumara vine reports a video crew travelling the motu passing itself off as an overseas TV crew. The funny thing is that they are only filming you Maori radicals, and activists, and veteran land rights campaigners (all you Te Putatara readers). My sources say they look awfully like Her Majesty’s Most Loyal New Zealand Police People, or Security.

“E hoa ma, this must be the Police Intelligence project to commemorate 1990 eh! Wonder if they got a grant from the 1990 Commission, or the Arts Council, or the Film Commission?”

 – Te Putatara Issue 8/89, 21 August 1989

Although tongue in cheek it was a serious warning to readers that the police did indeed have an intelligence gathering crew on the road attending many hui and posing as a TV crew. The commemoration on 6th February 1990 was quite uneventful from a security point of view. The police were obviously expecting a massive Maori demonstration or protest for they deployed a large contingent. They also erected a barbed wire enclosure to act as a temporary prison. The police themselves caused the only trouble at Waitangi by illegally handing out trespass notices to anyone they recognized as an activist, and even to some who looked like an activist.

In that year of celebration, in 1990, the Bill of Rights Act was enacted. It lacked and still lacks constitutional authority. If it had been made Supreme Law the courts would be able to strike down any existing or proposed laws in conflict with the Bill of Rights. Maori (and all citizens) would have greater protection from the spying and prying of the spooks, including the police.

The paranoia continued until the 1990 elections in October when a National government was elected. The Nationals continued with the process of Treaty settlements and with the delivery of services to Maori through tribal and community providers. The first two big Treaty settlements to Tainui (1995) and Ngai Tahu (1998) were iconic in that they signalled to Maori that grievances were going to be settled. Language revival initiatives including the Maori Language Commission, Maori medium schooling and Maori broadcasting finally started to address the core demands of activists from the 1960s onwards.

Those and many other initiatives started by Labour and continued by National took much of the anger and passion out of the activist movement. They also moved much of the impetus away from Maori activists into the hands of more conservative Maori. As the various programmes rolled out Maori conservatives moved in to manage them, many of the activists were effectively sidelined and many of them joined the establishment. Some became MPs. It seemed during the 1990s that the level of paranoia about Maori decreased. The ignorance and racism continued as many New Zealanders resented the gains that Maori were making. Many still do.

The National government led by Prime Minister Jim Bolger and Treaty Negotiations Minister Doug Graham seemed to have consciously decided to take the heat out of Maori activism and out of the Pakeha backlash (“race relations”) by meeting and settling many of the demands of the previous decades. The police continued their surveillance.

In May 2000 Te Putatara published a piece on “Security & Intelligence – Watching the Watchers“. In it Maori were warned that it was the police who were the biggest watchers rather than the SIS. Although the article was re-published in a couple of other websites Maori didn’t seem to take much notice.

The period of relative calm ended after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC on 11th September 2001. In 2002 the Parliament enacted the Terrorism Suppression Act. The SIS and GCSB were expanded and the police responded with new units and staffing:

“New positions established to increase capability to pre-empt and respond to terrorist attacks include:

  • An Assistant Commissioner to take an executive lead on counterterrorism and national security matters
  • A full time Special Tactics Group to respond operationally to terrorist emergencies
  • A full time Specialist Search Group and National Bomb Data Centre Manager
  • A new Strategic Intelligence Unit (SIU)
  • New liaison positions at diplomatic missions in London, WashingtonDC and Jakarta, and the pending creation of a further liaison position in Suva
  • Additional police at six New Zealand airports

The police then formed the Special Investigation Groups (SIGs) in 2005 with offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. When he announced the formation of SIG in the 2004 budget minister Phil Goff said they were to boost New Zealand’s counter-terrorism capacity and would be “deployed for specific national security duties” by the Strategic Intelligence Unit at police national headquarters. Goff said at the time 29 new police staff would go to units conducting investigative and intelligence-related work. Most or all of these were likely to have been SIG staff. They were “intelligence” units.

