An Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) investigation is underway over how police handled the case of missing Tolaga Bay mother Jamie Kaiwai.
Kaiwai went missing on the morning of Thursday, October 10, 2019. An initial police investigation found her disappearance was ‘not considered suspicious’.
Three days after the 27-year-old went missing Māori wardens found her car at the Tolaga Bay wharf during Tuia 250 commemorations. The vehicle had been left unlocked with the keys still inside, and damp clothes with blood on them were also discovered.
Blood was also discovered in her room at the Tolaga Bay Inn.
Whānau say police attributed her disappearance to mental health troubles and cannabis use
However, Kaiwai's cousin, Jonique Oli-Alainuuese, who lodged the (IPCA) complaint says the investigation was inadequate.
“In the process of letting Jamie down, they [police] booted our whānau in the puku”, Oli-Alainuuese says.
Kaiwai's whānau believe she did not take her own life and want answers.
Te Ao Māori News was told by police there was inconsistent information gathered at the time, so search operations were underway.
Oli-Alainuuese says she was shocked that there were not any forensics or fingerprints taken by the police during the investigation.
Gisborne Police Detective Sergeant Daniel Kirk accepted at the time there were unanswered questions.
Oli-Alainuuese says she hopes the IPCA investigation will be a fair process, although whānau are yet to be told who is leading it.
“That is still a murky water for us to navigate and I hope that this can encourage other whānau to not be afraid to question what comes back.”
A Givealittle 'Justice for Jamie Kaiwai' campaign has raised over $50,000 that will go towards an investigation separate from the IPCA review.
Oli-Alainuuese says the public have been overwhelmingly supportive, with some who have questions about their own missing whānau grateful for a deeper understanding of the IPCA process.
“I just hope whānau can take something positive away from this, even as tragic as it is, know that they too can navigate their situation and their loved ones this way.”
Te Ao Māori News has reached out to the IPCA for comment.