Maori Policy: Challenging the Status Quo. A Call to Reengage in the Struggle.

And let’s take a good look at ourselves while we’re at it.

    “It behoves politicians, bureaucrats, academics, researchers and activists to become not just economically literate but economically expert if they are to challenge the status quo. This is no short term quest”.“Draining the Swamp” the previous essay in this series on Maori policy.

I wrote in that essay that becoming economically literate and building economic expertise was a necessary step towards gaining access to the levers of New Zealand’s economic policy settings. The policy settings that must be changed in order to design and implement economic policy that would benefit all Maori, not just the Pakeha elites and to a much lesser extent the Maori elites.

But that comes later I now realise.

Before that can happen the authority and control of the power elites must be challenged and broken for they control and manipulate those economic levers to suit themselves. The power elites are by definition in Aotearoa New Zealand overwhelmingly Pakeha, and male, and they will not take their hands off the levers without a struggle. In an earlier struggle it was the unions and the Labour Party that led the way. Alas, the unions are no more and the Labour Party has turned away from its founding principles and has forsaken the poor and the downtrodden.

Power elite” is a term borrowed from American author C. Wright Mills and his 1959 book “The Power Elite”. It was about the structure of power in the United States focusing on the military, corporate and political elites and their control over the supposedly democratic processes of government. The idea in contemporary times is often expressed as the “deep state”, the “permanent government” or the “shadow government” and although a topic of serious research and commentary it is often adopted by conspiracy theorists. As a concept of power relationships however “power elite” fits the New Zealand context, certainly since the neo-liberal revolution of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Power is the root of the long struggle we now politely label “Maori development”. The relationship between Maori and Pakeha, between Maori and government, has always been a relationship of unequal power and our struggle to regain lost power. We call it rangatiratanga.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s the late Bruce Jesson chronicled the rise of a new power elite in New Zealand; a power elite he described as the “New Right” and the “Libertarian Right”. The actors in that power elite were drawn from politics, the economic bureaucracy, corporations and academia. See “Pakeha Networks” in the September 1988 edition of “Te Putatara”. That 1988 analysis was drawn from Bruce Jesson’s “Behind the Mirror Glass” (Penguin, 1987).

In his posthumously published “Only Their Purpose is Mad, The Money Men Take Over NZ” (Dunmore, 1999) he described how the power elite, particularly the finance sector, had taken over the country. See here for a review. His analysis was prescient as nine years later in 2008 the finance sector had taken over the global economy and brought it to its knees.

Nowadays no-one seems to be keeping tabs on the elites but in the sixteen years since that last Jesson book a new generation of actors has joined the power elite, and their neo-liberal agenda has been firmly embedded as political and economic orthodoxy; the new status quo. A key aim of that agenda is to entrench itself so deeply that no future government will be able to reverse it. It has worked so far.

The four wings of the power elite are:

  • political;
  • bureaucratic;
  • security, intelligence and law enforcement; and
  • corporate.

The political wing of the neo-liberal power elite is today is led by John Key, Bill English, Stephen Joyce, Gerry Brownlee and the fast rising Paula Bennett. Judith Collins is the cheerleader for the extreme right of the power elite. Prior to them the political wing was pretty much dominated by Helen Clark, Heather Simpson and Michael Cullen. The underlying neo-liberal agenda was the same in both cases. Although on the surface and according to its propaganda Labour policies might have seemed somewhat progressive at a microeconomic level, at the macroeconomic level nothing had changed from previous governments. Indeed the Labour Party of today sits on the neo-liberal right of Robert Muldoon’s National Party of the early 1980’s.

Since 1984 the different shades of politician have cycled and recycled through government but the macroeconomic agenda has remained constant. Little change can be expected if Labour manages to unseat National again.

The powerful bureaucrats in the control ministries and the economic ministries remain in place throughout, totally committed to defending their neo-liberal agenda. They are from Prime Minister and Cabinet, State Services Commission, Treasury, the Reserve Bank, Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise, Ministry of Primary Industry and others. A formidable force they are in a very real sense a permanent government and defenders of the status quo.

The security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies have gained more and more power from gullible and compliant parliaments since 2002 and are part of the power elite. Their agenda is not primarily economic although the intelligence agencies do gather economic intelligence. They do however serve to reinforce the dominance of the power elite through ever increasing controls over the population. The NZ Police in particular over recent years have demonstrated their disposition to silence democratic dissent; to indulge in political intelligence and surveillance, in heavy handed suppression of protest and demonstration, and unlawful investigation in the service of the power elite.

Corporations are deeply embedded in the power elite with ready access to political and bureaucratic policy makers. They and those they serve are perhaps the main beneficiaries of the present political and economic paradigm. The access of Time Warner (Peter Jackson), Sky City and MediaWorks to this government are publicly revealed examples.

The most glaring example of access to and exercise of power was in the negotiations towards the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In those negotiations politicians, bureaucrats and influential corporates acted together in secret on behalf of the people of Aotearoa New Zealand who were, with most of their elected representatives, totally excluded. The TPP negotiations were a blatant exercise of power by the elected and unelected elites acting together for their mutual benefit. Corporates from across all TPP countries actually wrote much of the agreement.

In Aotearoa New Zealand corporate membership of the power elite now includes the finance sector, energy, media, transport, telecommunications, the primary industries and others. Prior to 1984 large parts of those industries were publicly owned and controlled. Privatisation has meant much more than passing of ownership from public to private hands. It has resulted in those private hands now being part of the power elite; the ones in control of our lives. The neo-liberal agenda of the 1980s and 1990s was not just about economics and business and the transfer of capital; it was about a massive transfer of power from the people and their elected representatives to the unelected.

The main corporate umbrella is The New Zealand Initiative formed in 2012 from a merger of The New Zealand Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute. It is a neo-liberal think tank and membership organisation with about forty corporate members listed in its website which states:

    “Our members come from various backgrounds and represent the New Zealand economy in all its diversity”.

Which can only be so if you believe that those New Zealand businesses represent the New Zealand economy, which also quite surprisingly comprises about 4.5 million individuals, their civil society organisations, thousands of small and medium size businesses, as well as the forty or so business members of the NZ Institute and however many individual members they have. They actually represent the big end of New Zealand business.

It further states:

    “Together the members of the NZ Institute form a network of high profile individuals and firms united by their passion for good public policy”.

Good public policy” meaning of course what is good for big business and what is good for the power elite. Unless of course you really believe that what is good for them is good for everyone, all 4.5 million of us. The statistics put the lie to that.

Max Rashbrooke’s recent book “Wealth in New Zealand” (Bridget Williams Books, 2015) contains statistics that show just who benefits from this concentration of power in the hands of the few:

  • The wealthiest 1% of New Zealanders own 18.1% of the nation’s wealth;
  • The wealthiest 5% own 39.4%;
  • The wealthiest 10% own 53.5%;
  • The wealthiest 50% own 96.1%; and
  • The next 50% own under 4% of the nation’s wealth. Among them are the disenfranchised and the “disinherited ones to whom neither the past nor the future belongs”.

Ethnic statistics show that:

  • Pakeha (71% of the population) own 85% of the nation’s wealth;
  • Asians (10%) own 7%;
  • Maori (12%) own 5%; and
  • Pasifika (5%) own 1% of the nation’s wealth.

