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Urewera 4 Trial – Day 14 'Checking Things Thoroughly'

Urewera 4 Trial – Day 14 'Checking Things Thoroughly'

Urewera 4 Trial – Day 14 Monday 5th March

'Checking Things Thoroughly'

by Annemarie Thorby

Guns and talk about chat rooms dominated much of Day 14 of the Operation 8 trial.

Monday morning began with the continuation of the cross-examination of Hamish MacDonald.

MacDonald is an Officer in the Special Investigators Group in Auckland and had been on the stand on Friday afternoon. He had been giving evidence about the surveillance of Emily Bailey and other people of interest to the inquiry.

'I checked it out thoroughly'

Val Nisbet began by asking once more about MacDonald's role in Operation 8.

That is, 'was it his job during Operation 8 to make enquiries in relation to people he and his team suspected of being involved with the so-called camps'.

MacDonald confirmed that his role was as officer in charge of suspects, that was clarified as being people who had attended the camps.

Nisbet asked if, when there was a suspected camp in Ruatoki, someone noted down the license numbers of all cars that were in Ruatoki that day?

MacDonald said someone in the team did do that, and the data would be given to hielf and Aaron Pascoe. They would then make inquiries about the information.

He agreed there was a vast number of people that the police collected data on.

Nisbet asked him if he knew how many people would have attended the camps over the time.

The officer did not know.

He knew there were 58 suspects in total but could not guess as to approximately how many people in total had attended the camps.

Nisbet said 'if I said over 200 people went to the camps, would I be right or wrong?'

The officer said it would be less than that but with a core group of thirty or so people.

Nisbet then asked the officer if, further to his job, would he check a website if it was about Maori indigenous issues.

When the officer said yes, Nisbet then asked him if he had found a website called 'Conscious Maori'. The officer did not recall that. However he had heard of 'Nice and Native', which he described as a 'gathering of people talking about indigenous issues'.

It was a week long gathering in Raglan and included attendees from around the world. MacDonald said the police had no people there.

The officer was then asked whether he recalled been sent in June 2007 to Ngaruwahia to check out an address there. He said 'quite possibly, there was an address there'. Nisbet then asked again, if the officer had checked out a registration plate, registered to an address in Ngaruwahia.

The officer said 'there was one address there', and confirmed that it was a car going to the camp, he said that, 'if information came to me, I checked it out thoroughly'.

Nisbet asked if the car was owned by two people, MacDonald replied that he thought only one person.

Nisbet referred the officer to his job-sheet and the officer apologised and said that was not the vehicle he was thinking of.

Nisbet then asked, 'So that car was the car you enquired about, it had been in Ruatoki at the time of one of the camps.'

The officer said, 'I can't say yes or no, I can't recall why we were looking at that car. It was quite possibly seen somewhere along with our enquiry.'

Nisbet asked the officer if he had been tasked to check the car out by Pascoe.

MacDonald confirmed that and also agreed with Nisbet that one of the owners was Nandor Tandos, a Green MP at the time.

Nisbet put it to the officer that that was an example of how how wide-spread the enquiries were made of people at the time.

Before returning to questions about the investigation into internet websites, Nisbet asked the officer if he had made inquiries about another person not arrested in relation to the Operation. MacDonald confirmed that he had.

Nisbet asked if, as part of the enquiry, the officer had checked out the website 'Conscious Collaborators'.

The officer answered 'vaguely' and when asked if he remembered that on that website was a report about 'Nice and Native', he said 'to be honest no.'

The officer did accept however, that the information was in his job-sheet and that the next gathering of 'Nice and Native' was in Tuhoe land. He said, 'if it's in my job-sheet, yes'.

Prosecution briefly re-examined MacDonald concerning the investigation of the person who was not arrested as part of the Operation. He was the brother of someone who was alleged to be involved in the 'action around the car'.

Fun Guns

Next on the stand was a former ar dealer who in 2006 owned a gunshop in Auckland. He is now an engineer and still holds a gun license.

The man said he knew TeRangikaiwhiria Kemara and Kemara would come into the shop 'maybe twice a month' and he agreed that he also saw him socially as well.

Kemara had told him that he went 'shooting and things like that somewhere in the Kaimanawas'.

At one stage Kemara offered to help make the gunshop owner a website in exchange for a flare launcher.

The Prosecution then took the man through one of the evidence books and asked various questions about the guns shown there.

With regard to the first photo of a semi-automatic, he was asked what Kemara had asked him to do with that gun. The man responded 'to shorten it down, but within the legal limits'.

The prosecutor wanted to know if Kemara had said why he wanted it done.

