Urewera 4 Trial – Day 5: End of the 1st Week

Article – Annemarie Thorby

The trial of the four remaining people arrested as a result of Operation 8 will continue with a jury of only 11 after one juror was discharged due to a family tragedy.Urewera 4 Trial – Day 5: End of the 1st Week
by Annemarie Thorby

The trial of the four remaining people arrested as a result of Operation 8 will continue with a jury of only 11 after one juror was discharged due to a family tragedy.

Today saw several CIB detectives give evidence about their gathering of evidence.

The first was Adam Eltham, the officer in overall charge of the exhibits.

He said that he had was responsible not just for recording the exhibits but also for tracking exhibits as they left his custody to be examined, for example, by ESR.

Eltham said that he recorded all details of the exhibits and when and where they went.

Prosecutor Ross Burns read through a series of texts from Tame Iti to a range of people confirming if two dates were OK for people in April. Mr Burns called these dates – the Rama. (Previously they had been referred to as camps by the Crown and at various times by defence as Wananga).

Officer Eltham was also responsible on 27th April 2007 for following Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara.

He said that on that day Rangi visited a cafe, an army surplus shop, a gun shop, a supermarket and a petrol station, picking up two passengers on the way (two people originally arrested but subsequently had all charges dropped).

Eltham followed the car to White Pine Bush reserve south of Whakatane and he said ‘that ended my involvement.’

Russell Fairbrother, Tame Iti’s lawyer, cross-examined Eltham and asked him when he first became involved in Operation 8.

Eltham said in his mind it was around the time of the Maori Queen’s death, and after checking his notebook said that his first entry was dated 24th August 2006.

Upon further questioning about his role as overall Exhibits’ Officer, he said that he received the information once other officers had reviewed it and he gave numbers to the exhibits, with a general numbering system used.

As to more specific names, eg. ‘blue bag’, each individual officer called it as they interpreted it.

Mr Fairbrother asked if he had received any directions as to the naming of items. Eltham said, he ‘didn’t recall anything specific.’

Mr Fairbrother also asked Eltham if he recognised immediately one of the passengers Rangi had picked up. To his positive answer, Fairbrother asked if it was his (Eltham’s) role to make inquiries about these people or was it done out of interest. Eltham agreed, but said it was another officer who developed background material.

The next witness (with name suppression) was a witness brief read by consent to the court. It detailed following a vehicle containing two people who have had all charges dropped against them.

Two police officers, who also had name suppression then gave evidence in person.

The first was a sergeant who had given evidence earlier in the week.

Today he talked about attempting to find two huts in the Ruatoki area in May 2007.

He said that he was ‘tasked to confirm some huts in that area.’

When he reached the huts, he took video and photographic evidence.

He described the huts and when the Crown Prosecutor asked him if the huts clearly had two different purposes, the officer replied ‘Yes, I was told Hut A was a wharekai and Hut B a wharenui.’

When asked about where he was standing to take photos, he replied, ‘Haven’t noted where I took those photos from but they would have been in area of the talking stone, in front of Hut B.’

In the next few questions, the Crown began to call the ‘Huts’ the ‘wharekai ‘ and ‘wharenui’.

The sergeant was questioned about leaving the area, and he said they took ‘a well-worn track that led down the spur-line’. On the side of the track he found a balaclava.

On June 26 2007 the officer said he returned to the area to recover a number of cameras that had been placed on June 18.

The Crown asked if he had on June 26the opportunity to visit the wharekai and wharenui again. The officer confirmed he had and he noted signs that people had visited the area.

There was a tarpaulin covering the back of the wharenui and covering the mattresses in the wharenui. There was also a sink over food in the wharekai. Photos were taken.

He was also made aware of items outside that had not been present at his earlier visit, these were spent cartridges, and he was shown a photo of a tree stump that showed evidence that a firearm had cause the stump damage.

Under cross-examination by Russell Fairbrother, he was asked, ‘why did he call the talking stone, (the) talking stone?’

He said it had been pointed out by some of his colleagues. Mr Fairbrother asked if it had some cultural significance. ‘Yes,’ was the response.

Mr Fairbrother then talked about respect. Asking if he wanted to show the officer respect, he would call him ‘sergeant’ rather than ‘constable’, the officer replied yes. Mr Fairbrother then said ‘You called the wharekai and wharenui huts until led by the Crown.’
‘Yes.’

‘A respectful way to refer them is wharenui and wharekai?’

Yes

Mr Fairbrother said Inspector Jago had earlier described them as ‘a classical whare style and construction.’

The officer said, ‘I don’t know about the construction but I accept that they were set out in the traditional way.’

Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara’s lawyer also asked about the structure of the wharenui.

Val Nesbit, Emily Bailey’s lawyer asked about the training and what sort of clothing the STG were using when they were in the bush in May.

Mr Nesbit asked, ‘are you trained for situations that you hope will never occur?’

The officer responded, ‘we are trained for situations that may occur but whether they occurred or not….’

The officer refused to say what they were wearing because that was going into operational matters.

When questioned by Mr Nesbit whether the wharenui and wharekai had been there a long time and were well established. The officer replied, ‘yes, they did not appear new.’

He also answered ‘yes’ when Mr Nesbit said, ‘When you went down the well-worn track, is that when you found a balaclava?’

The next officer gave evidence that he followed Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara on 22nd June. He said that he saw Rangi ‘exiting his house and going to his vehicle wearing items he was wearing.’

He proceeded to talk about following Rangi from Auckland to near Taaneatua, before leaving Auckland Rangi had picked up a passenger, one of the original defendants who had all the charges dismissed against him.

The next officer explained how on 22nd June 2007 he was the photographer stationed in Te Puke to photograph certain people driving through the town.

He said he was able to identify Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara in his car and another vehicle with a further person (someone who had all charges dismissed) because he used the pedestrian crossing to make the cars go slower.

On the next day he followed Rangi’s car.

The next witness was sick and therefore only one more witness was called. This witness was charged with the surveillance of a ‘target’ who also has had all charges dropped.

The day ended with more video footage taken in the Ruatoki bush and the sound clip of gun fire.

Before wishing the jury a restful weekend, the judge remarked that ‘even with shortened days, it seems to be well up to speed.’

The case will recommence Monday 20th February at 10am
Annemarie Thorby is a teacher, activist and freelance writer accredited to cover the Operation 8 trial for Scoop.co.nz
ENDS

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