Police Commissioner Andrew Coster commits to meeting Māori Party, says police 'did try to make contact' about 'no-show'

The Police Commissioner says he still wants to meet with Te Pāti Māori after failing to turn up to a hui on Wednesday, a "no-show" the party's co-leaders described as "disgusting". 

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi said on Wednesday that Andrew Coster didn't show up to a hui to discuss recent threats towards Māori and a taskforce they are calling for to investigate "anti-Māori hate speech from white supremacist organisations". 

"He was a no-show," Ngarewa-Packer said. "We are really disappointed. It shows to us how he feels and how they feel about the types of attacks and threats that Māori are receiving and we didn't even get notification he wasn't showing up."

"For the Commissioner not to show up and to do a complete no-show on Te Pāti Māori is disgusting."

Coster appeared before the Justice Select Committee on Thursday and afterwards told Newshub it was "unfortunate" he couldn't attend the meeting. 

"We are going to meet. We did send along a senior member who is very familiar with the case, who has been overseeing it. We will meet."

A police spokesperson on Wednesday said "communications" were sent to "the MPs' offices prior to the meeting" mentioning the commissioner wouldn't be attending. 

Coster told Newshub police "did try to make contact. It seems that maybe those messages didn't get through in time". 

Newshub has seen two text messages sent to Te Pāti Māori's office by police at 2:27pm on Wednesday - two hours after the planned meeting was meant to take place.

The first is an apology that "the Commissioner is unable to attend the hui today".

"Apologies for the short notice on this." 

It says that Detective Superintendent Greg Nicholls "will attend and we can reschedule a hui at a later date with the Commissioner".

The second lays out potential dates for a future meeting.

Police maintain "we sent messages in a number of forms (prior to the meeting) after we were unable to connect with them directly".

The Māori Party co-leaders said at about 2pm on Wednesday that they had received no notificaiton.

The commissioner said he understood how the party felt about him not showing up.

"It is certainly was not the message that I am sending and we are really committing to hearing from anyone who has a view on how police can make a better contribution in this area."

But he wouldn't say if he would like to apologise.

"I will speak to them."

Coster said he "absolutely" heard their concerns about the rise of anti-Māori rhetoric online. 

"Any kind of racism and division in our communities is something that we should all be really concerned about. We are concerned about that and we play our part in terms of dealing with hate crime."

Ngarewa-Packer and Waititi.
Ngarewa-Packer and Waititi. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Waititi said on Wednesday the meeting was meant to be an opportunity to discuss specific operational matters with the commissioner that the Minister of Police won't go into. 

"We are really disappointed at the way we have been treated through this whole process. We have been putting pressure on this Government and the Minister of Police about the racial profiling of Māori and the way we are treated within the system," the MP said.

"Today is a prime example of how Māori are actually treated in the police system where the commissioner hasn't turned up when he said he will turn up."

The Māori Party expressed concern last week about police's handling of complaints about a video making threats towards the party and Māori people in general. A man was later arrested after an investigation into a video.