Those figures combined with the statistics in a previous essay “The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy” graphically illustrate that inequality and poverty are now accepted and quietly promoted by the power elite as the new status quo. It is a status quo that must be challenged and broken if Maori policy is to have any chance of bringing hope and dignity to most if not all Maori people; and to all of those who are the disenfranchised and the disinherited. The discarded.

Policy that would matter to the disenfranchised and disinherited never makes it onto the policy agenda. Poverty and inequality are dirty words. Policy that would matter is rarely if ever seriously discussed and debated in the halls of power. Politics and policy formation in this day and age are about mindless rhetoric, about avoiding the challenge of ideas, dumbing down policy debate, about discouraging the disenfranchised and disinherited from any engagement in the political process, and pushing through the agenda of the power elite in the guise of economic policy. In neo-liberal LalaLand the disenfranchised and disinherited are blamed for their own plight.

Policy that would matter to the disenfranchised and disinherited would be about people not just property and profit, about the dignity that all citizens are entitled to in a democratic society, and about the representation of their interests in the democratic process. About the mana of the people. But we are moving away from democracy and towards plutocracy; rule for the wealthy by the wealthy and those who serve them. The statistics in this case do not lie. We are becoming a plutocracy disguised in democratic form.

How can that status quo be challenged and reversed? It will not be without struggle. Who is up for the struggle? I fear that we are not up for it.

Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa, iwi radio, Maori television, Maori health provision, Maori fisheries, the return of lands, Treaty settlements, corporate iwi, and much more besides; all of that was gained through struggle. It was gained through the activism of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and it did not come lightly. It was gained on the streets and in the courts. Many were arrested, some imprisoned for their activism. Many more put their own futures on the line. That activism built to such a crescendo that governments had to concede lest their imaginary “we are one people” pleasant and harmonious New Zealand society collapsed around them. Fear drove them to seek to co-opt us rather than to continue to ignore, suppress or even oppress.

They masked those political concessions as altruism and goodwill and bought us off. It was good politics. They bought our compliance and over time co-opted us to their neo-liberal agenda. They seem to have convinced us that the limited wealth they have transferred into a few Maori hands will eventually trickle down to the many. It hasn’t and it won’t.

It was the activists who made all of the gains possible and forced open the doors. Both Maori activists and conservative Maori walked through those doors and created the many initiatives, projects, programmes and organisations of the “Maori Renaissance”. Then in a short timeframe the activists were pushed aside and the conservatives took over governance and management of almost all of the new Maori development sector. But the original kaupapa of raising living conditions, reversing all of the negative social and economic indicators, and creating a measure of prosperity for all Maori had not been achieved. We were blinded by limited concessions and successes after decades of struggle.

And we gave up the struggle. We focused on the money, or fish, and how we would share it out, or not. The decade long battle over the capture and allocation of fishing assets illustrates just how we became totally diverted from the original kaupapa. We squabbled over the gold cast across our pathway. In fisheries and in other settlements we spent all our time and energy staking our claims at the Waitangi Tribunal, and afterwards turning ourselves into mandated recipients of the limited gains. It became the Grand Diversion. The government of the day even put a price on it – one billion dollars. But what of its value?

We have not achieved the aims of the long struggle but we seem to have convinced ourselves that we have. The present generation, the Maori elites who have taken over governance and management in the Maori development sector, are interested only in the benefits they accrue from the struggle of the previous generation. They seem to have convinced themselves that their management of those billions of dollars’ worth of communal Maori assets will do the job for all Maori; that the struggle is over. They have been co-opted to the neo-liberal agenda of the power elite. Some of them are delusional in their aspiration to become part of that power elite.

Not all of them of course. In my own many hapu from Heretaunga to Wairarapa and Te Tau Ihu dedicated people have laboured away for decades on behalf of all of us and we are now starting to gain mostly monetary settlements for past injustices. They are good people working on behalf of the hapu. It is no reflection on them or their mahi but the gains are really just a pittance.

The struggle is not over. Whilst a few benefit from those limited gains the people are still the disenfranchised and disinherited; the discarded of the neo-liberal agenda. Yet we have given up the struggle. And I don’t see a new generation of activists waiting in the wings. At this time the main political cause is the intent of the Maori elites to reframe Maori land legislation in the hope of creating more wealth in the Maori development sector. Whether or not it is justified, the fear of the many is that through new land legislation the Maori elites will disinherit their own; the already disenfranchised and disinherited.

We have lost our way.

In part however that was the result of faulty conceptualisation and design in the initiatives and programmes that theoretically aimed to reduce the social and economic disparities between Maori and Pakeha.

One of the main aims of the early activism was the revival of cultural identity and language. That resulted in successful Te Reo Maori educational and broadcasting initiatives but not a longer term widespread use of Te Reo and not, as many of its promoters thought, in the general lifting of Maori aspirations leading to a reversal of negative social and economic statistics. As a cultural identity initiative it has been moderately successful. It has not however led to overall social and economic success.

Hui Taumata 1984 (Maori Economic Summit) resulted in a primary focus in the Maori development sphere on economic development. However “economic development” then became narrowly defined as Maori business development rather than overall improvement of the economic status of all Maori. It shared with the neo-liberal agenda the belief and rhetoric of the now discredited “trickle down” theory. That narrow focus has resulted in a growing Maori business sector within a new Maori development sector of the New Zealand economy but not in any appreciable improvement in the social and economic status of Maori in general. It also resulted in the notion of the mythical “Maori Economy” and in the belief that the “Maori Economy” would trickle down and deliver for all Maori.

The Maori Party’s later “Whanau Ora” social development programme is aimed as its name suggests at working with individual whanau in need and not at dramatically changing the total social and economic environment in which those whanau struggle for survival. As I wrote in “Draining the Swamp” it aims to rescue a few whanau from the swamp rather than to drain the swamp. Within its narrow terms of reference “Whanau Ora” is not doomed to failure; neither will it be successful in achieving the aspirations of its programme designers.

Whether by design or happenstance or both we have lost our way.

Not entirely of course. The Mana Party tried to reengage in the struggle but a combination of tired old rhetoric from a collection of tired old minds, incredibly lousy strategy and poor leadership all but wiped them out at the last elections.

In a parallel domain, in academia, we have also lost much of the intellectual impetus behind Maori development policy and practice. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s most Maori academics were actively involved in the struggle, some at the forefront of protest and demonstration. Indeed much of the activism was launched from within the universities with students and the newly graduated at the barricades. Almost all were politically engaged in challenging the status quo. Senior Maori scholars including Ranginui Walker, Patu Hohepa, Ngapare Hopa, Robert Mahuta, Tipene O’Regan, Hirini Mead, Api Mahuika, Katerina Mataira, Whatarangi Winiata and others provided intellectual frameworks and direction and were themselves actively involved.

The next generation of scholars were equally engaged and led by Graham and Linda Smith developed and entrenched a Maori specific domain within the universities across a number of disciplines, notably in education, perhaps the most important site of struggle within and beyond the university. Their “Kaupapa Maori” intellectual framework now informs most Maori specific scholarship. Wally Penetito also led the way in Maori education. Mason Durie developed intellectual frameworks across a number of areas notably in Maori health and Maori education. There are many others.

