National | New Zealand Police

Policing hub in Tāneatua opens with Tūhoe partnership

Signage is entirely in te reo Māori at the new Police hub in Tāneatua and counters have been replaced by kiosks. It will also be open for community events. Photo / Supplied

Police and iwi have opened what they say is one of the most progressive and community-oriented stations in the country, in Tāneatua.

Kaumātua in the eastern Bay of Plenty town led karakia at a community blessing attended by Commissioner Andrew Coster and Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha this morning along with Ruatoki and Waimana residents.

Since 300 armed police stormed the Urewera mountains on October 15, 2007, claiming some Tūhoe were involved in terrorism activities, some iwi members have had a contentious relationship with police.

No one was eventually charged with terrorism despite 18 people being arrested, some at gunpoint in front of children.

The region's old station was destroyed by fire in 2018 but police say that presented an opportunity to partner with Ngāi Tūhoe and other community partners to better reflect the community through a new base.

“While devastating at the time, the fire was an opportunity to create a new community-focused and sustainable space that’s also a great place to work for the two officers stationed here,” Coster said.

Iwi-police friendship

“This whare is a touchstone for positive change – it’s a place that encourages engagement with the entire community and the spirit of mahi tahi (working together).

“Its wairua can be felt inside and out.

Te Uru Taumatua chair Tamati Kruger says Tūhoe has been a strong support partner throughout the various stages of the project.

“This base is a product of the friendship between Ngāi Tūhoe and New Zealand Police,” he says.

The front of the base features art by Wharerangi Turnbull.

The piece, called Whakakotahi (To Unify), was designed to promote unity, teamwork, rebirth, rebuilding, participation, and the past, present and future of Tāneatua.

Barriers gone

The front counter has been replaced by a kiosk and much of the space is open to the public for community hui and events.

“By removing some of the physical barriers between police and the community we hope to create a safer, more inclusive space that brings people together,” Coster said.

The station is the first in the country to feature external signage exclusively in te reo Māori.

The cladding and design take inspiration from wharenui, and it's planted with native flora.

It's only the second police building in the country to be solar-powered, and has a rammed earth wall and flooring repurposed from a decommissioned local cheese factory.

The design decisions were led by an external reference group, including Tūhoe and other community partners, Haumaha says.

“The partnership with the community reference group has been imperative in getting this project just right for police and the community, and creating an environment in which everyone can thrive," he says.

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