The gunshop owner said 'no, but I do that a lot for customers, even for myself.' And when asked why, explained that it makes the gun 'a fun gun'. He said people put up targets and shoot them.

The prosecutor asked the man to look at the next photo and asked, 'did he bring a pistol like that?'

'Blanks, you mean?' asked the man and then agreed that he had seen Kemara's blank-firing pistol.

The prosecutor asked about more guns, and referred to two that were in parts. One was a gun that Kemara had asked the gunshop owner to make legal, that is put it together and give it a serial number.

One of Kemara's lawyers, Nick Taylor, cross-examined the man.

The gun-shop owner agreed that Kemara had a standard A-Category firearm license and could therefore buy certain firear.

He explained that a flare launcher does not need a licence.

When asked how common it was to shorten barrels on a gun, the man said it is common, and 'it is fun'. He explained that 'shooting gas bottles is fun'.

In response to a question about when that is done, he said 'not normally when people go hunting because it scares away the animals. But I still do it today.'

He said normally people do that where they 'can get away from houses and homes.'

When asked if people 'put up improvised targets', he said people 'put up anything, it's at your discretion.'

He was also asked again about the blank-firing pistol and confirmed that no gun license is required for it. He said it was 'a little copy of a pistol, deliberately made small' and that a person 'only needs a license to buy the rounds to go in them.'

When asked if a Magnum rifle is common, he replied that it is 'the standard rifle kids take rabbit hunting. I know the importer brought in a hundred thousand of them.'

He confirmed that it is an A-category rifle.

When asked about the rifle that was in parts, he agreed that Kemara was trying to have a serial number put on it but he had to have it put together first.

The next photo was of that gun. Taylor asked him if he had put it together. He said, 'no, it was taken off from me by a police man.'

He could not put it together as it was too difficult. The gun was his property at the time.

Under re-examination he was asked once more about this gun. He was asked if he could put a new serial number on a gun, when he confirmed that he could, prosecution then asked him if Kemara had wanted that.

The man replied, 'He asked me to make it legal.'


The next person on the stand was Peter Roberts, a fingerprint expert with over 33 year experience.

On 30th July 2008 he received from the police a document from the police to review.

On the paper he said he found two identifiable prints: one palm print and one finger print. He identified the palm print as belonging to Urs Signer.

Under cross-examination by one of Urs Signer's lawyers, Liz Hall, he explained that the fingerprint was an identifiable print, if he had 'a cross-reference of control prints he could then identify it'.

He was asked about where the prints were on the paper and if he could tell what finger the fingerprint was. He said, it was 'probably a finger but could be a thumb, I would know if I could identify it.'

He said there was nothing he could say about the context of the prints, that is when they were put on the paper - before or after the document was written.

He had been provided by the police with a list of 20 possible names and fingerprints so that he could at least cross-reference any prints found with a short-list. He had also checked the national database but the fingerprint remained unidentifiable.

Hall read through the list of 20 names and Roberts confirmed that he had checked both prints against the 20 names. He said that none of the people on the list had made the fingerprint.

'Certainly Not in My Household'
Alan Langille, the next witness, is a supervisor of digital forensics for the Electronic Crimes Lab (ECL) in Auckland. He is a non-sworn officer at ECL and during Operation 8 the ECL received a number of computers to examine.

Langille explained how a computer is cloned, or in other words a forensic image of the hard-drive is made. First a forensic image is made and then the next step is to look at what is on the hard-drive.

He explained that the role of his team 'is enablers...we make available what is on a hard-drive and give it to an investigator so that they can see what is relevant to their investigation'.

Prosecution asked him about AoCafe, (AoCafe is a website that used to host several chat roo in which people could discuss a wide range of issues relating to te Ao Maori).

He said AoCafe was a chat program that used Voodoo chat, a freeware on the internet.

He downloaded the same version of Voodoo and 'engaged with another person, a policeman' to see how it would look on a computer.

When using Voodoo, log-files were generated by the program when two people went into private chat. These private chats left profiles on the hard-drive and the date and time setting came the computer the person was using.

Langille then went through the computers he had examined, these included computers belonging to people originally arrested but no longer charged. He noted the different user names and profiles.

Kemara's computer had the server on it. There were three roo in AoCafe that were of particular interest: Whare, Gate and Revo.

During cross-examination, Langille told Russell Fairbrother that he could not identify a person to a user name and could not see who was logged into a computer. If a computer is left logged in and the screen unlocked, anyone can use it.

He was then asked by Fairbrother what the final entry meant in one particular chat on 28th August, it said 'user (Name) is not a registered user name. He said it was 'difficult looking at this log to see if he recovered it or if it was found someone else doing recovery'.