The next generation of Maori academics seems to be disengaged from the political process which is the only avenue to serious reduction of the poverty and inequality that afflict too many of our people. There are some who are active in the Maori Party but the Maori Party, despite its good intentions, serves only to legitimise the neoliberal agenda of the power elite in relation to Maori issues. The Maori Party is our only Maori party and it should lead the political struggle. But it expends its considerable Maori Development budget on standing still.

That $244 million serves mainly to buy its political support for another year. It maintains the status quo and doesn’t move us forward in any appreciable way.

The 2015 budget allocation for Vote Maori Development was about $244 million. $54 million of that was for the Whanau Ora programme, $82 million for the promotion of language and culture and $33 million to pay for the Maori development bureaucracy leaving about $75 million spread across a range of social and economic programmes. That and similar budget allocations throughout the seven years of the Maori Party’s alliance with the National Party has done little if anything to reduce Maori poverty and the unequal place of Maori in New Zealand society.

One would expect those academics involved in the Maori Party to develop new intellectual frameworks and strategies; to try something different. However it seems that the Maori Party is tied to the tired old policies and programmes that haven’t delivered and has no new ideas despite the evidence that new ideas are desperately needed. Not just new versions of old programmes.

“Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi”

The Maori Party needs to seriously engage with academia and with the creatives. It needs to pull in some intellectual and creative heft and to reinvent itself.

There is also some evidence that Maori academics are increasingly disengaged not only from politics but also from their Maori communities. Some have become what Graham Smith has called “privatised academics”, engaged in scholarship for their own benefit rather than the benefit of Maori communities and Maori in general. Some co-opt the “struggle” to enhance their own mana. They talk about the wellbeing of the people but don’t walk the talk.

Has academia abdicated its Maori development leadership role? Perhaps the unintended consequence of success in creating a Maori specific space in the universities has been an increasingly inward focus by Maori academia.

There are of course many academics working in their own tribal communities. However most Maori are urbanised and detribalised. Who is advocating for them at a pan tribal and national level?

Perhaps a shift in the leadership of Maori development away from its intellectual platform in the universities and whare wananga towards the Maori business sector, corporate iwi and “iwi leaders”, towards bureaucracy and conservative governance and management, was causal in narrowing the intellectual capacity, the focus and direction of Maori development, and ultimately in sending us in the wrong direction.

It may be that the universities and whare wananga need to reset the compass and to reclaim Maori development leadership from “corporate iwi” and “iwi leaders” who are by definition motivated by a form of self-interest, albeit in the name of “iwi”. We are in need of a much broader and deeper perspective, a perspective that acknowledges modern realities rather than neo-tribal nostalgia.

Maori academia would begin by becoming deeply reengaged in the political process.

All of this is indicative of a failure of strategy, a failure to keep our gaze on the far horizon, becoming focused instead on near term gains. The great samurai strategist Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) in “The Book of Five Rings” put it this way:

    “The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze “Perception and Sight”. Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things”.

It is the role of the intellectual and the strategist to promote perception, to maintain our gaze on the far horizon, to keep the distant things close. We need a new generation of Maori public intellectuals, learned across a range of disciplines in both humanities and sciences, advocating for all Maori. But they need to bring new ideas into the public domain. The old ones have been around far too long.

In his 1967 essay “A Call to Celebration” (published in “Celebration of Awareness: A Call for Institutional Revolution”, Marion Boyars, London, 1971) the late Ivan Illich expressed this hope for the future of mankind:

    “I and many others, known and unknown to me, call upon you:

    • to celebrate our joint power to provide all human beings with the food, clothing, shelter they need to delight in living;
    • to discover, together with us what we must do to use mankind’s power to create the humanity, the dignity, and the joyfulness of each one of us”.

And this:

    “We are challenged to break the obsolete social and economic systems which divide our world between the overprivileged and the underprivileged. All of us whether government leader or protester, businessman or worker, professor or student share a common guilt. We have failed to discover how the necessary changes in our ideals and social structures can be made. Each of us therefore through our ineffectiveness and our lack of responsible awareness, causes the suffering around the world”.

    “The call is to live the future. Let us join together joyfully to celebrate our awareness that we can make our life today the shape of tomorrow’s future”.

Ivan Illich was one of the main intellectual influences in the work of Professor Ranginui Walker. Ranginui was and is the preeminent analyst of our own need for institutional revolution. His 1990 book “Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou” was subtitled “Struggle Without End“. In it Ranginui related the story of the long struggle from the very beginning up to 1990. He needs to be read again to remind ourselves of just what we were struggling for. In the Introduction he wrote:

    “As portended by the freedom fighters at Orakau that the struggle against an unjust social order would go on forever, the urban Maori have taken up where their forbears left off. This book is about the endless struggle of the Maori for social justice, equality and self-determination, whereby two people can live as coequals in the post-colonial era of the new nation state in the twenty-first century”.

Have we just taken a break or have we brought the struggle to a premature end?

Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou

The call then is for each of us personally, in our search for direction, policy and action that benefits all Maori, to admit our common guilt in wilfully falling short of the aims of the so called Maori Renaissance; in wilfully being distracted by the glint of gold. And to commit again to the struggle to challenge the status quo and to break the political, social and economic paradigm that consigns so many of our people to the serried ranks of the disenfranchised and disinherited.

Are we up for it?

Next Essay

He Tangata: Maori Policy, Economics and Moral Philosophy – The Moral Challenge to the Status Quo and to Neo-liberal Theology

Related Essays

Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture
The Evolution of Pakeha Culture
The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy
The Mythology of the Whanau-Hapu-Iwi Construct
The Origins of Corporate Iwi
The Maori Economy – A Fanciful Notion
The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur
The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited
Te Ture Whenua Maori Review – Who Benefits? 
Perspectives of Time, Small Prophecy & Maori Policy
Draining the Swamp – Some Fundamentals for Maori Policy Makers

Whose side are we on in Iraq?

All you need to know about the chaos in the Middle East.

So. Whose side are we on in Iraq?

Well may you ask.

Let’s see. There’s Iraq (the Shi’a part) and we’re training the Iraqi army to fight ISIS which is sort of made up of other Iraqis (the Sunni part). Iran is also training and supplying the Iraqis (the Shi’a ones) so I suppose we’re on their side too. Except that Iran is supposed to be a rogue state and the declared enemy of two of America’s best friends, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

And President Obama has recently done a deal with Iran in spite of demands from the American Extreme Right for a war on Iran as well. So maybe Iran is now a friend.

We’re definitely on the side of the Shi’a part of Iraq and maybe some of their friends.

Syria, the bit still controlled by Bashar al Assad is the enemy too, except that our new friend Iran supports him because his part is the Shi’a part. There are other bits of Syria that we think are our friends but we don’t know who they are, and other bits that we think are our enemies but we don’t really know who they are either. ISIS is also in Syria and they’re definitely our enemy.

ISIS is really now a country of its own and is definitely our enemy until it isn’t, like when sometime in the future we need them to be our friends.

But they behead people!

Well so do our sheep eating Saudi friends. Maybe if we sold sheep to ISIS they’d be our friends too.

We wouldn’t do that would we?

Why not. Friendship has nothing to do with human rights. Trade trumps human rights every time.

Now in the north there’s Turkey and that’s a friend except that we don’t know which side Turkey is really on, except its own side. So we could be on Turkey’s side too.