The subsequent surveillance activities of the SIGs against civil activism rather than  terrorism are now publicly documented (see the Gilchrist saga). In the absence of credible terrorist threats (which would be the responsibility of SIS anyway) they turned their attention to political activism. They had in effect used the post 9/11 hysteria to build themselves an enhanced political intelligence capability under the cover of anti-terrorism. They had at last returned to their Police Special Branch roots officially disestablished in 1956 but this time they have much greater surveillance capacity and a paramilitary offensive capability. The Urewera (and Kim Dotcom) raids showed that they had become much more heavy handed than their Special Branch predecessors.

Much of this new police intelligence establishment was in 2006 and 2007 brought to bear on the so-called “terrorists” in the Urewera. Head of Intelligence Assistant Commissioner Jon White was involved, SIG Auckland led Operation 8, and the Special Tactics Group of paramilitaries was used to conduct the raids.

The Police Electronic Crime Laboratory also received more funding, staff and equipment and developed a new Electronic Crime Strategy.

The e-Crime Lab was heavily involved in the Operation 8 raids across the country as dozens of computers were seized from multiple addresses as the police went on a nationwide fishing expedition looking for evidence to corroborate their allegations of terrorism. It was as if they had imagined that there was a nationwide terrorist plot afoot. They found no evidence.

Prior to the 2007 raids there was a build up of surveillance of Maori by these new units. Prior to and during June and July of 2002 there was heavy surveillance and a heavy police presence at the protests against the Ngawha Prison being built in Te Tai Tokerau. Police surveillance cameramen were also present at the court hearings of those protestors who had been charged. Police acted very aggressively and unlawfully against those who tried to film their heavy handed tactics and their police cameramen. As reported to Te Putatara at the time the police assaulted several people who were trying to film them.

In 2002 a police note (referred to in the later Operation 8 evidence) recorded that Taame Iti and Rangi Kemara had been seen together in Mangere. It is probably not surprising that Taame was under police surveillance and had been under surveillance for decades. He knew that too.

In 2004 police tried and failed to charge a person they believed was the Bl@ckMask who had allegedly defaced a National Party website after its then leader Don Brash had delivered a speech at Orewa that many considered inflammatory and racist. The e-Crime Lab was the lead agency in that investigation. This alleged offence was brought into their evidence about Operation 8 in 2007, indicating that it was one of the long lasting intelligence threads leading to Operation 8.

The Foreshore & Seabed Hikoi to Parliament took place in April & May 2004. Police surveillance of that event was heavy and was reported to Te Putatara by a source involved in the surveillance.

In November 2004 following the Seabed & Foreshore Hikoi and the formation of the Maori Party there were allegations in the media that the SIS had been conducting an operation called “Operation Leaf” against Maori. The allegations were:

  • The SIS contracted “computer geeks” to engineer contact with Maori organisations and plant bugging equipment on their computers or change the settings to allow remote access.
  • They were told to gather intelligence on internal iwi business negotiations, finances and Treaty claims and inter-tribal cmmunications.
  • They were instructed to watch for “dirt”, including “personal information, relationships, money issues, family secrets” on Maori leaders.
  • Serious divisions exist within the intelligence community, with some spies believing the SIS is too deferential to Western agencies.

Tariana Turia was also concerned that her privacy had been compromised as part of that surveillance.

It proved to be a hoax after the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security reported that the SIS had not been involved. The Director SIS also assured Tariana that his organisation had not bugged her telephone. However there had definitely been surveillance of Maori and their computer systems by someone. Te Putatara knew about that from various sources prior to the “Op Leaf” hoax. No-one thought to investigate the police instead of the SIS. Tariana needed to question the police commissioner rather than the SIS director.

On 30 November 2004 The US Embassy reported on their discussions with SIS about “Op Leaf”:

“(S) Post’s RMAS spoke with SIS contacts, who stated that the press claims are not credible. They further stated that the SIS had monitored Maori groups in the past when they were considered a possible national security risk, but stopped doing so at least 10 years ago. In fact, when the RMAS asked SIS last year if they were looking at Maori groups in the wake of press reports that some Maori were embracing radical Islam, SIS said no, as they thought the police were doing an adequate monitoring job”.

