Waikato Community Stakeholders seek reinstatement of Hui
#ArmsDownNZ - Waikato – Waikato Community Stakeholders seek reinstatement of Hui with Acting District Commander, Waikato Police over Armed Response Teams (ARTs)
Our collective #ArmsDownNZ - Waikato was informed yesterday that a Hui with Acting Waikato District Commander Inspector Andrew Mortimore and Constable Joe Pratt, scheduled for today 22 January had been cancelled. Mortimore advised, “that there is already enough public information provided around the ARTs”.
Our collective states, “that there is a lack of accountability and a lack of consultation. These have been our concerns since the inception of such policing decisions of the arming of NZ Police. We will now take further action. We have identified that the Crown acted or had an omission or is inconsistent with the principles of Te Tiriti and have submitted a Waitangi Claim”.
The refusal to meet by Waikato Police comes a little over two months since the refresh of Te Huringa o Te Tai, NZ Police’s Maori strategy which is meant to continue to strengthen the Police’s relationship with Tangata Whenua. The strategy states “we will see local action plans co-designed, and implemented in partnership with Iwi Māori based on the specific needs, context, and values of local communities”.
Te Huringa o Te Tai is set within the framework of Police’s Prevention First Operating Model and focuses on Police’s effort around three Pou or pillars; our people and our mindset, effective initiatives and improved practice, and effective partnerships.
Minister of Police Stuart Nash stated in his 6 November speech at the Police Launch in Wellington, that “New Zealand Police’s motto is Safer Communities Together. For a moment I want to focus on the word “together”. “Together” is about New Zealand Police working with all of New Zealand’s diverse communities, and working with a range of valuable partners, to make New Zealand the Safest Country and enhance security at home and in the Pacific”. Nash went on to further state that “the Crown has a unique treaty relationship with Māori and our Government is focused towards living up to being a Treaty partner that meets the expectations of Māori on issues of importance to us both”. This means that Police direction, initiatives, models and in fact all Police work needs to reflect the principles of Te Tiriti of Waitangi – Partnership, Participation, and Protection.
#ArmsDownNZ - Waikato is disturbed that this strategy since its inception in 2012 is another document that is left to sit on the shelf and gather dust. It “seems” acceptable for the NZ Police to bring this document out at certain times, as a window dressing and tick the box exercise so as to make us believe they really are operating under a “Prevention First” model. Yet for us out in the grassroots communities facing and confronting working with whanau, hapū and iwi and the overwhelming domestic issues on a daily basis, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Our rōpū highlight the extreme importance that Police and all its staff understand the expectations of Māori and the whakapapa that exists between us – as Māori and Police, and as Māori and the Crown. As Minister Nash highlighted “having this understanding is incredibly important for Police to be able to deliver its obligations under the Māori Crown relationship. This means that Police direction, initiatives, models and in fact all Police work needs to reflect the principles of Te Tiriti of Waitangi - Partnership, Participation, and Protection”.
On 10 December 2019, the Deputy Police Commissioner John Tims was interviewed by Jack Tame. Tims stated that the Armed Response Teams pilot had been introduced for the police’s safety and that “we are really interested in feedback from our community”. We, therefore, seek reinstatement of the Hui we sort with Waikato Police.
ARTs are an issue of importance. They impact minority groups such as communities with mental health challenges, those living in poverty, those battling addiction and our gang communities, groups that the police have identified. It is hugely important to consult and communicate and deal with all sectors of our Maori community. This seldom happens.
We do not believe the legitimacy of using the March 15 attacks as a rationale to introduce Armed Response Teams. On 18 October 2019 when Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced the Armed Response Team pilot, he stated that “there is no immediate threat. However, we must recognise that the environment has changed and Police’s capability and resourcing need to reflect this to ensure New Zealanders feel, and are, safe. We are undertaking the trial to assess whether ARTs improve Police’s ability to keep our staff and the public safe through their ability to respond to situations with specialist skills and expertise, minimising risks to the public and our people.
It is our contention that the targeted focus of this pilot has turned from the white single disaffected perpetrator of the Christchurch Massacre to the non-white community. We would also like to highlight that of all historical shooting massacres in New Zealand, all but one has been white perpetrators. Of the approximately 17 police officers shot dead in the line of duty, the majority of them were killed by white offenders, and in fact, within the Waikato region the greater percentage of prosecutions related to firearms offenses fell on the shoulders of white offenders.
The Police Commissioner Mike Bush stated publicly on 7 November 2019 that a bias towards Maori is known to exist in policing, a concern they intend to address. It must also be highlighted a large number of Maori and Pacifica complaints to the Independent Police Conduct Authority many of the complaints made by Maori and Pacifica Peoples relate to the alleged biased conduct of the police. We know that the ART personnel have been drawn from the Armed Offenders Squad, which is not a stand-alone unit, with members being drawn from other working sections of a police station. Therefore, we believe the training of AOS members falls way short of providing arms and negotiation skills of a quality that would ensure the safety of our communities when dealing with the new ARTs, particularly in terms of racial bias training.
Our collective knows that the implementation of armed police will fundamentally change policing in New Zealand forever and will further disenfranchise already marginalised communities. Overseas evidence shows armed response teams are used for routine police work, this evidence also shows an escalation in the arms race between disenfranchised communities and the police.
On 10 December 2019, Deputy Police Commissioner, John Tims told Jack Tame on Q+A that police do not yet have a system to measure the impact of their armed response trial. He further reiterated having armed police make his officers feel safer in their jobs since they have been deployed. He admitted firearms do not need to be presented to deploy ARTs, they are there to support front line police to apprehend priority offenders. He admits there is no additional training for ARTs and concedes there is conflicting evidence that supports the notion of armed police dissuades criminal offending.
This collective supports the work already undertaken to ask Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Minister Stuart Nash to cease increased militarising of police in this country, to stop the trial of and commit to not implementing the Armed Response Teams and the further arming of our police.
Instead, they would prefer the funding for arming Police, be invested back into communities at risk, with prevention methods, building relationships to solve problems together - creating more flourishing and connected communities.
Waikato Community Stakeholders
Alvina Edwards, Anjum Rahman, Donna Pokere-Phillips, Sonny Fatupaito, Mona Tai, Louise Hutchinson, Robert Moore, Amanda Nelson