And the Kurds. We’re on their side. But Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and ISIS are all against them.

From Lebanon there is Hezbollah who are Shi’a supporting Bashar al Assad and are themselves supported by Iran. They’re sworn enemies of Israel so they are probably our enemies too.

The Saudis are on their own side, on our side, and probably on the side of some of the Sunnis involved in the chaos, including maybe ISIS. They’re definitely the sworn enemy of all the Shi’a. And they’re having their own little war with some Shi’a in Yemen. They just beheaded a Shi’a cleric and have set the place alight. Well their embassy in Tehran for starters.

Russia is in there too supporting Bashar al Assad so it might be an enemy except that none of us is game enough to say so except for Turkey when they shot down a Russian fighter plane.

Jordon is keeping its head down.

Israel is studiously keeping out of it (well maybe, and maybe not, you never can tell what they’re up to). For the moment they’re mainly just killing Palestinians and stealing their lands.

Egypt has kept out of it and has a peace treaty with Israel. The basis of that treaty might be a promise by Israel to nuke Egypt back into the dark ages if it tries to invade Israel again.

Libya fell apart after its own version of an Arab Spring and doesn’t look a threat to anyone for the moment.

So, whose side are we on?

That’s easy. America.

But, whose side is America on?


Let’s ask some different questions.

Why did America invade Iraq in 2003 and cause all of this chaos?

Good question. It definitely wasn’t for the reasons they gave at the time.

Well who benefits from all of this chaos, from the degradation and weakening of all of these countries?

Another good question.

Well then, who benefits from the fragmentation of all of Israel’s neighbours? Lebanon, Syria and Iraq?

Ah. I see where you’re going. Israel I suppose.

So who propelled America into Iraq in 2003 causing all of this fragmentation?

Well it wasn’t George W. Bush. It was Vice President Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the neo conservatives who drove that policy agenda. The Neo-cons. They wanted to invade Iran next.

Neo-cons? Who are they?

Ah. Good question. They’re ardent and committed American Zionists, all of them.

So whose side are we on?


And whose side is America on?

Um. Israel?

And who is New Zealand’s leading politician of Jewish descent?

Um. Prime Minister John Key?

Book Review: Parekura Horomia ‘Kia Ora Chief’

Author Wira Gardiner. Published 2014 by Huia Publishers, Wellington with the assistance of the Maori Purposes Fund Board. ISBN 978-1-77550-162-6.
Reviewed by Ross Himona

I almost reviewed this book as soon as it was released but given what I have to say I thought I’d wait a respectful period.

But first a declaration of interest. Wira Gardiner the author has been a friend for longer than we both care to remember; since 1963. He has also quoted me in the concluding chapter. Notwithstanding our long and close friendship we have no problem whatsoever about disagreeing with each other’s views, so I will not hold back on the criticism if I feel the need to do so.

I suppose the one comment that most describes Parekura Horomia is that made by Hekia Parata in her foreword, “He was a good man …”.

He was inarticulate in English and Maori but he communicated, he was way overweight and didn’t look after his health, he neglected his family in pursuit of whatever it was he was pursuing, he was a flawed man but he was a good man. I can agree with that despite the fact that I was often perplexed in my dealings with him.

But I too was one of the many thousands he addressed as “Chief” and was disarmed by it even though I knew he was blowing smoke, if you know what I mean.

This book describes all of that. But mostly it is a tribute to Parekura by the many whanaunga, friends and colleagues whose memories of him make up the bulk of the book. At the launch of “Kia Ora Chief’ at Parliament House in 2014 I spoke to Brian Morris, co-owner of Huia Publishers. He told me that they had to edit well over 100 pages from the first draft of the book because the recollections of Parekura were so repetitive. So many people remembered the same stories about Parekura.

Perhaps that was partly because Parekura himself told the same stories about himself over and over again. How many of us remember the story of the school bus for Pakeha kids that passed by the Maori kids walking to school. Perhaps it was also because he did the same things for so many people over and over again.

What comes out of the book is that Parekura compartmentalised his own life so that you only knew what he wanted you to know, and what he wanted you to know depended on what part of his life you inhabited. He was in effect constructing his own heavily edited story as he lived his life and that is the story he left in the memories of others. It is the story that Wira Gardiner has had to recover from those memories, for Parekura left no written record of his story. There is nothing to contradict the story he constructed; no letters, notebooks, diaries or papers. He was a paperless man. And a very private man despite his huge public profile.

And therein lies the mystery. What was it that Parekura Horomia didn’t leave to be told. What did he tell the trusted others that they are not telling. If there is a weakness in this book that is it. Although presented by the publishers as biography it is memoir rather than biography, albeit a well written memoir. There remains yet an untold story. The whole story and perhaps the real story. I shall explore that theme later.

There can be no doubting however the achievement of the uneducated and inarticulate country boy and family man from Mangatuna who became a successful senior public servant, Minister of the Crown, trusted confidante of a Prime Minister, and much loved champion of the ordinary people of Aotearoa New Zealand. The turnout to his tangihanga, described in the second chapter “Death of a Rangatira”, was testimony to that achievement. Close to 12,000 people came to Hauiti Marae to farewell him.

The book had its genesis in 2006 when Labour Party Parekura and his friend National Party Wira Gardiner discussed the idea of a book about his life that Wira would write in time for the 2008 elections. Parekura never got around to providing any material, written or recorded, and it didn’t get done. At his tangihanga Wira promised Parekura’s sons that he would write it and he kept his promise.

It chronicles all of the phases of Parekura’s life from his childhood and schooling at Mangatuna, through his early working days as a printers apprentice, fencer and shearer, to working with and then for the Department of Labour for twenty years, and then as a member of Parliament for over thirteen years. Gardiner describes those phases as his three whanau groups, the first being his whakapapa whanau in the broadest sense (family and tribal), the second the Department of Labour and the third the Labour Party.

Some parts of his life are shown in greater detail than others, probably reflecting the quantity and quality of interviews. There are chapters on his life at Dannevirke, on his love of rugby, and a whole chapter on his family’s close relationship with an immigrant Scottish family he met at Dannevirke. As might be expected about 60% of the book is about his time in the Department of Labour and as an MP, including chapters on the two controversies during his time as Minister of Maori Affairs; Maori broadcasting and the seabed and foreshore debate. Both were trying times for Parekura and are described in detail.

What was not covered was the other major event that happened on his watch, the 2007 Police paramilitary assault on Ruatoki and on the house of Parekura’s mate Taame Iti at Taneatua. Those so-called “raids” were sanctioned by Helen Clark and one would have thought that she might have sought the advice of her trusted principal Maori advisor Parekura Horomia. We are none the wiser about whether or not he had any part in that fateful decision and its aftermath.

The book would not be complete without the chapter “A Chronic Asthmatic with an Enlarged Heart” about his many health problems and his inability or unwillingness to address those problems.

The strength of the book lies in the hundreds of anecdotes told about Parekura, many of them quite delightful and often amusing, skilfully woven into a collective memoir. It seems that everyone who knew him had a story to tell about him, including myself (pp 431-2). The people recalled his generosity and his ability to reach out and communicate with ordinary people, as well as with those in positions of influence. They spoke of his loyalty and love for his people, and much more. He was by common consensus a good man.

But I go back to the mystery. Who was this man, really?

