The Sunday Star-Times’s predictably unbalanced vilification of Titford:
no mention of his evidence against the state and Te Roroa
Former Hawkes Bay Herald-Tribune sub-editor Mike Butler, a meticulous seeker of facts, has sent the following email to Sunday Star-Times reporter Simon Day, author of the central panel of the above story from last Sunday.
The story (see link below) is predictably one-sided, and attempts to lull gullible readers into believing that because Titford has been put away for crimes against people and property, his evidence against the state and Te Roroa can be safely ignored.
Note Mike Butler’s account of recent harassment and death threats against those who speak out against the tribe.
I met you in Waitangi on February 5 this year. I was with John Ansell and sat in on the interview when we were kicked out of the Te Tii marae.
I researched the Allan Titford saga for the report at
I have some comments on your “Bittersweet vindication for iwi” story at
You wrote: “Last week the truth about Titford was exposed in the Whangarei District Court when he was sentenced to 24 years in prison for 39 charges including assault, sexual violation, arson and fraud.”
He certainly was sentenced to that time on those charges, but how accurate are the charges and what is the supporting evidence?
Attached is the list of charges that Titford faced. It is under a letter from Simon Power to Susan “Kakarana” (yes, you guessed it, Cochrane) on the subject of perjury and how to avoid being charged for committing it.
Look at the rape charges.
The charges allege three of sexual violation by rape — one on a day uncertain in the months of September and December 1987 at Dargaville, another on a day uncertain in 2008 at Kaitaia, and another on or about July 7, 2009, at Kaitaia.
With such vagueness on the dates, was Titford convicted of three charges of rape, or one, and if so, what evidence supported these allegations?
You will see that that one charge alleges that the Titfords in January 19, 1989, attempted a wool bales insurance claim.
A report by Detective Constable G.C. Smith, dated November 11, 1988, records a complaint by Titford of an attempted arson of his house on October 19, 1988, and notes that Titford had no insurance cover.
I would be very interested to see if Titford was convicted of attempted insurance fraud at a time when he had no insurance.
You wrote that it was found he had burnt down his own home in 1992, but had blamed it on local Maori to increase his claim to compensation from the government”.
You go on to say that “Te Roroa Maori hope this is a chance for their story to be told and the claims of harassment, terrorism, and sabotage exposed as lies”.
Are claims of harassment, terrorism, and sabotage actually lies?
You should ask Moengaroa Murray whether:
- On August 7, 1987, squatters moved on to the beach part of the section in force and erected signs to frighten away any prospective buyers.
- On August 16, 1987, Hughie Te Rore and Huia White told Titford that if he gave them the land they would drop their tribunal claim.
- On December 5, 1987, at 1.15pm, Hughie Te Rore and Huia White arrived at the house and said that if Titford removed the buildings used by squatters they would take revenge within 24 hours and it would be nationwide news. (A vacant house on Titford’s property was burned down in the early hours of the next morning. Sue Cochrane said Titford did it.)
- On January 12, 1988, a group of claimants in a green Toyota Corona shot stock in Titford’s paddock. On that date, claimants also arranged for the Historic Places Trust to come in and make the site a sacred area.
- On January 20, 1988, claimants erected a large carved pole on Titford’s land. Local councillors, local non-Maori, Maori Marsden, and TVNZ reporters attended and dined on sheep slaughtered from Titford’s flock without Titford knowing.
- On March 22, 1988, claimant Hugh Te Rore had Conservation Department archaeologist Leigh Johnson (Mr) visit Titford’s farm. Johnson told Titford he had permission to be there from landowner Hugh Te Rore. Johnson also told Titford that the area was from then on wahi tapu and a reserve.
I would like to know whether Moengaroa Murray thinks these are all lies.
Just ask her the questions and see what she says and compare her reaction with those of other people you have interviewed.
If these are not lies, then the statement “claims of harassment, terrorism, and sabotage exposed as lies” is an untrue statement.
Thank you for talking to Don Harrison.
His story shows that Titford was not alone in facing harassment and pressure to sell. Other farmers north of Titford and Harrison were also forced to sell.
The Titford saga did not start out as an anti-treaty white sticking it to obstreperous Maoris.
It started out with Titford’s plan to become debt-free by developing a subdivision on his own land that was derailed by claimants who believed they had rights to that land.
Titford had a two-year mortgage at commercial rates in the late 1980s dependent upon subdividing and selling coastal sections within two years.
Claimant protest and interference prevented him from completing that project.
Titford could not afford to sell at the level Harrison sold for because he would be left with a substantial debt with no means of repaying it.
He tried solving the problem by negotiating with the government and by doing a deal with the bank to get another farm elsewhere, but he was strung along by the government and ripped off by the bank.
The final sale and purchase agreement had a clause in which he agreed not to sue the National Bank.
By 1995, when Titford finally had to sell or be sold up by the bank, he had accrued a debt to the bank of $2.2m.
Today I fielded two abusive phone calls.
Another colleague was similarly abused, and yet another had a death threat.
If this is bittersweet vindication for iwi, they have an unusual way of expressing it.