Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Former cop says two month investigation into high ranking officers alleged border breach is bullsh*t

Police are refusing to say where their investigation is into a high ranking officer who allegedly breached Auckland’s southern border.

While they have been relatively swift to prosecute members of the public and release information about those charged with leaving the Super City without exemptions they will not be drawn on the investigation into one of their own.

A former officer who spent decades investigating crimes in New Zealand said the situation was “bullsh*t” and it was a clear breach that should have been dealt with long before now.

In September the Herald revealed that Counties Manukau Māori responsiveness manager Inspector Regan Tamihere allegedly crossed the border at South Auckland without an exemption.

Sources told the Herald he was driving an unmarked police car and in full uniform when he was stopped at the border with passengers.

Those passengers were iwi contacts he knows through his position with police.

One source said he was “doing a favour” for those contacts.

Auckland was still under stringent Covid-19 alert level restrictions and formal exemptions were needed to leave the area.

The source said Tamihere was challenged by police staff manning the southern border – but they reportedly allowed him through after he insisted they couldn’t say no to him.

Tamihere told them that he could cross the border because he was an essential worker.

However, it is understood the trip was not considered official police business and police have confirmed no exemption was given for travel.

It has now been two months since the alleged breach and no action has been taken.

Tamihere remains at work on normal duties.

The Herald sought an update from police on the investigation this week.

A spokeswoman said there was “no update on this matter presently”.

The Herald pushed further for comment pointing out that when others breached the border or Health Order, charges were filed within days or weeks – and conveying that members of the public had expressed concern and frustration over the relative silence around Tamihere’s situation.

“Unfortunately as this matter remains subject to ongoing employment and IPCA investigations we are unable to comment further at this time,” said the spokeswoman.

Several police sources have also expressed frustration at the length of time it is taking to investigate Tamihere’s alleged offending.

It is understood other officers have contacted Tamihere’s boss – Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers – about their concerns.

It is unclear how long the investigation will take.

In other cases charges have been laid almost immediately.

When two Auckland sex workers were found at a Blenheim motel without an exemption they were charged and appeared in court within days.

An Auckland couple who flouted lockdown rules to fly to a holiday home in Wanaka were charged with failing to comply with a Covid-19 health order 13 days after their alleged breach was discovered.

William Willis, a 35-year-old horse breeder from Karaka, and his partner Hannah Rawnsley, a 26-year-old barrister from Pukekohe, have been charged.

The pair sparked outrage nationwide when it was revealed they crossed a police checkpoint border in Auckland using essential worker exemptions during alert level 4 lockdown and drove to Hamilton Airport on Thursday, September 9.

Willis is the son of a District Court judge.

And controversial church leader Brian Tamaki – a self ordained “bishop” – has been charged multiple times for attending public protests in the last month.

Members of the public have contacted the Herald questioning why it is taking so long

One man, a former police officer who spent more than 20 years on the front line, said it seemed like a “very simple case”.

“It doesn’t normally take seven weeks to investigate such a simple matter.”

He pointed out that other people who had crossed borders had been charged the same day or the day after and put before the courts.

“So why is it taking so long to charge their own staff member…other police staff witnessed the [alleged] offending and it is clear he had no exemption to travel.

“The breach is a very simple matter to investigate, like all the other ones they have investigated… The police bullshit continues.,..the police have already confirmed he had no exemption to [cross the border].”

Tamihere has declined to comment on the matter so far.

A police spokeswoman said the organisation was “very concerned about this reported incident”.

“For this reason, police has self-referred this matter to the Independent Police Conduct Authority,” she said earlier.

Police previously confirmed to the Herald that Tamihere had crossed a boundary checkpoint “without an appropriate exemption”.

“As police currently understand it, this involved a member of police accompanying a group of people across an alert level boundary so they could attend a burial a short distance away,” she said.

“Police have confirmed the travel was not permitted … but further inquiries into the matter are required to more fully understand the context, including decision-making around the case.”

Tamihere, a former Auckland Blues Super Rugby player, is one of four iwi liaison staff in Counties Manukau, one of 12 in the wider Tamaki Makaurau area and one of 56 across the country.

Each iwi liaison officer helps to “navigate cultural issues and work on improving police relationships with Māori”.

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