Tūhoe and the Police are strengthening their relationship with a face to face meeting in Wellington. The two groups have come together to assist some of the children affected by the 2007 Raids in Ruatoki.
It's all fun and games today for these Ruatoki youngsters. But seven years ago, the last time some of these children were up close and personal with Police, it wasn't like that at all.
Moko Hillman says, “It was difficult time for us all back then. But now we can come here and meet them, under a banner of goodwill to work better together."
Police commissioner, Mike Bush says, “It’s really important for Police staff to understand the impact of their actions. When we get it wrong we have to learn from it.”
Police raided the house of Awhitia Kohu and her partner Moko Hillman. The couple’s children were also there, and Kohu says they are suspicious of police after being treated like animals.
“It was like being treated like a second-hand citizen, you know, like you say maybe like an animal if you get picked up by the SPCA. I’m sure you get taken care of but we didn't. That’s what I wanted for me and my children,” says Kohu.
Hillman says, “They didn't want to go outside. Their friends would tease them, saying they were terrorists.”
But Hillman says the kids get to see a different side of the Police, closing the gap between the two groups. With some of the children even considering a future with the "boys in blue".
Maui Te Kira says, “It’s something to think about for the future. Police are good at teaching children about road safety, drink-driving and helping out parents.”
This visit alone won't fix the hurts of the past, but the Commissioner wants to visit Ruatoki again this August, a year after he apologised to the community there, to build and strengthen the relationship between themselves and Tūhoe.