Addressing the road toll and Operation Eight

Addressing the road toll and Operation Eight

Mike Bush, Police Commissioner

Kia ora koutou. Today I address the tragically high road toll and acknowledge the upcoming anniversary of Operation Eight.

NZ Road Toll

Too many people are dying on our roads. There have been 297 deaths on our roads this year, with 13 of them taking place over the last week alone. These people are parents, children, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues. Each one has left people behind who are grieving for their loss.

Our staff work relentlessly to be visible on the roads and to target risky behaviours and locations. We also partner with other agencies to help keep our roads safe and to educate people on how to drive safely.

So, please take your time, drive to the conditions and keep yourselves, friends and families safe.

I also want to acknowledge the huge impact that attending these crashes has on our own people and other emergency services. It is extremely difficult for staff investigating crashes; members of the public who are often first on the scene; and other emergency services who attend and respond to these tragedies. Please ask for help if you need it.

While it’s unrealistic to expect we won’t suffer further tragedies, we can all take steps to reduce the number of people who die on our roads.


This Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the termination of Operation Eight, in Te Urewera, which has been widely covered by media over the last ten years.

Three years ago I visited Ruatoki to publically apologise to Tuhoe about aspects of the termination, which caused harm, hurt and humiliation to the people of this community.

I have spoken to whānau who were affected and have heard their stories. I acknowledge the distress experienced by members of the community, caught up in the termination, and the impact of subsequent stigmatisation of Tuhoe as terrorists.

There is no doubt the relationship between Tuhoe and Police was damaged. It is only due to the people of Tuhoe being open and willing to work jointly with us, that we were welcomed to Ruatoki to apologise and begin repairing our relationship.

This operation was extensively and independently reviewed and some very important lessons were learned in the wake of the operation. We have taken the recommendations of the IPCA and Māori Affairs Select Committee seriously and have made changes as a result.

We work closely with Tuhoe. I know a sense of safety and trust is being restored thanks to the willingness of Tuhoe and the hard work of our staff.

In New Zealand we police by public consent and it’s critical that all communities have trust and confidence in us.

As always, stay safe.

Ngā manaakitanga

Mike Bush MNZM

Commissioner of Police

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