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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, November 01, 2007

English skeptical on terror charges

National's deputy leader says New Zealanders don't want to believe there is domestic terrorism.

Bill English says people are waiting to see whether the way the police went about rounding up Tuhoe activist Tame Iti and 16 others last month will be justified by the seriousness of the charges.

He says the police have a substantial hurdle to overcome in public perception.

“New Zealanders don't want to believe there could be domestic terrorism. It’s not the sort of country where that happens. We’ve had our tensions in the past but it’s not a word New Zealanders would associate with out own internal arguments over sovereignty or whatever it is, or political differences. And I’m among those people. I don’t want to believe anything too serious has gone on here, and I hope it hasn't,” Mr English says.

Those arrested were called over in the Auckland District Court today.
For the Crown, lawyer Ross Burns told the court the Solicitor General has been asked whether 12 of the 17 should face terrorism charges.

If they do, there will need to be two trials because evidence collected by surveillance for the terrorism charges cannot be used for the Firearms Act charges they also face.

Judge Patrick Treston lifted name suppression on Ira Bailey, the identical twin brother of another of the accused, Rongomai Bailey, and granted him bail.

Name suppression was also lifted from Moana Hemi Winitana.

There will be another callover on December the third.

Tame Iti will be back in the High Court in Rotorua next Wednesday to appeal an earlier refusal to grant him bail.

PAPAMOA LANDOWNERS EYE RETIREMENT EARNINGS

Maori landowners near Tauranga are taking the leap from farming to property development.

Mangatawa Papamoa Blocks Incorporation is joining with Christchurch developer Retirement Assets Limited to build a $120 million dollar retirement village on land between Papamoa Beach Rd and State Highway 2.

Chairperson Kevin Haua says the Pacific Coast Village will have 250 villa and multi-storey apartments, a cinema, Internet cafe, sports facilities, restaurant, and a sports bar.

The land will be leased for 99 years.

He says it will give Mangatawa shareholders a steadier income.

“This is a very valuable piece of land right on the ocean front at Papamoa. Its current value is about $1 million a hectare, so what we were getting back off that 50 hectares was about $16,000 a year in rentals, so us as trustees, we have a duty to get the best out of the land, so we shopped around for a joint venture partner and we come across RAL,” Mr Haua says.

Building could start in January if planning approval is granted.

CANCER LINK HIGHLIGHTS FAT FEARS

The Public Health Association is drawing the link between Maori and a new study showing the relationship between obesity and cancer.

The report by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research identified obesity and inactivity as clear risk factors for cancer.

Gay Keating, the PHA's director, says the Ministry of Health has reported a disproportionate number of Maori are overweight.
She says the problem is made worse by poverty.

“Buying fruit and veg to fill up and get all those good nutrients that protect you from cancer is more expensive than fast foods, white bread, cereals that fill you up, and this puts people that are lower income, and that includes a huge number of Maori families at greater risk,” Dr Keating says.

TERROR TAG TWISTING COURT TIKANGA

The use of the word terrorism is having a disturbing effect of the court process.

That's the view of David Williams, the deputy dean of Auckland University's law school.

Some of the 17 Maori and environmental activists arrested last month on firearms charges were called over at the Auckland district Court today.

All but four of them have been referred to the solicitor general on whether they should also face terrorism charges.

Professor Williams says the defendants are facing extraordinary hurdles to proving their innocence.

“Judges are reluctant to give bail, or they only give bail on certain very restrictive conditions and all sorts of normal rules that would apply if you were charged under the Arms Act or failure to have a license or whatever it is, those rules somehow become huge matters of state security,” Dr Williams says.

If the Terrorism Suppression Act had existed during the 1981 Springbok Tour, protesters who blocked motorways would have faced trial as terrorists.

STRONG CABINET PRESENCE NOTED

The new Cabinet line-up has the strongest ever representation of Maori.

The Minister for Maori Affairs, Parekura Horomia, went up two places to number 7, Nanaia Mahuta went from 19th to 14th and picked up the Local Government portfolio, and Shane Jones came in at number 20.

Mr Horomia says the collective nature of cabinet means the trio will have a significant impact on policy for Maori.

“What you now have is three ministers who have influence, and you have to look at the associate roles. I’m the associate minister of education, the associate of fisheries, the associate of state services, and the associate with the employment and training delegations. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out how influential those positions are,” Mr Horomia says.

FLAX TROVE SUBJECT OF STUDY

An Australian researcher is trying to discover the origins of a collection of rare harakeke and wharariki in the Dunedin Botanic Garden.

Bronwyn Lowe has received a $100,000 Te Tipu Putaiao fellowship from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology for the work.

Dr Lowe, who works in clothing and textile sciences at the University of Otago, is working with a team of Ngai Tahu weavers to find out where the 60 South Island cultivars originally grew and what are their botanic and weaving properties.

“That gives a resource then that’s available for weavers locally. They can say ‘ah, that’s the one. It would be really good to get a lot of really nice muka, really nice fibre from that one, whereas that one over there is better for kete because it’s not easy to extract the fibre from it,’” she says.

Long term, the project could lead to the establishment of another plantation of the Dunedin Harakeke cultivars for use by weavers.

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