He left no personal paper trail but he did leave an enormous paper trail in the Department of Labour and in the departments he led as minister. In the Department of Labour he was responsible for tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and other payments to communities up and down New Zealand. He probably didn’t put pen to paper except to sign off his decisions but that paper trail will still be there; a complete record of his grant giving, and a complete analysis of that might be quite revealing. Interviews with the recipients of those grants might also be revealing. I know from personal experience that as a minister he often gave off-the-cuff koha to various causes leaving his departmental staff scrambling to find the money from somewhere. The record of that koha giving might be quite interesting.

Who was this man, really? This man who spent the whole of his public life criss-crossing the country getting to every hui and gathering he possibly could, hardly pausing for breath or so it seemed to many of us who ran into him almost everywhere we went, to be greeted by his “Kia ora Chief”.

What caused him to be generous with his own money to the point that his own family often came second? What drove him to run so hard that for decades his family saw far less of him than his staff, colleagues, constituents and the public at large? Politicians’ families are notoriously neglected but Parekura seemed to run harder than all of them. What drove him to run so hard, to totally neglect his health and to drive himself into an early grave? What was he running from?

We know that he was dedicated to serving the ordinary people but there was something else. He was chasing something. He was seeking something and it drove him. Was it the age old cultural pursuit of mana. Was it that simple, or something much deeper. From the outside looking on it seemed that the man was driven by something deep within. What was it?

In this book we didn’t learn much at all about the private Parekura Horomia. We know that he was a complex and complicated man but after reading the book we have still not delved into the depths of his character. He remains a mystery. There are no doubt those who knew him well and who are not telling; not many but some. They are probably not his family. They are probably the few very close and trusted people who worked with him over the years and remained totally loyal; people like Meka Whaitiri who served him faithfully for many years and after his death replaced him as the MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti.

There are others I know who have more to tell about their encounters with him, both personal and professional, who have decided to honour the man and to remain silent.

They will probably never share the real Parekura Horomia with us. This book then is all we shall know. It faithfully records the Parekura Horomia he and his loyal following wanted us to know. The rest has gone with him to the grave. The story he has left is nevertheless an inspiring story of how a Maori boy from the country overcame almost insurmountable odds to reach one of the highest offices in the land and how he came to be universally loved.

I enjoyed his story.

Operation 8: The Truth, the Whole Truth & Nothing but the Truth?

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Yeah right!

A blanket has been thrown over the process by which Cabinet authorised the anti-terrorism raids on 15th October 2007. This post and previous posts lift a corner of that blanket and the whole high level process doesn’t pass the smell test.

Although there is some visible evidence of the intelligence process at the working level (in affidavits, warrants, indictments and police evidence provided to the lawyers of the accused) there is no visibility or transparency above that. The intelligence process intimately involved the decision-makers from the analyst Detective Sergeant Pascoe’s immediate superior Detective Inspector Good, to Assistant Commissioner White, to Deputy Commissioner Pope, Commissioner Broad, to the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC), and to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

We know that the SIS at least knew of the ongoing operation. We do not know if the SIS and GCSB were actively involved in Operation 8. It is reasonable to assume that the minister in charge of the SIS, Prime Minister Helen Clark, would have known in advance about the operation even if Annette King then Minister of Police, by her own testimony, did not know until the night before.

We know from public statements after the event that Commissioner Broad and the Prime Minister were both involved in the decision-making that launched the Operation 8 raids on 15th October 2007. What is not transparent is the advice presumably based on intelligence product that informed those decisions. What is also not transparent is the substance of those decisions.

Without that information there can be no full analysis of the professionalism and competence of the intelligence process. Operation 8 was not just a failure of intelligence at the working level but a failure of intelligence all the way up the chain of command and in the Cabinet itself. Intelligence failure at that high level level is not uncommon. Indeed in the world of Intelligence it is the most common level of failure.

This series has analysed in some detail the intelligence failure at the working level. The failures at the Police command level, at the senior officials and advisors level (ODESC) and at the political level remain hidden under the blanket; covered up.

The original intent of the investigators, presumably sanctioned and approved by the chain of command and Cabinet, was to prosecute under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. That was disallowed by the Solicitor General. Then the charges changed.

  • What was it that the legal advisors, the chain of command, ODESC and Cabinet believed at the time that convinced them to mount a full scale anti-terrorism operation?
  • Or was the use of the Suppression of Terrorism Act just an excuse to employ the wider surveillance powers allowed under that act?
  • And were they all just hoping that the seizure of computers around the country would provide sufficient evidence to allow them to proceed and use evidence secured under the Suppression of Terrorism Act?
  • If so, was the use of the Suppression of Terrorism Act to obtain the warrants and to mount a full scale anti-terrrorism operation totally unlawful like so much of the operation?

Given the lack of transparency of that higher level of decision-making it may only be discovered through a formal inquiry process by subpoena of witnesses, instructions and written orders, reports, assessments and minutes. And if that were to happen how might that evidence reflect on the outcome of the trial of the Urewera Four accused?

  • What was the chain of command and what were they telling each other?
  • Who did Detective Inspector Good and Detective Sergeant Pascoe report to? What did they report? Is there a written record of that report? Who reviewed and evaluated their analysis? Is there a written record of that review and evaluation?
  • What were Detective Inspector Good’s and Detective Sergeant Pascoe’s orders from their immediate superior? Were they written orders? Or were they just freewheeling on their own without formal intelligence management oversight? The scapegoat question I fear.
  • What was the complete chain of command from Detective Sergeant Pascoe to Commissioner Broad? What advice was given to Commissioner Broad and by whom? Is there a written record of that advice?
  • Was legal advice sought and given prior to the October 15th armed paramilitary anti-terrorist operation? Who gave the advice? Was it the Solicitor General? Was it prosecutor Ross Burns? Was it written advice?
  • Was Deputy Commissioner Pope involved in the decision to launch an anti-terrorism operation? What was his exact involvement?
  • What advice if any did Commissioner Broad give to the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC)? Who was present at that meeting? Were the professional security and intelligence agencies present? Did they offer their professional assistance? Is it true that Commissioner Broad declined such assistance? Are there minutes of that meeting?
  • What advice if any did ODESC give to Commissioner Broad? Is there a record of that advice? If not, why not?
  • What advice if any did ODESC give to the Prime Minister and Cabinet? Is there a record of that advice? If not, why not?
  • Did the NZ Police ever call upon the superior intelligence gathering and assessment skill and experience of the dedicated security and intelligence agencies? If not why not? Was SIS or GCSB involved?
  • When did Commissioner Broad meet with the Prime Minister and Cabinet? Who was present at that meeting? What advice did he give to Cabinet?  Was it written or verbal or both? Are there minutes of that meeting, including authorisation to proceed with a full-scale anti-terrorism operation?
  • Is it true that Commissioner Broad was asked several times at that Cabinet meeting to confirm that there was a plot to overthrow government, and did he so confirm? We have this one public account only.
  • What orders were given to the operational units that carried out the Operation 8 paramilitary operation? Were they written or verbal orders or both?
  • What reports were submitted after the paramilitary operation? Are they written reports?
  • Was the Solicitor General formally asked to authorise prosecution under the Suppression of Terrorism Act by written request? Did he write a formal rejection of the request stating his full reasons for that decision? Apart from those he publicly stated?
  • Why were the contracts of Commissioner Broad and Deputy Commissioner Pope not renewed? Was it because new brooms were needed to bring in a new culture in the police, as was publicly stated? Or was it really because of incomptence and because they had misled Cabinet in seeking authorisation for the armed anti-terrorism paramilitary operation?
  • Is the real reason for the non-renewal of their contracts part of a cover up?

