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John Tamihere: Give Haumaha a fair go

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Give Haumaha a fair go
John Tamihere

Superintendent Wally Haumaha has copped a lot of stick over the last two months.

That's because the quality assurance manager overseeing morality and ethics of all New Zealanders has determined that officer Haumaha is, by way of association, unfit for the job of Deputy Police Commissioner. Who is the authority?

Everyone who has been a victim has a monopoly on victimhood. But being a victim does not mean that you can carry out utu ad infinitum because of the outrageous and disgusting conduct that has been visited on you.

If society wants to head that way, then just set up lynch mobs and vigilante groups and do away with the justice system.

I live, work and breathe in a community where acts of depravation make you question humanity on a daily basis. How people can abuse children, commit unspeakable acts of violence with their women and children can at times become heavy and incomprehensible.

I too have come from a difficult background in that regard. Not only did I see a lot of what a child should not have seen, but I made a commitment to making things better than they were. Making things better means not carrying acts of constant revenge.

So back to Wally Haumaha. His police service record speaks for itself. I have known of officer Haumaha for over 20 years. I cannot call him a friend, but have known him as an acquaintance. I have to work as an advocate on behalf of our communities in all the varying degrees of difficulty as they present.

I have a professional relationship with the New Zealand Police Force. I am not a servant of it but on many occasions have been an advocate against bad police practice.

For example, regardless of socio-economic status, it is a fact that there is not one law for all.

It is a fact that Maori are four times more likely to be multiply charged if they are picked up by police. It is a fact that they are seven times more likely to be incarcerated because they are Maori. Simple statistics, no emotion, nothing else just clear statistics. Maori do not get the nod for diversions and sanctions as much as others in the community.

I have argued with officer Haumaha and others that the New Zealand Police Force has an ethnic policing component to it. That is just a matter of statistical fact and on the record. Superintendent Haumaha is at the forefront of turning that culture around.

Let's put the facts on the table. You will note from the breakout chart, that this New Zealand Police Officer has an outstanding service record in commitment and service to upholding the law in this country.

As a young non-commissioned officer straight out of police training college, Haumaha was placed under the supervision of then senior officers Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton.

I have never been in the police force but I have been a territorial soldier, I have played and bonded in premier rugby league sides and First XV rugby teams. What I do know is there is a huge bond of camaraderie that must exist in team networks.

Senior officers on the frontline make all the calls and given the discipline in the police force, fellow officers on the frontline must protect themselves, must support one another and must back one another up. It's as simple as that - life or death.

When the 2004 Operation Austin inquiry into Louise Nicholas' claims of historical police sexual offending was undertaken - which subsequently led to Dame Margaret Bazley's Commission of Inquiry into Police Culture - Haumaha was by then a senior officer. He was questioned as were all other police personnel who worked with Schollum and Shipton.

His comments were open, overt and honest reflections of what he thought of his fellow officers. His knowledge of them is there for the record.

Our knowledge of them, after two court cases, where Schollum and Shipton were found guilty of abusing their positions of authority and committing rape are now on the record.

Haumaha was not to know that either of them could be Jack the Ripper. What Haumaha and his fellow officers knew, was what they knew about these two individuals, who were their superiors and comrades on the frontline.

"My people who knew Bob (Schollum) were shocked by these allegations of rape, as this was not the Bob they knew," Haumaha told Operation Austin detectives.

It seems that the hunt to remove Haumaha from the New Zealand Police Force is driven on the basis of 'guilt by association.'

It cannot be that he breached the law because constable Haumaha was a workmate of Schollum and Shipton. If all officers who worked with Schollum and Shipton are guilty, then of course Haumaha is guilty.

But the question is guilty of what? Guilty of honestly reflecting and expressing his view of his comrades in arms? Or guilty of a thought process where he wanted to honestly advise what he thought of his workmates?

Or guilty of only witnessing the strengths of his colleagues and fellow officers on the frontline? So bugger the facts, let's just burn Haumaha at the stake.

Wally Haumaha's stellar police service

1998: Awarded the Queen's Service Medal for service to the community in the Criminal Investigation Branch and as the Officer in Charge of Community Policing.

2000: Awarded the Police Commissioner's Commendation for establishing the first Memorandum of Understanding between Police and 14 major iwi groups in the Bay of Plenty.

2003: Appointed to new role as national strategic Māori adviser at police national headquarters.

2004: Led the largest Māori protest hīkoi in history, the Seabed and Foreshore hīkoi, from Northland to Wellington without incident or arrest. Awarded the Police Commissioner's Commendation for dedication to duty as a result.

2007: Appointed to new role as national manager of Māori Pacific and ethnic services

2017: Made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

2018: Appointed Deputy Police Commissioner.


Operation Austin

The 2004 Police Operation Austin was the investigation into historical claims of pack-rape and corruption by police. It began after allegations made by Louise Nicholas. Former police officers Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton were found not guilty of kidnapping and indecently assaulting the complainant in the 1980s, but were both convicted of the rape of another woman in Mt Maunganui in 1989 and in 2005 jailed for 8 years.

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