– Wikileaks

On 16 January 2005 Taame Iti shot a flag with his shotgun on his marae during a theatrical powhiri to the Waitangi Tribunal. He wasn’t charged initially as the local police were not concerned but paranoia and pressure from Wellington had him in court over a year later. He was convicted in June 2006 but that was overturned on appeal in April 2007.

In December 2005 the police, according to their own evidence, started “collating and analyzing 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”.

That culminated in the Operation 8 raids on 15th October 2007. The “collating and analyzing” of “intelligence” will be examined in future articles.

For a brief history this is a long essay. Hopefully it serves to add some context to the Operation 8 raids on 15th October 2007. Historically, the Urewera raids were entirely in context. They were a continuation of a long history of ignorance, racism, paranoia, suspicion and surveillance.

Whether or not the conclusions the police drew from that surveillance were reasonable or not is the subject of the series of “Operation 8” essays to follow.

The latest revelations in 2013 following Kim Dotcom’s legal team’s uncovering of further illegal spying, search and seizure, and in the wake of leaks by US citizen Edward Snowden about the extent of electronic spying in the “5-Eyes” network, as well as the introduction of a bill to allow the GCSB to conduct its operations in New Zealand against New Zealanders, has raised the spectre of even more enhanced and intrusive spying against Maori. The real threat is still from the NZ Police who will now legally be able to use the GCSB in their spying against Maori. And if the past is any indication of the future they will.

The NZ Police have demonstrated their ignorance, racism and paranoia about Maori and Maori activism over an extended period. The NZ Police have demonstrated their propensity to go beyond the legal boundaries in relation to warrants and surveillance and there is no reason to believe that their behaviour will change any time soon unless and until stronger legal safeguards and sanctions are put in place.

In a previous post Te Putatara outlined the need for a grownup threat analysis of terrorism. The same should be required of the police to justify their surveillance of Maori – a real grownup intellectually rigorous threat analysis based on knowledge, expertise and evidence instead of the immature ignorance, racism and paranoia that has prevailed for generations. In the interests of accountability It should be a public document.

Looking back over the history of the spooks and Maori I have reached the conclusion, strange as it may seem, that Maori would be much better off if the intelligence function were to be removed from the police and returned to the SIS. The lesser of two evils as it were. The problem with the police is that they are constantly engaged with criminals and criminality. Many of the criminals are Maori. Because their primary engagement is with criminals the police have a “Them & Us” complex, and that feeds their racism and paranoia. The mind of the policemen is hard wired thnrough experience and culture and they tend to see political activism or Maori activism through that prism of criminality.

The police also have a strong enforcement function, bolstered by a paramilitary force (Special Tactics Group). That combination of surveillance, intelligence and enforcement functions in the one organisation is dangerous.

Last night I watched for about the tenth time the film “Deep in the Forest” about the raids at Ruatoki and elsewhere on 15th October 2007. It was a huge over-reaction, locking down and terrorising an entire community in order to arrest just a few people. It was the culmination of an intelligence operation notable for the instances of illegal use of warrants, illegal surveillance, and on the day illegal detention, search and seizure. That much has been established by the courts and by the Independent Police Conduct Authority. No-one has officially been held to account for that unlawful behaviour.

There needs to be a mechanism that places a strong check on the actions of the State, enforced by strong sanctions. To start with Maori need the Bill of Rights to be entrenched as Supreme Law.

See also this 1998 study on racism in the NZ Police.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

The Surveillance State

The GCSB Bill, surveillance legislation and debacle

I have never worked for the GCSB. But I did work in Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) in the early 1970s, a few years before the GCSB was established in 1977. I was an officer in the NZ Army at the time.

In those days before New Zealand gained its own full service SIGINT organisation (GCSB) we were seconded to Australia where all of the processing of intercepted communications was done. New Zealand contributed some intercept and received whatever processed intelligence it needed. We were part of what was then called the UKUSA Agreement between the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is now called the “Five Eyes Agreement” in the media at least.