The final questions are raised in the wake of the GCSB scandal and cover up legislation, and the revelations about the extent of the 5-Eyes global population level electronic surveillance.

  • Was Operation 8 initiated as a result of GCSB eavesdropping on the nation’s communications?
  • If so, was the police evidential trail manufactured in the process known in law enforcement as “parallel construction” to disguise the actual trail of evidence leading from GCSB? This would be another instance of unlawful behaviour by the police.
  • Were GCSB and SIS involved in Operation 8 surveillance?
  • Were GCSB and SIS involved in the analysis of information including data mining, traffic analysis and social network analysis?
  • If GCSB was involved was it at the request of NZ Police and what was the lawful (or unlawful) basis of that request?

In a post on 23 October 2013 Jeremy Bioletti, the trial lawyer for Rangi Kemara, infers that these are very important questions:

“The issue of possible GCSB surveillance in operation 8 is important. Why? Because if there was illegality involved it may have tipped the balance in the Supreme Court and resulted in the exclusion of the evidence which allowed the Urewera Four to be put on trial and convicted for the firearms offences and subsequently imprisoned. I am certain that there was involvement because from memory there were personnel involved in the police operation which counsel were not allowed to ask questions about”. 

The incompetence and ineptitude of the intelligence operation, and the evidential  inconsistencies that would have been revealed by a much more thorough analysis of that process may also have tipped the balance in the Supreme Court and resulted in the exclusion of the evidence which allowed the Urewera Four to be put on trial and convicted and sentenced.

I am saying that none of the Operation 8 evidence should have survived beyond the Supreme Court hearing in May 2011, and the Supreme Court ruling a few months later in September, and that had justice been done the Urewera Four would not have gone to trial.

The only way to fully assess the Operation 8 intelligence management and analysis process is to discover all or most of the above information, through a formal inquiry. That formal inquiry is also required to discover which police officers breached their constables’ oath and broke the law in using unlawful means to acquire information, and which commissioned officers also breached the terms of their commissioning by the Queen of New Zealand. These are serious legal and ethical issues. The rule of law in a democratic society ought to apply equally to every citizen and the NZ Police must be seen to scrupuloulsy uphold the rule of law.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from the suppression of all that information and the refusal of both the Labour and National Parties to support an inquiry is that there is a cover up and that what is being covered up is political and bureaucratic incompetence and embarrassment, and a degree of illegality.

Smelly indeed.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Four Year Battle in the Courts

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

On 15th October 2007 seventeen were arrested, than another two, then another one. Twenty in all. First it was to be terrorism and arms charges, then just arms charges, then the arms charges plus a criminal group charge against some of them. Back and forth it went in the courts until on 2nd September 2011 the Supreme Court disallowed vital evidence against all but four. On 6th December 2011 the Police dropped all charges against everyone but those four. The “Urewera Four” went to trial in February 2012. It all happened mostly suppressed and out of the public eye. This is the story of those four years.

The trial of the Urewera Four will be covered in the next post.

The Auckland Special Intelligence Group of the NZ Police began gathering information about Jamie Lockett and his alleged terrorist leanings in May 2006. Their attention shifted to Taame Iti and his wananga in the Urewera in September 2006. The Police paramilitary operation, known as the Urewera Raids, went down on 15th October 2007.

That was just the beginning. A legal battle was fought in the District Courts, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court for more than another four years before four of the original twenty accused finally went to trial in February 2012. Two of the four received prison sentences and two received home detention. The whole thing lasted for nearly six years not including the time the “Urewera Four” spent serving out their sentences.

In this post I detail and explain that battle through the courts. I followed it closely as it happened. The public was not able to do that because most of the court hearings and judgements were suppressed.

Throughout this time there were bail hearings and bail variation hearings concerning the twenty original accused, too numerous to follow, and I mention just a few of them. There were quite a few more court hearings than the ones I describe as well. These are the significant ones.

This is how it unfolded.

15th October 2007

The day of the “raids” and the day 17 people were arrested and detained.

20th October 2007 – Sunday Star Times

Just five days after the arrests and in the midst of much media speculation this article appeared in the Sunday News. In itself it was not part of the legal process, which is the subject of this post. However it shows how the Police were attempting to drive public perceptions and opinion, which is an abuse of justice and legal process.

The source for this sensationalised and completely false interpretation of the information collected by the Police could only have been someone closely connected to the operation. I am 98% sure that I know the identity of the source.

A highly-placed source said police launched last week’s anti-terror raids after recording secret video footage of splinter groups carrying out combined military-style training and talking of “wreaking havoc” throughout New Zealand in imminent attacks.

“If this got off the ground, it would have been a multi-pronged campaign launched simultaneously against a number of individuals and targets. It would have been crippling,?” the source revealed.

“But it is the information provided by Sunday News’ source within the operation which is most shocking.

 “Each different splinter group was training under the one umbrella and they were going to carry out attacks on targets and infrastructure,” said our source.

“You would have had Tuhoe carrying out attacks on their selected targets, animal rights groups targeting their lot and the so-called `peace freaks’ carrying out their acts.

“There were a number of different groups at the table. They were going to wreak havoc according to their own agendas. They were going after a broad spectrum and broad range of targets.

“There were prominent Maori who they’d call Uncle Toms including heads of government departments and those who’d used the system to get ahead.”

The police source scoffed at claims the raids, by about 300 officers, were racially motivated.

“Half those arrested are Pakeha,” he said.

Our source said activist groups’ terror-attack plans were firmly in place.

“They were pretty well advanced in what they were planning to do,” he said.

“They were not of the sophistication of the IRA or Bader Meinhoff (German Red Army) but they were technologically more aware than the likes of the terrorists in Rhodesia Zebra and Zanu.”

Police footage of the groups training in the backblocks of the Bay of Plenty, going through military-style manoeuvring, showed their deadly intent.

“The training is the stuff soldiers spend weeks of build-up on before they use live rounds,” he said. “There is also footage of the group patrolling in military formation through the bush, wearing camouflage and balaclavas.

“There is no mistaking what they were doing.”

That was the extreme version of the Police terrorism narrative.

6th November 2007

Rangi Kemara and Tuhoe Lambert fail in their attempt in the Court of Appeal to have name suppression after earlier attempts in the District and High Courts.

8th November 2007

The Solicitor General declined to allow prosecutions to proceed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002.

9th November 2007

Taame Iti released on bail. Other accused also bailed shortly after.

14th November 2007

The Police affidavit seeking warrants for the 15th October operation was leaked to the media. This could only have come from the Police or someone close to the Police.

27th November 2007

The US Embassy in Wellington sent a cable to Washington that included this:

“New Zealand Police have told post that they expect those charged to escape incarceration and likely to pay only a fine”.

The Police knew, even at that early stage and months before the defence lawyers began to challenge the legality of the operation and despite what they were saying in the media, that their case was built on shaky ground. They had needed to use the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002 to legalise their otherwise illegal surveillance.

