Apr 21, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

Govt ‘panic reaction’ to Urewera judgement condemed

2 min read

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell has condemned the panic reaction of the National Government in responding to the Supreme Court Urewera judgement by seeking to pass temporary legislation under urgency next week.

“It appears that what the National Government will ask us to do, is to suspend the law temporarily – to condone the unlawful act by the Police; and then to add fuel to the fire by introducing legislation to make the ‘unlawful’ lawful”.

“What sort of justice system do we have if the upholder of the law is allowed to break the law and get away with it?

The Maori Party will be carefully scrutinising the Court of Appeal decision and the associated cabinet papers to understand the full impact of this rushed decision in response to the Operation 18 fiasco.

“We believe that justice can only be done when it is seen to be done” said Mr Flavell.

“The facts of this matter seem unequivocal – the Court has decided that the use of video surveillance is unlawful in the absence of prior judicial authoritisation. Because there was no legislative authority the Police should not have acted the way they did.

“Two wrongs do not a right make. There is no way the Maori Party will support after-the-fact legislative change to make the unlawful lawful”

“We want justice for the people of Tuhoe who are still left out in the cold by this latest turn of events”.

Have the people of Te Urewera not suffered enough?

“When will they receive the apology and the recognition due to them, that unlawful police investigations were allowed to proceed, unabated, causing significant trauma to children, to families, to the small community of the Ruatoki valley?”

3 thoughts on “Govt ‘panic reaction’ to Urewera judgement condemed

  1. I want to know if this so called surveillance for safety will also include on anything “Business” wise. Surveillance for anything illegal could be not paying taxes, which also gives the government all access to anything and everything involving a citizen’s or Iwi’s business right?

  2. Editorial: Clearer view of Urewera case valuable


    For much of the past five years, New Zealanders have heard about the so-called Urewera terror raids from only one side. A string of court suppression orders have created the opportunity for the defendants to hog the headlines. Maori and activist groups have heaped scorn on police claims that public safety was threatened, while anger from the townships that bore the brunt of armed police squads further undermined public confidence in the operation.

    Such is the unfortunate outcome when the principle of open justice takes a back seat.

    Belatedly, more information has been released thanks to the lifting on Friday of a suppression order on a Supreme Court judgment. This revealed that the police exceeded their legal authority in secretly filming alleged quasi-military training camps on private land in the remote Ureweras. For that reason, firearms charges against 13 of the accused have been dropped. But the court also ruled that the evidence, although unlawfully obtained, is able to be used against the remaining four accused, including Tuhoe activist Tame Iti, because their alleged crimes are more serious and the evidence could not be gathered any other way.

    The Crown alleges the quartet were members of an organised criminal group that planned to commit murder, arson, wounding with intent and other crimes. They also face firearms charges. It is alleged the group had Molotov cocktails and semi-automatic rifles. The Supreme Court verdict on the admissibility of the evidence was finely balanced, with the five-strong bench split three to two. Equally, the release of this and other suppressed rulings was strongly contested.

    Lawyers for the four accused argued that airing the court judgments would harm their clients’ chance of a fair trial. The Crown, for its part, said that anything prejudicial to the defendants in the rulings had been blacked out, and that rulings should be released “at a time when the matter is still in the public interest”. Clearly, the sidelining of the police side of the argument rankles.

    The release of the Supreme Court verdict does not, of course, say anything about the merits of the Crown case. It does not say the evidence is strong enough for the quartet – Iti, Maori sovereignty advocate Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara and Taranaki-based environmentalists Urs Signer and Emily Bailey – to be found guilty by a jury. That will be decided after the trial starts next February. But, in filling the vacuum created by the many suppression orders, it finally allows a more balanced perspective of the police action.

    This, in itself, is important. The previous one-sided picture and the many twists and turns of this case have undoubtedly eaten away at public confidence in the police.

    Many have been persuaded that they were guilty of a massive over-reaction. Critics have also been quick to point out that what was once to be a prosecution based on the post-9/11 Terrorism Suppression Act has been downgraded to something far less serious.

    But it is important to note that the Solicitor-General ruled out the use of that legislation not because of the police allegations but because the law was “unnecessarily complex, incoherent and almost impossible to apply”.

    In so doing, David Collins went out of his way to note the activities under surveillance were “very disturbing”, and that the police had “sufficient and proper basis” for their investigation.

    His statement has now been supplemented by the release of far more of the Crown’s allegations.

    The clamour for the remainder of charges to be dropped will surely cease. Finally, with people less in the dark, the public interest is being better served.


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