It was very secret at the time, The UKUSA Agreement was a secret agreement and the SIGINT organisations in the five partner nations did not officially exist. The first public expose of NSA and the UKUSA Agreement was in Ramparts magazine in August 1972 (“US Electronic Espionage: A Mermoir”). James Bamford wrote the first full expose in “Puzzle Palace” in 1982. Their existence and their collaboration is no longer a secret as it was then. Our participation by working in and with Australia is also no longer secret. In his book “Secret Power” Nicky Hager has documented all of that history.

My involvement was in the early 1970s. What was different then compared to now was the World War II generation. I was trained by them and worked for them.

In the NZ Army the WW2 generation was still in command. In the Parliament then, until about 1984, many of the members and some cabinet ministers were WW2 generation. In the SIGINT organisation we few New Zealanders worked for in Australia it was still headed by the WW2 generation.

That generation and their predecessors in the WW1 generation had fought alongside England, Canada, Australia and the USA against Germany, Italy and Japan to protect democracy against various forms of totalitarianism. They had fought to preserve representative democracy, the rule of law, and the hard fought freedoms and rights that had been gained through centuries of struggle to break the hegemony of kings and bishops. In two brutal world wars those men and women had watched tens of thousands of their comrades die on battlefields and in hospitals in Europe and in the Pacific. Many more of their comrades were injured, physically and mentally, some of them debilitated for life. Almost every New Zealand family had lost someone.

During the Cold War from the end of World War II until about 1991 New Zealand was a member of the allied bloc that opposed the totalitarianism of the USSR and China. That too was a struggle to preserve representative democracy, the rule of law, freedom and rights from the encroachment of undemocratic forms of government.

Regardless of what one now thinks in hindsight about those 20th century hot and cold wars and New Zealand’s part in them, they were a continuation on a global scale of a struggle for liberty that began in the 16th century in Europe during the Reformation. The Reformation was a struggle for religious liberty and was followed across the centuries by struggles for political liberty, freedoms and rights. The rights and freedoms now codified in United Nations conventions and in our own Bill of Rights resulted from the allied victory in WW2 and the determination to preserve on a global scale what countless thousands of men and women had fought and died for with huge sacrifice.

The men I worked for carried the remembrance of that sacrifice with them. They rarely spoke of it and then only to those they knew would understand how they thought and felt, such as a young army officer who was a veteran of another more recent war. But in their every action and decision they demonstrated their total dedication to the democracy and rights and freedoms they had fought to preserve. Those were the men who trained me in signals intelligence.

In the political sphere some like war veteran Sir Robert Muldoon went overboard in their pursuit of the imagined enemies of democracy. He often chose to see his political enemies as enemies of democracy but he was the exception rather than the rule. The officer who commanded him in WW2, Sir Jack Marshall, and other war veterans in his Cabinet were more measured in their defence of democracy. The men I worked for in signals intelligence were politically conservative like a great many of their generation and were staunch in their commitment to democracy.

In the signals intelligence organisations in my time we would never have contemplated conducting surveillance of our own citizens, regardless of the perceived or actual threat they posed to society. That was the work of other agencies and we never assisted them in that work. Never. It was strictly forbidden and that restriction was honoured absolutely. We certainly had the means but we never ever used them against our own.

With the passing of the WW2 generation the dedication to democracy, the rule of law, freedoms, rights and privacy is weakening. The remembrance of threats to the democracy fades with the passage of time since the last external threat. But it has always been the internal threat that has had the most potential to erode democracy. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance we were told by one of the founders of the modern liberal democracy. The external threats in the form of wars have served to remind us from time to time that democracy is indeed exceedingly fragile and is always vulnerable.

Perhaps the erosion of democracy from within is exemplified by the attitude of the Facebook generation to privacy. It doesn’t seem to understand that in undervaluing and relinquishing privacy in the pursuit of identity, recognition and sometimes fame and celebrity, that generation is opening up a crack in democracy. Waiting outside to exploit that vulnerability are anti-democratic forces.