4th December 2007

The accused were remanded on bail until March 2008. The bail conditions were very restrictive and included non-association orders and orders to prevent travel to Ruatoki.

20th December 2007

Solicitor General advises a defence lawyer of his intent to bring charges of contempt against Fairfax Media for publishing leaked Police affidavit.

8th February 2008

An application made to the High Court for suppression of photos of two defendants. Not successful.

10th April 2008

Contempt charges laid against Fairfax Media. Not successful.

17th April 2008

Two more arrests in relation to attendance at wananga.

May 2008

Taame Iti granted permission by High Court to travel to Europe to perform in “Tempest” production, after he had been denied by District Court. This was an indication that the High Court perception of the seriousness of the charges was changing.

14th August 2008

Another arrest. Total now 20. Police still pursuing their original narrative despite knowing that it was unravelling.

22nd August 2008

High Court ordered Police to hand over to the defence all of the intercept warrants for the operation. Police fought very hard not to hand them over, for the warrants were later shown to be illegal.

4th September 2008

Depositions hearings for 18 of the accused in the High Court. Hearings lasted for over a month. All were charged with multiple offences under the Arms Act.

17th September 2008

Prosecution indicates new charges of participation in a criminal group likely.

3rd October 2008

Last submissions made in depositions hearing.

17th October 2008

After two weeks deliberation High Court delivers decisions from depositions hearing. 17 of the accused to face trial on arms charges. Some of the charges were disallowed but most allowed. Accused remanded until “callover” on 17th February 2009.

30th October 2008

Prosecution announces that 5 of the accused would be charged with participation in a criminal group (Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert, Rangi Kemara, Urs Signer & Emily Bailey). The depositions hearing had showed up defects in the prosecution case.

This charge was the beginning of the legal strategy to ensure that at least those five would eventually face trial. In September 2011 the Supreme Court declared much of the evidence inadmissible but allowed it to be produced in support of the criminal group charge against the remaining four accused, the “Urewera Four”. That was the express purpose of the criminal group charge; a legal manoeuvre.

The Police and prosecution had known that their case was not on solid ground since the terrorism charges were disallowed in November 2007. They indicated as much to the US Embassy in that month.

All 18 of the accused were still charged under the Arms Act.

15th May 2009

Another bail hearing at which restrictions were relaxed and the accused was required to report to Police just three times a year. This decision indicated that the courts no longer subscribed to the extreme claims of the Police narrative.

June 2009

Applications drawn up by defence lawyers to be filed at the High Court in August to have case thrown out.

June 2009

Rodney Harrison QC prepares case challenging the legality of the Operation 8 warrants.

9th September 2009

High Court declares a number of the warrants illegal and evidence obtained under those warrants inadmissible. Some warrants and evidence allowed to stand. This was a defining moment in the defence case.

During this hearing the Police admitted that they knew that the warrants were not lawful, yet proceeded anyway.

16th September 2009

Harrison QC makes new submission to High Court challenging remaining warrants and evidence.

19th October 2009

Applications made in High Court for a stay of proceedings. Not successful.

27th October 2009

Further stay applications to High Court, Not successful.

28th October 2009

Harrison QC indicates he will take his application to rule evidence inadmissible as far as Supreme Court if necessary.

29th and 30th October 2009

High Court hearings continue.

14th December 2009

Prosecution application to High Court to allow certain evidence.

15th December 2009

High Court ruling on additional challenge to warrants by Harrison QC. Not allowed.

18th December 2009

Another bail rollover hearing.

22nd December 2009

Prosecution’s application to High Court to readmit inadmissible evidence refused.

28th May 2010

Harrison QC submits application to Court of Appeal.

9th June 2010

Court of Appeal hearing re warrants and inadmissible evidence. Two day hearing. Decision reserved.

24th June 2010

Court of Appeal disallows Harrison QC’s application re admissibility of evidence.

7th January 2011

Application to Court of Appeal to overturn High Court ruling (after prosecution application) that trial to be by judge alone.

28th March 2011

An appeal to Supreme Court re admissibility of evidence allowed.

April 2011

Court of Appeal confirm trial by judge alone.

6th May 2011

Supreme Court hearing into admissibility of evidence. Three day hearing.

8th July 2011

Defendant Tuhoe Lambert dies.

22nd August 2011

A hearing by the Supreme Court re judge alone trial delayed until 14th September 2011.

2nd September 2011

Supreme Court rules on evidence. Evidence ruled inadmissable for all accused except the remaining four on the criminal group charge. This was the decision that the prosecution expected and had prepared for by bringing the criminal group charge, originally against five of the accused.

6th September 2011

Prosecution drops charges against all (13) except the four on criminal group charge.

12th and 13th September 2011

Prosecution application to High Court to have suppressed evidence, including the leaked affidavit, released to the media. Affidavit suppressed but video evidence released. Partial lifting of suppression orders.

15th September 2011

Amended indictment against “Urewera Four” presented in High Court.

September 2011

At about the same time as all of this activity the Police and prosecution dropped their efforts to have a trial by judge alone and agreed to trial by jury.

24th November 2011

Further applications by defence lawyers to High Court to stay proceedings denied.

February 2012

Trial of “Urewera Four” proceeds.

This is not a complete record of court hearings. I have noted several attempts by defence lawyers to have proceedings stayed and the cases thrown out. There were many more throughout the four year period, all of them unsuccessful. There were also other court hearings initiated by the prosecution as the two sides battled over evidence and procedure.

I have listed the main hearings and legal manoeuvres to demonstrate the intensity of the legal battle. Most of the proceedings and decisions were suppressed at the time and this legal battle was fought out of the public eye.

The trial of the “Urewera Four” will be analysed in a later post.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Preface to an Analysis of a Police Operation

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

An Analysis of a NZ Police Intelligence Operation into Alleged Terrorism in the Urewera, 2006-2007.

This complete series of analyses is based on a detailed affidavit I prepared for the defence of the Urewera Four at their trial in February 2012.  Almost all of material in this series was covered in that affidavit but in lesser detail. For reasons that will be explored in a separate anaylsis of that trial very little of it was used by the defence.

Apart from helping to prepare a trial defence I came to this analysis for a variety of reasons.

The first I suppose was personal. About midday on Monday 15th October 2007 my business premises in Parnell got locked down as part of a nationwide search and seizure operation aiming to discover information to vindicate a Police terrorism narrative. I took the Police to court that afternoon and stopped them from taking away my computers and documents. They agreed to pay $2,000 towards my legal fees. I was pissed off but I got over it quite quickly. A rare win in the High Court against the coercive power of the State helped me to move on.

The second reason was also personal. Rangi Kemara, one of those arrested that morning, was my IT Manager and a loyal, trusted and valuable employee and friend and I knew he was no terrorist. I supported him as best I could throughout his long battles through the courts, at his eventual trial as part of the “Urewera Four” in February 2012, and in the years since.

The third reason and the one that drove most of this analysis was purely professional. The Police intelligence operation crossed into three of the main areas of my own expertise; military operations, intelligence analysis, and Maori development and activism. I switched out of the personal into the professional. It’s what professionals do. It’s what I was trained to do.

