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Q+A Panel Discussion on Annette King and Te Ururoa Flavell

Panel Discussion in Response to Annette King and Te Ururoa Flavell Interviews


PAUL                  Time to welcome the panel. This morning, Dr Raymond Miller from Auckland University. Very nice to have you back. And Deborah Coddington is with us, the former ACT MP and columnist. And we also welcome John Tamihere, former Labour minister, chief executive of the Waipareira Trust and radio talk-show host extraordinaire. So what do you make of the revelations, then? Howard Broad wants a meeting. Senior cabinet ministers are assembled. There's going to be an operation tomorrow. Tells nothing much about it. Next night on the news, it’s ninjas everywhere and an extraordinary scale, and it’s happening with David Collins’ approval under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

DR RAYMOND MILLER – Political Analyst
                           Well, this is quite a remarkable interview, I think, because it adds another layer of intrigue to a sordid story. You know, here were two things going on, according to Annette King. One, the scale of the police operation was not revealed to them. She said she would only expect to be advised, but clearly they were surprised the next day when they saw the scale of the operation. The second thing is they would rely on the solicitor general for advice on legal matters. The solicitor general and the Crown Law Office are important, particularly given that Michael Cullen, who was attorney general, was not a trained lawyer – only the second time in history that that’s been the case. And so clearly they were deeply disappointed that they felt a sense of being misled.

PAUL                  Well, this is extraordinary. They turned to David Collins in the meeting and said, “Is the use of this act appropriate in this situation?” He assured them it was, and a month later, of course, dumps on them.

RAYMOND         Some fairness here to the extent that David Collins himself might have been surprised at the scale of the operation and not have known all the details about how much had been collected or how little had been collected as hard evidence.

JOHN TAMIHERE – Former Labour Minister
                           To his... I don’t know the detail, right, so we’re speculating here, but I would anticipate that once he went through the substance of the evidence – he would have been briefed by the police – he might well have said to them, “Well, there’s enough, if this is all hunky-dory, for you to proceed.” He wouldn’t have known the operational details. Then in retrospect, as you start to sieve through what exactly police evidence is, you have some problems.

                           Yes, but that’s not why he said for them not to proceed with all of the 18. The reason why he said not to proceed under the act was because he said the act was unwieldy and unnecessarily complicated,...

PAUL                  Yeah, suddenly decides it’s incoherent.

DEBORAH         ...not because of the evidence. I think a wider inquiry is necessary – not necessarily a royal commission. A select committee inquiry. A select committee is very powerful. It can summon anyone to appear before it. It’s very quick. You know, David Collins has now been rewarded with a High Court judge position. I mean, this is remarkable what Annette King has revealed.

PAUL                  Can I say, the other thing is in my discussions with Annette King on Friday, she said, “We were assured by David Collins that any charges laid would be under the Suppression of Terror Act.” Yesterday when I spoke to her again, she said, “No, no, we were told by David Collins the investigation had been conducted under the Suppression of Terror Act and he must therefore have been satisfied with that.” Therefore one can conclude, can one not, that he knew some of the substance of what the investigation was turning out?

JOHN                 Yeah, well, I don’t know. That’s why it probably needs another inquiry. The fact is, though, that they overcooked this one. When you send 300 policemen into a valley and you turn over a whole community, when you know you can count on one hand the number of possible suspects – we know that now. They turned over a whole village. Now, that’s just unacceptable police conduct.

DEBORAH         We’ve ended up with four people convicted on firearms charges and Molotov cocktails, and in the context of the history of that place – you know, there are startling and alarming parallels with Rua Kenana with Te Urewera. And, you know, this is just an appalling blot again on our history. I’m not saying people should be able to run around with firearms and things, but this was on private land. You know, the Supreme Court...

PAUL                  It wasn’t just the Ureweras. It’s like you have pictures of ninja policemen bursting into Aro St in Wellington. I mean to say it was like the country had gone mad.

RAYMOND         Yeah, well, this is the other thing about police action. In fact, there's a long history, I think, of what one defence lawyer described as the police world and the other – the real world. In a sense, the police, for a long period of time, have tried to identify and get inside criminal groups, as they see them, back to the Springbok Tour, 1981, unions, and you could go on. And really this overreaction, this over-zealotry on the part of...

PAUL                  Yes, it was like the boys got overexcited.

RAYMOND         Yes, exactly.

DEBORAH         It took four years for these people to come to trial. Four years!

PAUL                  Yes, yes, there's also that.

DEBORAH         I mean, the whole thing does need, I think, an inquiry to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

PAUL                  Yeah, alright. So a select committee, you would think?

DEBORAH         Well, something like a select committee.

PAUL                  Something outside of Lowell Goddard’s province.

DEBORAH         Yeah, well, that’s just focused on the police. It goes wider than that.

PAUL                  That’s cool. Now, what about, in defence of the police, to finish our discussion – are you pleased with what you heard Peter Marshall...

DEBORAH         Very pleased, yes.

PAUL                  ...say in his statement to us? He obviously knows...

RAYMOND         Yeah, it’s taken a long time, I might say. It’s taken a long time.

PAUL                  Well, it does with the cops.

RAYMOND         Yes, right.

JOHN                 Look, they wouldn’t... Context is important, but if they had four or five suspects... They didn’t turn the whole of that community over in Aro St. They went straight in and got the suspects they wanted. They had no right to go into the community and turn the whole bloody thing over. I felt violated by that, right, for them. I just don’t think they’re regretful enough. I don’t think they’ve apologised to Tūhoe enough, and they’ve got some work to do.

DEBORAH         The Supreme Court said...

PAUL                  Especially... I’ve got to go, but especially when you look at the whole history of New Zealand government’s actions towards the Tūhoe.


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