He said that he could not find it, 'but if the logs were recovered from this exhibit, it shows a conversation between two people, in chronological order'. He said 'the actual log file would recall if it is a private log and would record the two names of the people'.

During the morning interval Langille looked at a disclosure CD and was able to say the original entry was on the CD.

It showed the next entry after the one on 28th August was on 26th September. 'It shows when those two users were together on a private chat in September'.

He was asked again about the 'not a registered user' and after a brief explanation, the Judge interrupted and asked if he was saying that 'this message was sent but may not have been received'. Langille replied that he had 'no way of knowing.;

He also explained under cross-examination that he had no way of knowing who the author of the profiles were.

Fairbrother then returned to an earlier question about validating data back to the original hard-drives. Langille said he could not say if he did or not.

TeRangikaiwhiria Kemara's lawyer Jeremy Bioletti asked which what forensic data was used to interrogate the hard-drive and clarified that the data found on the computers 'in layman's ter hadn't been deleted or put in trash.'

Langille agreed. Bioletti then asked, 'The log files and profile files, none of that data was concealed?'


'There were no steps to conceal those files, or delete them into unallocated space?'

'Not that I saw.'

Bioletti then asked about the Voodoo chatroom, he asked if it was similar to logging into Facebook, 'you can see other users on line and chat to them in private?'

Langille explained that when in a private chat it is just a two-way conversation.

When Bioletti asked again about the similarity between Voodoo and Facebook, Langille said that 'I hate to admit it - I don't use Facebook.' But he did understand the concept. He used google chat.

He confirmed that when looking at a private chat between two people, there is 'no public context of what was happening'. 'There's no context there between those private communications and the public chat occurring at the same time.'

Bioletti also asked about the process of logging into a chatroom. Langille explained, 'in a lot of progra people don't want their Email address visible, so they register with that but use a user name'.

'And get a password?' asked Bioletti.


Bioletti then asked about passwords, and Langille agreed that 'having a generic name is not good'.

He also agreed that people do not have to log in when someone has ticked a box saying 'remember password'.

Langille said it was 'certainly not good practise' to tell computers to remember your password.

He said, 'Certainly not in my household' when Bioletti pointed out that 'that sort of thing is quite common, common in households'.

But he did state that he 'certainly knew people who can't be bothered to remember their password'.

He was also asked about the Voodoo homepage. When he installed it, it had 82 public servers on it and over 500 users.

Liz Hall, one of Urs Signers' lawyers, then took over cross-examination and she asked how easy it was to turn off the default setting that ensured the computer created a log of private chats.

Langille said, that it was 'quite easy to turn off, go to tools and turn it off'.

He confirmed again that public chats can never be recorded like private chats and that to turn off the setting for private chats is 'not difficult'.

He also agreed that 'when you are having a private chat, you can read what is going on in a public room'. He said that the 'majority happen that way. It is quite common for people to be in multiple private chats'.

Hall then asked 'could there be 5 people sitting at one computer using a private chat-room.' He said, 'yes, but the log would show only one user'.

He did not investigate the security settings on the chatroo, but could confirm that the server gives administrator rights and that 'if you wanted to go into a chatroom all you needed to create was a user name and identity', however he said 'to log into particular chatroo, it depends on how the administrator had that set up'. He could not confirm if AoCafe was a public set-up or not.

Hall then asked about typing message, she asked 'Now if I am typing you a message, does that text appear on your computer when I am typing or when I push the enter button?'

In Voodoo, explained Langille, it is by using the enter button.

He said it happens often that 'chats can get out of sync' if someone is typing faster than the other.

National Intelligence

The next person in the stand was a police officer, Michael Cartwright who investigated AoCafe during Operation 8. He is now an officer in National Intelligence in Police Headquarters in Molesworth Street.

He was able to locate Kemara as the administrator as it listed his name, address, role and contact details for the website.

As part of his investigation Cartwright downloaded registered with AoCafe and downloaded Voodoo chat. When he accessed it, there were three users on line. There were private chat roo he could not access unless given access by administrator. But he agreed that he could chat with other people by clicking PM (Private Message).

Of the three people on line at the same time as him, two did not have profiles and the other was Kemara. The profile gave Kemara's real name and listed his interests as including the environment, music, tino Rangitiratanga and anarchism.

Cartwright and Kemara then chatted on-line for approximately one hour. He said that they talked mainly about 'Maori activism and activism in Auckland'. Other things they talked about were, 'nothing in particular: weather, hikoi, stuff in news'.

The prosecution asked if Kemara had indicated at that time his political views.

Cartwright said, 'He mentioned certain people in the political system and current political methods.

