Justice for Tuhoe

28/05/2013

By Willie Jackson

Finally the New Zealand police have rightfully been criticised for their illegal actions against the Tuhoe people in Ruatoki.

This week's independent police findings said that the police actions were illegal when they set up road blocks and interrogated Ruatoki Maori in 2007. This was at last some acknowledgement of the disgraceful behaviour from the police.

I will never forget the response from this country's mainstream media and most of the public who shamefully supported the actions of a police force that had violated the human rights of Maori.

Just in case you've forgotten, the police at the time decided that their No 1 terrorism suspect Tame Iti and his band of merry men were about to take Osama bin Laden actions against politicians and Pakeha society.

They, in all their wisdom, felt they could not hold back and arrested Tame at gunpoint.

They then thought it was in the best interests of the country that they should interrogate anyone who knew Tame or was related to him.

So for the second time in the history of this country the government and forces of the state combined and terrorised a Maori settlement, Parihaka, in 1881 and Ruatoki in 2007.

It was an action from the police that many Maori felt was racist.

In fact lawyer Peter Williams QC, who has been representing Ruatoki people, said: "It was an example of institutional racism and total police arrogance."

He said: "The police would never take the same action against a Pakeha township because they would be nervous of the backlash."

Peter Williams is right.

For example the police didn't interrogate the Aro Valley when they raided terrorist suspects in Aro St in Wellington at the same time.

And I couldn't imagine them treating Remuera residents the way they treated Ruatoki people.

The police were acutely aware of public opinion and I sincerely believe had the view that no-one really cared about the rights of a couple of hundred broken-down Maori who were Tame Iti's relations.

Now the government and police should give a proper apology instead of the half-baked nonsensical apology that police commissioner Peter Marshall gave.

His response, along with that of Police Minister Ann Tolley who is satisfied with the police response to the report, is an insult to the people of Ruatoki and is proof that the police still believe their actions back in 2007 were valid.

Apparently John Key is thinking about a government apology and he should give that serious consideration.

It wasn't his government that backed the raid on Ruatoki - it was a Labour government which disgracefully gave the green light.

Mr Key has a good relationship with Tuhoe.

He should now do the right thing and give the people of Ruatoki a proper and overdue apology.

Auckland Now, 28th May 2013

source: data archive