Kunere Timoti will never forget the armed police raids. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Kunere Timoti will never forget the armed police raids. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Children who were caught up in 2007 Urewera "terror" raids have been invited by police to travel to Wellington as they seek to rebuild trust with the community.

The Tuhoe iwi posted on its Facebook page that the police had invited rangatahi from Ruatoki and Taneatua who were impacted by the raids to take part in the trip to the capital.

"This is one of a number of activities that will be co-ordinated by the NZ Police to renew the relationship between the Police and Tuhoe peoples," it says.

The notice says the visit is for children of 11 to 17 years - those who were between the ages of 4 and 10 at the time of the raids.

Three months ago, Police Commissioner Mike Bush officially apologised to Tuhoe action including armed police stopping elderly people and children at roadblocks.

Two years ago, Kunere Timoti - who was riding the school bus to Taneatua on the morning of the raids - recalled what happened.

"I was only 7 at the time," Kunere said. "I remember the bus stopping and then looking out my window.

"What I saw then will stay with me forever."

Kunere said a man wearing a balaclava had a gun pointed towards the bus.

Yesterday, Tuhoe spokesman Tamati Kruger said there had been a range of reactions among children caught up in the raids. Some would be "changed people".

"They will never be the same; they will harbour little respect for the law, the police and for the system, if you like.

"Others have fared a little bit better. The apology would have had an effect on them where they saw the Police Commissioner come into their home and admit the police got it wrong.

"And that, I think, would have had an effect of explaining things to them and they would manage."

Tuhoe had gained police apologies for families affected and the wider community, and the upcoming trip was "part of that arrangement", although it had been initiated by the police. The response to the offer had been good, with strong interest from children and their parents.

"It's not really an event that's really promoting the police. While there will be a visit to the Police College, they're engaged in other activities and amusements around the Wellington area for a couple of days that otherwise these children would not have access to.

"They are looking forward to that and I think there's a degree of gratefulness for the sentiment that's behind that arrangement by the police."

Police did not respond to requests for comment.

- NZ Herald