He was critical of the Maori Party in general, I think he talked about the hi-jacking of the hikoi by Maori Party. That they used it as a bit of a platform to move into politics'.

Under cross-examination by Liz Hall, he confirmed that when he went into AoCafe, no password was required once he was logged in with his own user-name and password. To get into the Aotea chatroom and view messages and profiles he needed another user name and password, so he used the same one.

He said he did not examine the set-up of AoCafe.

Hall then asked Cartwright about the time he was assigned to the Threat Assessment Centre in Auckland. That was roughly from 2003 to around 2007.

She wanted to know if, during his time at Threat Assessment and generally, did he have contact with Peter Gilroy. At first he did not know the name, but then he remembered that Peter Gilroy was his equivalent in Christchurch.

He said that there was a little open communication between Auckland and Christchurch and that sometimes if Peter had information he would pass it onto him.

Hall wanted to know if it was in this context that the name Rob Gilchrist came up. Cartwright that it was something to do with informing police. When asked if Rob Gilchrist's handler was Peter Gilroy, Cartwright said, 'Look I don't know, I’m not partial to those details'.

He could not recall when 'the whistle-blowing by Robert Gilchrist happened' but thought it was later than 2008.

Baseball Caps

A witness brief was read by consent. It was from Constable Darren Attwood and it concerned observations of Bailey and Signer on Friday 14th September 2007.

He said that he was 'tasked with conducting observations of Signer'. He followed the car to a BP station. Signer was in the front passenger seat and he was wearing a baseball cap. The car drove to Rotorua, where it stopped at a supermarket and both Signer and Bailey went in, both were wearing baseball caps. Attwood followed them into the supermarket and found them both in the produce section. They were still both wearing baseball caps.

Attwood went outside and looked at the car. He described it as 'having dents, average condition.'

Signer and Bailey then returned to the car and Attwood followed it to Mitre 10. The two met another person who is no longer charged. The car with the three people in it, then travelled towards Whakatane. Attwood stopped observing when it turned right into Taneatua.


After lunch an agency analyst for Vodaphone NZ explained how he had supplied to the police during Operation 8 data pertaining to numerous phones; including attributing ownership, approximate location of where calls were made, all out-going and in-coming calls and text messages. He was also asked to provide data regarding landline numbers.

Eftpos Records and Unknown Parties

Detective Eamonn Whelan, supposedly second-in-charge in Operation 8, returned once more to the stand in the afternoon to explain about how he had used banking records, in particular from KiwiBank and Westpac, to track movements of the accused and other people during Operation 8.

Every time an Eftpos card was used he could see where that person was at a particular time. In court he read through the banking records compiled as evidence, to show that people had been travelling to Ruatoki or in that area at the time of the camps.

Liz Hall cross-examined Whelan, not only about the banking records but also about other electronic data in the Urs Signer book of evidence, mainly text messages sent and received on his Motorola phone.

In Signer's books were numerous texts that were described as 'unknown party', they were listed in the book as unattributed.

All the data had been taken off Signer's SIM card and Whelan had also looked through the contact lists saved to both the phone and the SIM card. There were roughly 200 contacts in total, but with five more on the phone than on the SIM.

Hall read several texts marked as unattributable and each time was able to point to Whelan where the unknown party was actually in Signer's contact list and/or identified on the vodaphone spreadsheet.

Whelan agreed with Hall that, 'for the numbers police recorded as unknown, they have names associated with them in the contact list on the phone or in the SIM card'.


Another Brief of Evidence was read in consent by the Registrar. This one was from another ESR scientist and concerned two boxes of bottles sent for analysis.

The first carton received at ESR were 9 Steinlager bottles and one Royal Crown bottle in a Steinlager box. The second was 7 Steinlager bottles and a piece of cloth.

With each bottle, the scientist had written in her brief how she had checked any liquid found in the bottle, whether there were signs of heating or soot damage, whether hairs were found on the bottle and 'cellular material was taken from the bottle mouth to see whoever had drunken from the bottle'.

At the end of the long brief, Ross Burns, the Prosecutor, thanked the Registrar and said, 'in case anyone noticed that was evidence about bottles'.

Aaron Pascoe in the Stand

Finally it was the turn of Aaron Pascoe, the police officer who 'had practical day to day over sight of Operation 8', to take the stand.

The first question was about one of the brothers who had given evidence on 22nd February. The two brothers had described how they had both been shocked and surprised when ambushed on their way to one of the camps with their personal trainer and then hearing the argument about the nutritional value of nuts versus meat actually at the camp.

Ross Burns asked Pascoe, if during evidence given on 22nd February, one of the brothers had identified a person originally arrested but no longer charged with any offence as being present.

