While the Australian papers were largely concerned with boring tax cuts this morning, their counterparts across the ditch were concerned with far more explosive matters. Around 300 NZ police were involved in simultaneous raids across the country targeting Maori, environmental and peace activists, who the police allege had been taking part in “terrorist training camps.”
A New Zealand anarchist and friend of many of the accused spoke to Crikey this morning:
C: Do the allegations have any basis in fact?
A: At this stage, the only facts that are clear are those of state repression, of masked and black-clad fully armed police officers searching a school bus full of children at gunpoint, of a community that has borne a huge amount of hardship at the hands of the state being further victimised. The police have made a lot of allegations, both directly and through leaks to the media, but have yet to back any of it with even the slightest semblance of fact.
C: I’ve seen reports, in The Age for example, that they’ve actually seized weapons, however other reports say that they were just looking for this material. Are you aware as to whether they have actually found anything?
A: As far as I understand it, those who have been charged have been charged with possession of arms and ammunition at some point in the past – ie, they had none of it on them when they were arrested. In other words, the police are alleging that these people, at some point that they haven’t stated, used weapons illegally in a manner which they also haven’t stated. What is clear is that many of the 300+ police who carried out raids, arrests and searches yesterday were armed to the teeth, which should be no surprise from the biggest and most powerful gang in Aotearoa.
C: You were visited by the police on Monday morning. What happened?
A: The raids started in Ruatoki at 4am, at the house of well-known Tino Rangatiratanga activist Tame Iti. I was woken up by a text message telling me that an activist community house in Wellington had been raided and two friends of mine had been arrested. I jumped on the computer to check the news, and soon after there was a knock at my door. I opened it to find four police officers, all in plain-clothes but wearing police vests over the top. One of the officers showed me his ID, at which point I asked him if he had a warrant. He did not reply, and instead asked me if a certain person was in my house. I asked again if he had a warrant, and when he said that they didn’t, I told them to leave the property, and closed the door. I watched them through a window, and quickly realised they weren’t leaving, and were in fact walking around the outside of my house and through my backyard. I opened the door again, and informed them that as the legal occupier of the property, I was demanding they leave immediately under the Trespass Act. They refused to leave, and demanded I prove I was the occupier, or else they would stay. My flatmate soon produced our lease form, which I showed them. They wrote down our names, I told them again to leave, and shortly afterwards they did so.
C: Were they visibly armed?
A: Other than batons, the police who came to our house didn’t appear to be armed, unlike many of the police involved in other raids.
C: But what if you had been armed to the teeth?
A: I think that just goes to show how ludicrous these trumped up charges are. At the Wellington activist community centre, while police were supposedly searching the house for weapons, they simultaneously had no issue with residents using huge kitchen knives to cut up apples and make apple pie. Likewise, this morning we have already seen Jamie Lockett, one of the arrestees in Auckland, released on bail. None of this seems to fit the picture of a dangerous terrorist network! And while the police found no weapons at the Wellington activist community centre, they did confiscate a backpack containing carrots and an avocado!
C: Did the carrots and avocado have any explosive properties?
A: The police returned them later in the day, so one assumes not.