For I had been a commissioned officer in the NZ Army for twenty years. With extensive training in all aspects of warfare, as a trainer myself in counter-revolutionary warfare, and with active service in Borneo and Vietnam I knew a bit about the military stuff the Police were alleging. I had also been involved at HQ staff level in the establishment of a counter terrorism capability in the NZ Army. I knew a bit about terrorism. With training and employment as an intelligence analyst in my Army days I knew a bit about intelligence analysis. Quite a bit.

By 2007, after twenty years a soldier, I had spent twenty five years involved in many aspects of Maori advancement and Maori development. I was aware that many of those activities had from time to time been thought to be subversive by an ignorant, racist and paranoid fringe in New Zealand society, including some in the NZ Police. In the 1980s, twenty years before Operation 8, some Maori activists had been labelled “Maori terrorists” in Police intelligence reports. They were wrong then and I instinctively knew that they would be wrong again. But instinct is not enough and I determined to objectively analyse the Police intelligence operation to prove my point. Or not.

I knew and respected many in the activist networks, both Maori and Pakeha. Of those arrested I knew Taame Iti and Rangi Kemara. I also knew some of those who had attended Taame’s wananga in the Urewera who had not been caught up and arrested in the “raids” on that day. I knew none of them were terrorists. I suppose in my own way I was a minor activist myself, having chosen in 1988 to use the power of my writing to support Maori political, economic and social aspirations. “Te Putatara” was the vehicle then, and is still.

I remain the proud holder of the Queen’s Commission I received when I was commissioned as a junior infantry officer in the 1960s. A commission is granted for life and it is one of my most valued possessions, three decades after I retired from active duty. To me it signifies that I was then and remain still a “trusty and well beloved” servant of my country. My commission says so. It reads in part:

“Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith – To Our Trusty and Well beloved Roslyn Nepia Himona, Greeting: We reposing special Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage, and Good Conduct, do by these Presents constitute and appoint you to be an Officer in the Regular Force of our New Zealand Army ….”

It embodies for me the code of honour, the ethical values and the belief in democracy that underpinned my commitment to complete this analysis. For I was professionally offended by what I saw at the time as a cavalier Police attitude to democracy, the rule of law, human rights, liberty, freedom, and justice; the things I value as a citizen of a democratic New Zealand.

Would that the commissioned Police officers involved in Operation 8 thought the same way about the obligations imposed upon them by their parchment commissions.

My fourth reason for embarking upon this project was to make sure that a complete analysis was laid down for future reference in the hope that one day an official public inquiry would be commissioned. There have been inquiries by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Human Rights Commission but they were both quite shallow and did not get to the core problems of Police conduct and ineptitude in Operation 8. The Parliament refused to allow a full public inquiry. The suspicion is that Parliament did not want to lift the lid to reveal some fundamental flaws in our New Zealand version of democracy and a failure of democratic process. For this operation was signed off by the Prime Minister herself.

My final reason is to lay down a platform for the children of the late Tuhoe Lambert to clear his name. Tuhoe was a fellow Vietnam veteran; a patriot. He was arrested on that fateful day, and was included in the final five to go to trial but did not live to see the day. His name remains sullied, at least in the public record. As part of this analysis I have written a tribute to Tuhoe Lambert in which I declare his innocence. As a direct response to Operation 8 two of Tuhoe’s children have studied law and I hope that one day they will be able to clear his name.

While they’re at it they might clear the names of their father’s friends Rangi Kemara and Taame Iti, and Emily Bailey and Urs Signer; the “Urewera Four”.

Having said I was determined to objectively analyse the Police intelligence operation I readily concede that in places I venture into subjectivity and opinion. My opinions are those of an expert and I think I have made it abundantly clear where I have been subjective and personal. It was deliberate and not an unconscious slip of the pen, or malfunction of the keyboard. Unlike the detectives whose work I was analysing I know when I’m being objective and when I’m being subjective. Long ago during my training as an intelligence analyst the difference was drummed into me.

I was partly motivated to conduct this analysis by the outpouring of anger, opinion and commentary immediately following the paramilitary operations in October 2007. Whilst I understood the anger I did not agree with much of the opinion and commentary. It seemed to me to be situated in academic and activist intellectual frameworks that were remote from the reality of the events. People had situated their analyses of Operation 8 within their own frames of reference and political understandings instead of within the actual events.

I resolved to correct, or at least to balance the record. In doing so I have had the advantage of access to information that was not available at the time and I have not had to speculate about what Police were thinking. They wrote a lot of it down. The information includes:

  • Multiple Police affidavits;
  • Police evidence;
  • Court records (many of them originally suppressed);
  • Indictments;
  • Court summaries; and
  • Many other documents.

I have also been able to interview some of the key accused over a period of time. That has not been easy as I have had to treat what I was told with a degree of scepticism until I could verify what I was told. It took some persistent questioning and checking before I was able to piece together what I thought was actually going on in the Urewera.

Without that access to information in the period immediately after the paramilitary operation there was much comment in the media and some commentary was circulated in the networks. Probably the most permanent and representative record of that commentary is in “Terror in our Midst, Searching for Terror in Aotearoa New Zealand”, edited by academic and historian Danny Keenan (Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2008).

The book contains eighteen commentaries (including editorial) mostly by academics with many of them, in my opinion, somewhat wide of the mark. They situated the events of October 2007 within discourse on colonialism, early settler history, Ngai Tuhoe history, and legal “suppression” history. I think the real reasons for the events of October 2007 are far more prosaic; ordinary and everyday. It was a simple Police cock up. Fuelled, I agree, by ongoing ignorance, paranoia and racism, but mostly by simple incompetence and ineptitude. Fuelled also by a troubling disregard for democracy, the rule of law, human rights, liberty, freedom, and justice.

Anyway, that is the major conclusion of my study based mainly on the evidence presented by the Police themselves, and on my own investigations into what was really going on at those wananga in the Urewera. I have mostly put aside theory and tried to focus on fact.

Having said that I don’t disagree with all of the commentary. From “Terror in our Midst” I have quoted extensively from the essay by Luke Crawford, “Ruatoki, the Police and Maori Responsiveness” (p.79). I was entertained by the Epigraph by Pou Temara, “Terrorist in our Midst?” (p.15) in which he humorously and correctly debunks the notion of Taame Iti as terrorist.

I was inspired by the essay and poetry of Alice Te Punga Somerville in “Poetic Justice: Writing (as) the Struggle” (p.223) to add my own account to the public record. And I was heartened by a comment by law lecturer Mamari Stephens after she had analysed in “Beware the Hollow ‘Calabash’ Narrative, Analogy and the Acts of Suppression” (p.181) some of the legal analogies used by some commentators:

“But I would suggest the 2007 raids should be best understood on their own terms and that we, as commentators, might seek to avoid collapsing histories and time to make rhetorical comparisons unless the points to be gleaned are so compelling and enlightening of both situations as to make the risk worth it”.

I hope I haven’t quoted her out of context to serve my own ends! I have tried to understand the 2007 raids on their own terms.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: A Failure of Command in the NZ Police

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not everyone shares Government’s confidence in Howard Broad.

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

Business as usual.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

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

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links: The Operation 8 Series

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

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The IPCA Report states:

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

There were other stupid behaviours including:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These questions need to be asked.

The IPCA again:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me maumahara tonu matou.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The genesis of a bogus free trade agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America’s economy still dominates, for the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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