Pascoe said yes, and named the person.

Burns then presented a google earth photo to the court and asked the jury to look at the 'Scenario Document' in Signer's booklet. He then compared the 'scenarios' and sketches on the document with the google earth map before the court broke for afternoon tea.

Back in session and before the jury were called back, the judge said the court needed to set time aside to discuss issues with defence witnesses. This discussion was not in Chambers, but it is expected that the actual talk will be on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

When the jury returned to the room, Burns continued to cross-examine Pascoe.

Pascoe agreed that Operation 8 was a collaborative investigation between many officers but 'at the end of day he was the final person regarding evidence and content of the evidence books'.

Pascoe said, 'yes I made final decision about which evidence is going to be relevant'. He said he had 'access to everything'.

Burns then asked about how Pascoe had formed attribution with regard to the chat room logs and texts. First numerous chats were read once more and Pascoe explained how he knew what the user names were. Some of the user names included 'Squealy Pigs', 'Me Just Me,' 'Check', 'Typo' and 'Bring the Storm'.

There were also portions of personal chats read to prove the relationship between some of the people.

After talks in chambers, Burns continued to ask Pascoe how he had attributed chats, then went onto talking about attributing texts and phone calls. Pascoe said he had 'used a wide array of things, including chats, logs, texts, greetings and people had phone lists on walls for instance'.

Burns then asked about identifying people at the camp through clothing. Pascoe said he also used 'moving video footage' as 'some people have distinctive ways of walking'. He then detailed how he had identified people.

Burns also asked him once more about the blue barrel found outside a house that is associated with Tame Iti. He asked him in particular about a CD found there, and Pascoe said it contained 'extracts from an IRA exercise manual'.

What is Rama?

Cross-examination then began by Russell Fairbrother.

Fairbrother wanted to know 'the word camp whose word is that?' He then also asked Pascoe what he thought Rama meant.

Pascoe said, 'Torching or fishing by torching' and gave his theory about why they were named that.

Fairbrother told him to 'forget his interpretation' and asked once more, 'what is Rama?'

Pascoe said that 'from the point of our case it doesn't matter what Rama means at all'.

He was then asked how often he had been to Ruatoki. He replied once and that was at the time of three more people getting arrested around February, March 2008. He said that he had been involved in the case since 2006. He had looked at the history of the Ruatoki area.

He had watched the CD 'Tuhoe Resistance' but could not 'specifically recall it'.

He agreed that it contained 'heart-rending stories of people talking to the Waitangi Tribunal' but it had been a long time since he saw it.

When Fairbrother asked about the statement made in the film by one person, 'too Maori to Pakeha, too Pakeha to Maori', Pascoe said he did not agree that that was a common problem now.

Fairbrother pointed out that the comment was made a young woman in her twenties.

Fairbrother then said 'now using the word camp, or Rama or team-building'...'each of the scenes were on private property'. Pascoe agreed, including the river scene.

Fairbrother then asked if Pascoe was aware that Tame Iti had travelled overseas to perform Shakespeare plays after his arrest in October 2007. That Iti had been in the Tempest play from 2006 onwards.

Pascoe was aware that Iti was involved in that during the time of the investigation.

He was aware that Iti was also involved with clai to the Waitangi Tribunal, but he had not read the Waitangi claim.

With regards to the unidenitifed white car found at the house in Ruatoki associated with Tame Iti. Pascoe could not recall if he had 'ascertained who was the registered owner of the vehicle'. He said that, he 'personally didn't QVR all the cars' but he would have 'expected that the vehicle would be checked'.

He said the vehicle 'was found at Tame Iti's house, had his clothes in it, and guns were found near it'.

Pascoe agreed that he had sat in court when Roser gave evidence. (Roser was the officer in charge of searching the house associated with Tame Iti and had given evidence that he did not know to whom the car belonged).

When Fairbrother asked if Pascoe, upon hearing Roser's evidence, had 'gone off and done some investigations?' Pascoe said, 'no not at all'. But then corrected hielf and said that he had searched for the car registration in his Windows spreadsheet. He could not find it however.

Fairbrother then asked about the trousers with the digitised camouflage pattern. Pascoe said he did not know the size but he compared the camouflage pattern on those trousers to ones in a photo that Tame Iti were wearing.

He said he did not look at the size but compared the distinctive pattern on the crotch with the same pattern in the photo. He made three circles on the crotch area in the photo to note the similarity.

He had 'no idea how many of those trousers are in the Ruatoki or Bay of Plenty area'.

Court adjourned at 5.05 until 10am Tuesday March 6th.


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