A sad and sorry end to a Tragic Raid- Hone speaks

Hone Harawira, MANA Leader
Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

Mr Speaker – four years ago armed offenders stormed the homes of innocent families, broke down doors, smashed windows, overturned furniture, forced people to their knees in front of their children, refused them access to water and even the right to go to the toilet, degraded and dehumanised civilians, set up armed barricades and stopped traffic, boarded köhanga reo busses and scared the crap out of little kids … and gave Tuhoe another reason to hate the forces of the state.

That exercise in police terror carried out on October 15 2007, led to people all over the country being charged with terrorism, amidst heightened global concerns of terrorist activity, and created within the wider society of New Zealand an instant and unreal fear of the kinds of images we had been barraged with on mainstream TV.

And although those charges were very quickly thrown out, the state simply had to follow through with new charges because they’d been already running their campaign for more than 12 months, they’d gone in fully armed and under the full glare of the media, they’d made a public commitment to the most serious charges in the history of our nation, and they simply had to justify their involvement in what turned out to be an extremely violent operation.

That operation only came to an end yesterday with a decision which should have been about the triumph of justice, but wasn’t. All it was, was a sad and sorry end to a tragic raid into the heartland of the Tuhoe.

For after all the drama, the high expectation and the grainy videos, yesterday the jury could only return verdicts on firearms charges. That’s all we got after a four year campaign that cost the taxpayer millions and millions of dollars, divided the nation, and gave people genuine reason to fear their own police force.

Today, the day after the case ended, justice is still denied to the people of Tuhoe.
Today we remember those who died with a cloud of doubt hanging over them and their families, and who will never now, get the chance to refute the allegations made against them.
Today we recall the statement made by one of the defence lawyers who said that the crown case could best be summed up with the simple words “Maori plus guns equal crime”
Today we can still feel the deep-seated racism that not only exists, but flourishes within critical agencies of the state.
Today Mr Speaker, the hearings may finally be over for the Urewera 4, but not for the people of Tuhoe.

There has been no apology, there has been no compensation, there has been no public acknowledgement of the need for change in policeoperations or for new engagement policies as a result of the litany of errors we now know as Operation 8; and we know that because just last month the armed offenders went back into Tuhoe, smashed up somebody’s house, terrorised the inhabitants … and got nobody.

Today I am proud to say that MANA will stand alongside those in our society who reject tyranny, and stand against those who would use the Terrorism Suppression Act and the Search and Surveillance Bill to crush independent thinking, to force us to fear what we say and to hide what we do, and to stop us from choosing freedom over oppression.

Today Mr Speaker I salute Tame Iti and his comrades for their dignity, for their courage, for their passion and for their love for this land.

And tomorrow, I pray for an end to the kind of blind police operation developed in a silo of ignorance and fear that we saw in Tuhoe, and look forward to a time when local issues can be handled with a modicum of intelligence, a minimum of fuss, a measure of goodwill, and the realisation that brutalising communities in the defence of justice leads not justice, but the growth of injustice, disharmony, and righteous anger.

Tena koutou katoa


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