Q+A: Paul Holmes Interview with Te Uroroa Flavell
Q+A: Paul Holmes Interview with Te Uroroa Flavell,
Maori Party MP
Points of Interest:
Maori Party MP says that King’s revelations about Solicitor-General on Q+A “open up the door on a bigger inquiry” into Urewera raids.
On Urewera raids, Flavell says, “I’d hope it never ever happens in a community in Aotearoa ever again.”
Police actions during raids amounted to “an ugly scenario” that was “heart-wrenching.”
Police relations with Maori have “taken a hit” as a result of Operation Eight.
Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE. Repeats of Q&A will screen on TVNZ7 at 9pm Sundays and 9am and 1pm on Mondays.
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TE UROROA FLAVELL Interviewed by PAUL HOLMES
PAUL Now with me is Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell. What do you make of that? Is that police inquiry, is that enough?
TE URUROA FLAVELL – Maori Party MP
Well, I think that the revelations given by Annette King this morning open it up to a far wider terms of reference. That may well come from a royal commission of some kind that really gets to the heart of the case, because we’ve got here an admission in front of the whole country that the person who gave advice about saying, “Yes, go ahead and do the operation” all of a sudden turns around and says, “No, the law is inappropriate.” I mean, that surely is enough for us to open up the door on a bigger inquiry.
PAUL I know, that’s extraordinary. We get Annette King asserting this morning that, um, was it the Prime Minister turned to David Collins: “Is the use of this act appropriate?” “Yes, it is appropriate,” he says. The whole investigation’s been done under this act. And a month later, out he comes as says, “No, the act’s no good in this case.” So everyone’s left up in the air. The whole thing was a cock-up. Is that your impression?
MR FLAVELL I think that’s a good description of the whole scenario right from the beginning to the end, even to the outcomes of the police wanting to keep everybody locked up and not allow bail, right through to the end of the case, and it’s on-going, because there's still a lot of unanswered questions still to be considered.
PAUL One gets the impression the cabinet were almost deceived by the police leadership.
MR FLAVELL I think that sounds like... On the face of it, what Annette King’s given to us is that it sounds like very much the case, and I can talk back and reflect into discussions with other Maori members of Parliament – the Labour ones at the time – that they were pretty astounded at what had gone on as well.
PAUL Yeah, I mean, were the police out of order?
MR FLAVELL Well, I suppose they acted on whatever they decided was the criteria to make it happen, but, boy, the ramifications of that action on that day – I’d hope it never ever happens in a community in Aotearoa ever again.
PAUL What was your reaction, Te Ururoa, when you saw on the news that night – well, you would have heard through the day what was going on, but when you actually saw the pictures of the police in these incredible outfits and the scale and the scope of this operation?
MR FLAVELL I was astounded, like pretty much I would suspect most Maori and most New Zealanders, that such an action would be taken. Because we didn’t get all the information. We didn’t know who was involved. But as the operation tracked out and as more discussion came about, we had people that we personally knew involved in some of the situations. We had families... As an MP, I received a number of calls from families who had had their houses tipped over by the police. It was an ugly scenario. And then to go across and participate in a hikoi with Kōhanga Reo kids and the parents and the grandparents involved in the Kōhanga Reo – it was heart-wrenching.
PAUL Do the cops have it in for Tūhoe?
MR FLAVELL Well, you’d better ask them, I think, about that, but on the face of it, the actions that were taken on that day were way out of order to have happened in the Ruatoki Valley, and the Tūhoe consider that as part of an on-going, I suppose, battle with the state that started over 150 years ago on the arrival of the constabulary into the Urewera.
PAUL In the 1860s, that’s right. Nevertheless, you see, we have to put... Do we have to be fair to the police? Do we have to put this into context? This was six years after 9/11, and strange things are happening all around the world – bombs are going off in London, Madrid, God knows what. And here we have people running around in the bush with semi-automatics, Molotov cocktails. What was going on? What were they doing that for? Do you know? What was the endgame?
MR FLAVELL Oh, I have no idea. I have spoken to one or two people about it, but it would be just conjecture on my part, so most of the information’s come out in the public arena through the court case. It’s best to leave it at that.
PAUL How badly do you think the reputation of the police has been hit amongst Maori?
MR FLAVELL I think it’s taken a hit. I think it’s definitely taken a hit amongst the Tūhoe people. The lack of trust... I mean, there has, over the last maybe 15, 10 years or so, been built up a positive relationship, with the use of the Maori Liaison team that go about work at Waitangi, work at major Maori hui and are always seen to be around and about, and the involvement of Maori wardens as well has been quite important. But they had a Maori, a Tūhoe, a community person there that was well able to be able to take part and give advice on the operation...
PAUL Annette King mentioned this to me yesterday. She doesn’t know why police didn’t make better use of the Maori Liaison officers.
MR FLAVELL Well, absolutely. Even at the top end of the police organisation... You know, our discussions with some say that even at the top end of the police organisation, Maori were pretty much left out of the discussion and any sort of notice about what was going to happen at all.
PAUL I thank you very much for coming up this morning, and all the best.
MR FLAVELL Kia ora, Paul.
PAUL Kia ora.