The Urewera 'terror raids' were a very bad PR and propaganda stumble for NZ police (Image: TVNZ)

Chris Trotter’s commentary on charges being dropped against some [alleged, not even that now] Maori radical ‘terrorists’ — The Operation That Failed — is worth reading. (And so is the comment stream.)

I fully agree with his line:

When “Operation Eight” was finally launched on 15 October 2007 the images it supplied – of armed police officers, clad all in black, masked, helmeted and wearing Kevlar body-armour – provided the accused’s defence team with all the images of state repression they could use. White’s deployment of his men in and around the tiny Tuhoe settlement of Ruatoki carried an equally potent reminder of the tragic history of the Crown’s interaction with the Tuhoe people. That White either did not know – or simply didn’t care – that he was re-enacting scenes from the Iwi’s troubled past, was, from a strategic point of view, fatal. The propaganda war was lost by the Police on Day One.
Losing the legal war would take a little longer.

Yes, the heavy-handedness which the police deployed against the civilian population of Ruatoki was appalling, stupid and ‘foreign’ to NZ Police. I usually support the fuzz (that’s what we called them growing up) not wishing to badmouth the very people you might call to for help at any time. But they blew it that day.

It seems to me there was a mass-hysteria/groupthink thing going on — ‘team policing’ gone mad? — which led to the police treating that township and its residents like second or third class citizens.

Not a good look.

– P