30 Oct 2016

Top Māori cop to review Tūhoe woman's case

10:22 am on 30 October 2016

The country's most senior Māori policeman has stepped in to review the case of a woman who says she was rejected as "too nice, knew too many people and was Tūhoe".

Helen Tulloch was said she was rejected by the police training college because she is Tūhoe.

Helen Tulloch was said she was rejected by the police training college because she is Tūhoe. Photo: Supplied

Helen Tulloch completed a police preparation course at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa last year and passed, but after spending four shifts at the Whakatane police station her application was declined.

Ms Tulloch twice appealed against the decision and lost both attempts. She said a recruitment person at the college told her she was "too nice, knew too many people and was Tūhoe".

Ms Tulloch said she was disappointed she wasn't seen to uphold police values which included respect, integrity, commitment to Māori and the Treaty and valuing diversity.

Deputy chief executive Māori, Superintendent Wallace Haumaha, has personally called for a review of Ms Tulloch's case after she raised concerns about the recruitment process.

Ms Tulloch told RNZ she was "happy that police will take another look".

She said she would accept any outcome, and if it was not meant to be, she would find other ways of working with Tūhoe youth and her community.

But she was grateful Superintendent Haumaha was taking a personal interest.

Police had earlier issued a statement on the decision not to proceed with the application saying it had been appropriate and peer reviewed and was not due to Ms Tulloch's tribal affiliations or because she knew many people.

Ms Tulloch grew up in the Whakatane area, which has a Māori population of 42 percent, compared to the New Zealand average of 14 percent.

Police statistics show 67 police work in the Whakatane District, but just eight of those identified as Māori. None holds a position higher than constable, and none are women.

Police deputy chief executive Maori Superintendent Wallace Haumaha

Police deputy chief executive Maori Superintendent Wallace Haumaha Photo: Supplied

Superintendent Haumaha told TV3's The Hui programme there had been major progress in Māori relations with police, particularly with Tūhoe, where he held regular leadership meetings at Te Uru Taumatua in Taneatua.

Just nine Tūhoe people have joined the police force since the 2007 raids on the people of Te Urewera.

Last week a senior tribal member of Tūhoe, Patrick McGarvey, said police needed to give Ms Tulloch the performance report so she could see exactly why she failed to make the grade.

Police told RNZ the report would not be returned to Ms Tulloch because it was an evaluation tool and the Privacy Act protected the writers.

Superintendent Haumaha said the review would begin next week and Ms Tulloch would be contacted once it was completed.

Ms Tulloch said she was looking forward to the outcome and moving forward.

Mr McGarvey said there were good reasons for Tūhoe people to work in the police force.

"The aspirations for the relationship between Tūhoe and the police need to filter down to people on the ground, which is why people like Nen are valuable because they look like us, sound like us and can relate to us."

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