Urewera Raid arrestees still struggling with legal bills

Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of Operation 8, also known as the Urewera raids, and a lawyer who represented most of those arrested says some are still paying off legal aid fees a decade on.

That's despite them either being found not guilty or charges against them being dropped.

Annette Sykes is still fighting for justice.

"There are still some outstanding matters, unfinished business."

Armed with new anti-terrorism laws, armed police raided Tuhoe heartland Ruatoki and Tanetua, as well as several houses around the country, on October 15, 2007.

Officers were hunting those they believed were involved in suspected military-style training camps in Te Urewera Ranges in the Bay of Plenty.

"The place was in shutdown. I've never struck that in my whole legal career," Ms Sykes said.

Seventeen people were arrested, however none ended up being convicted under the Terrorism Suppression Act. Just four were found guilty on some firearms charges. Two, including Tame Iti, received jail sentences.

Ms Sykes said some of those who weren't convicted are still repaying legal aid bills.

"If the police and the justice authorities really want to put this to bed, they need to look at those kinds of cases and do something about it - not talk about it, do something about it."

The searches, roadblocks and surveillance by police were deemed illegal in 2013.

Many in the Tuhoe community, including children, are dealing with the long-term impacts. Ms Sykes said compensation is due.

"These individual cases, which haven't been highlighted much because of course the spectre was always on those that were arrested, really need to be dealt with."

Ms Sykes said one case which has stuck with her is a grandfather caring for 11 children, whose house was raided. He was never charged, but the family still hurts over the way they were treated.

You can watch the full interview with Annette Sykes and stories from the Ruatoki community on Three's The Hui on Sunday morning.