Hager's files 'untouched, in our hands, safe forever'

Nicky Hager (Wilhemina Shrimpton/Newshub.)
Nicky Hager (Wilhemina Shrimpton/Newshub.)

Journalist Nicky Hager says he wishes other media could have been with him to witness the destruction of hard drives containing information police illegally took from his house.

In October 2014 police raided his home while he was out, taking -- in Mr Hager's words -- his entire office.

Hager's files 'untouched, in our hands, safe forever'

The search came after the publication of Mr Hager's controversial book Dirty Politics, based on emails taken from Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater during an attack on his website in early 2014.

A court last year ruled the raid was illegal. Today, police took Mr Hager down to the Auckland High Court basement so he could personally oversee the destruction of the police's copy of his files.

Hager's files 'untouched, in our hands, safe forever'

"The police held torches around while one of the detectives -- in fact, the detective who was in charge of removing stuff from my house was there -- destroyed the materials they had copied from the house," Mr Hager said today.

"We were down in this dark little room, and the detective took an orange-handled hammer and he hit this hard drive 213 times. Then he took our boltcutters and he cut holes in it… it was a very vigorous way to do it."

Mr Hager's lawyer Steven Price says they are satisfied Mr Hager's material was not looked at.

"I'm happy to report that I think those have not been tampered with and that Nicky's sources are safe, and that all of the material that was seized has now been returned to him."

In addition to "hundreds of thousands of files from different projects", Mr Hager says the police even took "the very last ancient CD of family photos".

"They took everything. It's been fairly inconvenient not to have it, but most important of all, it's all coming back… we'll be walking off with it untouched, in our hands, safe forever."

Hager's files 'untouched, in our hands, safe forever'

He says today was like "watching history going on".

"I wish you could have all been down there. We spent the last two months trying to get permission for the media to be present for that moment, because it does seem a very important moment for me…

"What we saw down there with each blow of that hammer was hitting home the fact that because of this court case, there are better protections, there are better legal protections nowadays for the media. I hope everyone will benefit from this."

He thanked his legal team, other media, and supporters who helped fund his legal campaign.

As for the busted hard drive, Mr Hager joked it will end up "in Te Papa one day".