Those anti-democratic forces are the law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies that have convinced politicians of the two major political blocs in New Zealand to enact a raft of anti-democratic legislation since 9/11. The Parliament itself whilst being the protector of democracy, a bulwark against attack, is at the same time the most serious threat to democracy. It and it alone has the power to erode democracy if it so chooses. And it has chosen to do so, most recently in the GCSB Bill.

The parliamentarians of today are the Facebook generation of politicians who have no personal memory of the heavy cost of democracy. In their psychological distance from World War II and from the World War II generation most of them have an increasingly cavalier attitude to democratic rights. They take democracy for granted. They navigate to the “Democracy” page, click on “Like”, then pass legislation allowing the spooks to trawl through everyone’s Facebook details.

The world of secrets and secrecy is cult-like. Only the initiated are admitted. The price of admission is recruitment and selection to the fold, positive vetting (PV) or clearance by the SIS and the “need to know”. The more you are allowed to know the more important you are in that exclusive club.

Secrets and secrecy can be seductive, beguiling, even bewitching. When you are privy to highly secret information (or at least to information classified as highly secret) you begin to feel part of a powerful elite, one of the chosen few. The higher your security clearance the more beguiling it is. Unless you are a hard bitten down-to-earth war veteran like my mentors it could even give you a feeling of omnipotence, a wide-eyed all-knowing omnipotence.

That applies to politicians inducted into that exclusive world of secrets and secrecy by reason of political ambition and electoral chance. Politicians get themselves inducted and seduced.

Politicians may know some secret stuff but they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know about security.

Security is a trade off and there is no such thing as absolute security. Our politicians would serve the nation best by reading Bruce Schneier on security instead of mouthing meaningless inanities about national security. Schneier is a former NSA insider and acknowledged expert on security. The Parliament is forcing a whole nation to trade off elements of its democratic rights and freedoms to attain the unattainable without having any real say in the matter.

Politicians don’t know that our individual rights and freedoms are not theirs or the Parliament’s to trade off.

They don’t seem to know or understand that in a matter as fundamental as democratic rights and freedoms those rights and freedoms are not politicians’ or Parliament’s rights and freedoms to trade off in the pursuit of national security. Although Parliament is sovereign in our form of democracy the democratic rights and freedoms remain with the people. They are individual rights and freedoms. It says so in the United Nations conventions and in our own Bill of Rights.

Democracy is also a trade off. What we as individuals in a liberal democracy need to understand is that if we value democracy then we have to accept some trade offs. We cannot have absolute security if we are to have liberty. Democracy like life is a risky business and to have either we must accept the risk. In life for instance we accept that risk every time we drive on the roads, or eat a cream cake, or bungy jump. To live democracy we must do the same.

As a society we are being led to believe that risk can be averted by increasing the powers of the law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies. The risk of terrorism and organized crime has been vastly over-hyped and overrated. Whilst there is certainly some risk it is nowhere near as grave as we are being told, and much less than a liberal democracy can accept and sustain in order to preserve that democracy.

Politicians don’t know that we don’t need to trade off too many democratic rights and freedoms in order to sustain democracy.

We just need to accept the risk. Perhaps as I enter into my eighth decade of life I just have a better appreciation and understanding of risk and acceptance. Life is a risk.

In strategy as in life I have come to appreciate simplicity and elegance. They are two of the most important tools in life’s toolbox.

An elegant outcome is the one achieved with precision, cleanly and simply. It is the one achieved by focusing on what you really want to achieve, not just on what you can achieve with all the tools available to you. Even if you own a shipyard why would you build a ship when all you wanted to do was cross a river, and when a sleek and elegant canoe would do the job.

The elegant outcome seems to have been achieved easily with a minimum of fuss and effort. The elegant outcome is the one achieved by cutting through ambiguity and skillfully negotiating a way through a rapidly changing environment. It is not achieved by taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

There are simpler and more elegant ways to preserve national security without population wide surveillance. They can be found through the application of wisdom and intellect. Just because we can now use the tools of technology to know everything about everyone doesn’t mean that we should.

