Mock ar­rest of teenager was tikanga

Taranaki Daily News - - News - HAR­RI­SON CHRIS­TIAN

A po­lice of­fi­cer who al­legedly kid­napped a teenager has de­scribed his ac­tions as be­ing in line with a Wha¯nau Ora strat­egy to re­duce Ma¯ ori crime.

In­spec­tor Hu­ri­moana Den­nis and Sergeant Vaughan Perry are on trial in the High Court at Auck­land over the mock ar­rest of the then 17-year-old, who has name sup­pres­sion.

Yes­ter­day, a state­ment given by Perry was read by De­tec­tive Mal­colm Spence, who in­ves­ti­gated the May 2015 in­ci­dent.

Perry was the sergeant on duty at the Auck­land Cen­tral po­lice sta­tion when the teen was pro­cessed and locked in a cell as if he had been ar­rested.

The Crown al­leges the 17-yearold was given an ul­ti­ma­tum by Den­nis in the cells – start a new life in Aus­tralia with­out his

15-year-old girl­friend, or be charged with statu­tory rape.

Den­nis was a fam­ily friend and the mock ar­rest oc­curred over con­cerns the teen was hav­ing un­der­age sex.

The next day, the teenager was al­legedly put on a plane to Aus­tralia, be­liev­ing he had no other choice.

In his state­ment, Perry said his su­per­vi­sor had ap­proved a visit by Den­nis to take the teen through the cells.

He said Den­nis was ‘‘try­ing to use the Ma¯ ori restora­tive jus­tice and Turn­ing the Tide process’’ to help the teen straighten his life out.

The Turn­ing of the Tide is a strat­egy de­vel­oped by po­lice and iwi that aims to re­duce Ma¯ori over-rep­re­sen­ta­tion in crime and road safety statis­tics.

In his ev­i­dence last week, the teen said he was locked in the cell for up to an hour-and-a-half, and he be­lieved the ar­rest to be real.

Perry’s state­ment said the teen was locked in the cell for 10 to 15 min­utes.

‘‘I was led to be­lieve the role play and mock pro­cess­ing was at the ex­press con­sent of [the teen’s] par­ents,’’ the state­ment said.

‘‘I un­der­stood from my dis­cus­sion with In­spec­tor Den­nis that [the teen’s] visit was by con­sent, but I did not per­son­ally ask him that.

‘‘He didn’t ap­pear fright­ened or scared, he ap­peared to be tak­ing in what was go­ing on around him, he was calm and fine.’’

How­ever, Perry also said the teen was cry­ing while locked in the cell.

The state­ment also said that based on the in­for­ma­tion given to Perry on the day, he be­lieved the mock ar­rest was in line with the Turn­ing of the Tide strat­egy.

It was the first time he had been in­volved with the Turn­ing of the Tide, he said.

‘‘It’s not con­ven­tional, and we do what we can to help turn young lives around, to keep young Ma¯ ori peo­ple out of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

‘‘Whilst out in the street, when­ever I come up against our Ma¯ ori youth, I al­ways dis­cuss al­ter­na­tives with them. I 100 per cent be­lieve in it, it’s one of our core val­ues.

‘‘It could be as sim­ple as tak­ing them home and speak­ing with their par­ents.’’

The state­ment added: ‘‘I truly be­lieve in our kau­papa. I was only try­ing to do the right thing.’’

On Tues­day af­ter­noon it was re­vealed that in an email to a col­league, Den­nis had re­ferred to a plan to send the teen to Aus­tralia as ‘‘my Aus­tralian sce­nario’’.

A po­lice in­ter­view with Den­nis in late 2015 was played in court.

Dur­ing the in­ter­view, De­tec­tive Vanessa Pratt re­ferred Den­nis to the email dated May 1, 2015.

In it, Den­nis wrote: ‘‘I’ve asked [the teen’s grand­fa­ther] to look at my Aus­tralian sce­nario and he is do­ing that now.’’

Den­nis ex­plained that in con­ver­sa­tions with the teen’s fam­ily, he ad­vised them he needed to get out of the en­vi­ron­ment he was in.

The teen’s grand­fa­ther raised the idea of send­ing his grand­son to Aus­tralia to stay with an un­cle, and Den­nis said that sounded ‘‘per­fect’’.

Den­nis con­firmed to Pratt that his col­league work­ing on the mat­ter, De­tec­tive Sergeant Neil Hil­ton, had told him he was limited in what he could achieve – given the teen’s adult sta­tus un­der the law, he could live where he wanted.

Pratt asked Den­nis how he had re­sponded to the lim­i­ta­tions Hil­ton ex­pressed.

‘‘I can’t re­call what I would have said to him specif­i­cally, but I prob­a­bly would have said to him, there is an al­ter­na­tive way to deal with this, this is what we’ve been set up to do in­side the New Zealand Po­lice,’’ said Den­nis in the in­ter­view.

He said the teen’s fam­ily had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter their own.

‘‘The tikanga that we talk about, houhou te rongo specif­i­cally, re­lates to restor­ing the mana and tapu of an in­di­vid­ual as part of a col­lec­tive.

‘‘There was an on­go­ing risk of do­ing noth­ing, be­cause [the teen] wasn’t go­ing to stop do­ing what he was do­ing. We needed to do some­thing and . . . The tikanga pro­vided a safe pas­sage that ev­ery­body un­der­stood and that I got be­hind to sup­port.’’

The trial con­tin­ues.

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