Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, September 01, 2008

Operation 8 hearings start

The deposition hearing for the Operation 8 defendants started in Auckland today.

18 people including Tuhoe activist Tame iti face a range of firearms charges relating to several camps in the Urewera ranges during 2007.

They were arrested in dramatic police raids in Ruatoki, Wellington, Whakatane and other centres last October.

At the start of the morning, Auckland District Court was ringed by police with long batons, glowering at small groups of protesters on the street outside.

By the first break most of the police, and the metal detector in the foyer, were gone.

Courtroom 8 seems to have been chosen for language rather than logistics – it was too small for the families of the Operation 8 defendants and all of the media who wanted to attend, and the back row of lawyers – all but one of the 18 defendants have at least one – complained they could not hear Judge Mark Perkins.

The first order of business was to read the charges – up to 27 in the case of Tame Iti, all alleging possession of particular firearms on dates in January, June, September and October 2007.

After five excruciating minutes of the registrar stumbling through the Maori names on the first few charge sheets, lawyers pointed out the wrong sheets were being read, and the judge adjourned for a long lunch while the mess was being sorted out.

The depositions hearing has been set down for four weeks.


Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia has strongly criticised the Police adoption of Tasers without proper consultation with Maori.

She says it is outrageous that Police Commissioner Howard Broad made the decision to introduce Tasers without properly consulting Maori when 56 percent of those Tasered during trials were Maori.

“He's already got a reputation after the Tuhoe raids. One would have thought this man may have seen this as an opportunity to work with the Maori community to do the right thing rather than continue to go over the top and not give any consideration to the impact this is going to have,” Mrs Turia says.


Rangatahi should be aware of the importance of their voice in the coming general election.

The Maori answer to 'Rock the Vote' kicks off next month with a series of concerts called Maori Side Tour heading to areas where most Maori live.

Starting in Rotorua the message is 'Enrol Maori, Vote Maori'.

Organiser Whenua Harawira says voting is important, but awareness is the key.

“When we first sat down, we talked about what are the key issues for young people, so a lot of people have been asking us ‘when we get there, do we have to vote?’ No you don’t have to vote. It’s about raising awareness. It’s about letting our people make informed decisions about our future,” Ms Harawira says.

Sons of Zion, DJ Poroufessor and House of Shem are a few acts to take to the stage.


There’s been a slow start to hearings on whether anyone should stand trial on charges arising from Operation 8, last year’s police surveillance of alleged terrorist training camps in the Urewera ranges.

Police put on a major show of security at the Auckland District Court.

Police with longs batons were posted around the courthouse, outnumbering the 18 defendants gathered inside and the small groups of people protesting in support outside.

People going into the court had to go through a metal detector, and one row of seating in the court was left empty … for security reasons, according to Judge Mark Perkins.

The Solicitor General last year ruled against terrorism charges, so the police are trying to make multiple firearms cases against the defendants, a mixture of Maori and Pakeha, young and old.

The defendants stood one at a time to hear a long list of charges read against them.
The rest of them sat slumped in their seats, conserving their energy for what will be four weeks of hearings.

Their lawyers, who only got the updated charges today, say it’s impossible to tell from the charges what the thrust of the case will be – they hope the prosecution’s opening address tomorrow will clarify the situation.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says while there is a general mood among iwi to get treaty settlements finished, there are others who only find they have unsettled grievances through engaging with the Crown and their iwi.

She says the assumption for the Crown is that all potential claims will be washed up in the iwi settlements process.

“That may not be so and what I’m worried about is everybody at least has the opportunity to have their grievances heard and settled. That’s the important thing and we’ve been encouraging people even just to write a letter. They’ve got until midnight and that’s what they should do,” Mrs Turia says.

The Office of Treaty Settlements has been flooded with claims over the past week with midnight being the deadline for historical Treaty of Waitangi claims to be lodged.


The Minister of Maori Affairs says this morning's launch of a comprehensive Maori dictionary that has taken over a decade to compile is a welcome resource for the revitalisation of te reo Maori.

The MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti was joined by many of the country's senior Maori orators for the launch at Te Papa, of the monolingual dictionary coincidentally called, Te Papa Kupu.

Parekura Horomia says the compilation has taken a long time but was worth the wait.

“It has 24,000 words, biggest dictionary in the Maori language ever, Mr Horomia says.


Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia denies media suggestions the party is edging closer towards National than Labour.

She says the party has always been really clear that it will go back to its constituents post-election to get a direction of what they should do.

“But we are not edging towards National or Labour. We have always been very clear we’ve got a set of policies that are the aspirations of our people and that’s what we will put on the table,” Mrs Turia says.


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