Politicians don’t know that there are many more tools in the box but that the agencies have handed them a sledgehammer and convinced them that there are only sledgehammers in the box.

They don’t know because they are naïve and gullible in matters of national security; babes in the woods in that world of secrets and secrecy and security. They are gullible because they have had their minds focused for them on national security by the purveyors of secrets. What we really want is democracy and all that entails. We need purveyors of democracy in our parliament. The preservation and protection of democracy is paramount. Any consideration of national security must come firstly from within the greater of the two competing ideas; from a consideration of democracy.

Being the Facebook generation the politicians are far removed from all memory of the struggle to protect democracy. They don’t know democracy. Not in their hearts they don’t. Just go to the Facebook page “Democracy”, click on “Like”, feel good and leave it at that.

I read in the overseas media that some of the old hands in NSA, the US surveillance agency, have been quitting in disgust at the lip service now being paid to democracy by their new masters in the world of spooks. Like me they were brought up to believe in democracy and to absolutely respect the privacy of our own citizens. They can only express their disgust by walking. Some of the old hands are speaking out.

That’s how I feel too. Viscerally disgusted.

Sun Tzu on The Use of Spies

Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese master of strategy. He wrote his “The Art of War” circa 2,500BC. To this day it is considered a masterpiece. He had this to say on the use of spies.

Sun Tzu said:

Raising a host of a hundred thousand men and marching them great distances entails heavy loss on the people and a drain on the resources of the State. The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces of silver. There will be commotion at home and abroad, and men will drop down exhausted on the highways. As many as seven hundred thousand families will be impeded in their labor.

Hostile armies may face each other for years, striving for the victory which is decided in a single day. This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy’s condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honors and emoluments, is the height of inhumanity.

One who acts thus is no leader of men, no present help to his sovereign, no master of victory.

Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.

Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits; it cannot be obtained inductively from experience, nor by any deductive calculation.

Knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions can only be obtained from other men.

Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes:

  • Local spies;
  • inward spies;
  • converted spies;
  • doomed spies;
  • surviving spies.

When these five kinds of spy are all at work, none can discover the secret system. This is called “divine manipulation of the threads.” It is the sovereign’s most precious faculty.

Having local spies means employing the services of the inhabitants of a district.

Having inward spies, making use of officials of the enemy.

Having converted spies, getting hold of the enemy’s spies and using them for our own purposes.

Having doomed spies, doing certain things openly for purposes of deception, and allowing our spies to know of them and report them to the enemy.

Surviving spies, finally, are those who bring back news from the enemy’s camp.

Hence it is that which none in the whole army are more intimate relations to be maintained than with spies. None should be more liberally rewarded. In no other business should greater secrecy be preserved.

Spies cannot be usefully employed without a certain intuitive sagacity.

They cannot be properly managed without benevolence and straightforwardness.

Without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports.

Be subtle! be subtle! and use your spies for every kind of business.

If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy before the time is ripe, he must be put to death together with the man to whom the secret was told.

Whether the object be to crush an army, to storm a city, or to assassinate an individual, it is always necessary to begin by finding out the names of the attendants, the aides-de-camp, and door-keepers and sentries of the general in command. Our spies must be commissioned to ascertain these.

The enemy’s spies who have come to spy on us must be sought out, tempted with bribes, led away and comfortably housed. Thus they will become converted spies and available for our service.

It is through the information brought by the converted spy that we are able to acquire and employ local and inward spies.

It is owing to his information, again, that we can cause the doomed spy to carry false tidings to the enemy.

Lastly, it is by his information that the surviving spy can be used on appointed occasions.

The end and aim of spying in all its five varieties is knowledge of the enemy; and this knowledge can only be derived, in the first instance, from the converted spy. Hence it is essential that the converted spy be treated with the utmost liberality.

Of old, the rise of the Yin dynasty was due to I Chih who had served under the Hsia.

Likewise, the rise of the Chou dynasty was due to Lu Ya who had served under the Yin.

Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying and thereby they achieve great results.

Spies are a most important element in water, because on them depends an army’s ability to move.

So sayeth the Master.