THE walls, furniture, clothing and towels at Rhys Warren’s family home are tainted with physical reminders of the 22-hour Onepu siege.
Stickers cover the walls representing the bullets fired during the incident on March 9, 2016, when four police officers were wounded. The walls have been replaced but bullet damage to furniture, clothing and towels remains in place.
It provides Warren’s mother, Te Araroa Wetini, with a daily reminder of what her son and family home went through and reinforces her belief that it could have been prevented.
To make sense of the incident – what led to the 22-hour siege, the gunshots fired and what occurred in the homestead – folders of evidence fill large containers in the home.
Mrs Wetini said she had found discrepancies in public documents and believed police never had a priority of prevention.
She said she had also discovered untrue details and misinformation in disclosure documents – opinions based on the multiple folders of disclosure documents and the physical evidence she saw when she entered her home following the incident.
“I’ve maintained it this whole time, [police] should not have gone into the house.”
An internal police report, obtained by the New Zealand Herald via the Official Information Act, revealed the Onepu siege was the biggest shootout in New Zealand’s history with 46 shots fired and a chain of mistakes which saw the Armed Offender Squad raid the house instead of using tear gas or dogs.
Mrs Wetini said the report stated what she has always alluded to; the incident did not have to happen – police made a mistake, should have stayed out of the house and not allowed an untrained AOS person to take command.
The damage done to the house had traumatised an entire family, she said.
The home at 158 Onepu Springs Road was built by Mrs Wetini’s parents in 1959. It was home to Mrs Wetini and her seven siblings and had sentimental value to them all and the generations that followed.
Their father died when he was 28, when their mother was pregnant with their eighth child.
“We have all been traumatised by what has happened; we are all new to this.
“This is foreign and doesn’t happen to my family.”
Mrs Wetini said the family were victims too, not the stereotypical people, people made comments about.
“This has never been an alcohol, party, gang or drugs house.
People say we are going to go buy a box and get pissed, but that isn’t who we are.”
Mrs Wetini said the full story hadn’t been portrayed to the public.
“But we are just as traumatised as those who were shot.”
Warren was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder, three charges of firing at a police officer and one charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at a jury trial in March.