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April 21, 2008 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Protests Galore!

Between the 10th and 12th of April, Wellington experienced three notable protest actions: a $10 billion student debt day march on the Thursday, a pro-cannabis smokeup on parliament lawn on the Friday, and anti-Labour party protests outside the town hall on Saturday. These protests can be categorized as gold, frankincense and meh: gold for the debt march, frankincense for the smokeup, and meh for the anti-Labour protest (since it involved too many issues to be neatly summed up by one pithy word).

While I am a biased observer (as I support, to some degree, all three protests), nevertheless it’s worth asking whether these protests actually achieved anything other than presenting us with a bit of fun street theatre to watch. Is protesting really effective in this day and age?

Helen Clark boasts of having taken part in anti-Vietnam War and anti-Springbok Tour protests, and in February 2003 dismissed anti-Iraq War protests as relatively small, implying that, because she has done all this before (and ‘better’ than those doing it now), protests against her government are perfectly acceptable, harmless – and passé. People tell me time and again that protesting is now so predictable that it is little more than street theatre.

If we look at the three notable protests that occurred in central Wellington between the 10th and 12th of April, we can easily see many routines that have been well-rehearsed: protestors and the police have fine-tuned their responses to one-another so well that this all seems like some game, played out for the benefit of the media, whose representatives like myself run around flashing cameras and writing it all up. In a way, this all sounds much like a candidates debate: organized and played out as a spectacle. But what makes protesting worthwhile is that this is a candidates debate where anyone gets to speak, provided they shout loud enough. As long as you can be innovative and daring enough to actually get a bit of spotlight, you can make your voice heard.

I’m going to run through the three recent protests looking at the tactics used by the participants and targets of the demonstrations, so that we can ask whether these tactics are in fact effective. Do they get their point across? Do they end up aggravating those they want to educate?

Gold Protest: Student Debt

At 1pm on Thursday 10 April, student politicians met in Victoria’s quad with banners to begin a march down to parliament, to protest the fact that student debt had reached $10 billion, waving Unite Union, Labour and Workers’ Party banners along with anti-student-debt placards. VUWSA Executive members (from left to right) Sonny Thomas, Seamus Brady, William Wu, Alexander Neilson and Rev. Paul Danger Brown can be seen leading the march down the Terrace (above).

The protest stopped outside Vic House to chant “join us” while Sonny and Pres. Joel Cosgrove rallied the troops:

As they moved off the terrace, the protest chanted a catchy and effective ditty based upon the Song That Never Ends:

“This is the debt that never ends
Yes it goes on and on my friends
Some people, started borrowing not knowing what it was
And they’ll continue borrowing forever just because…”

Unfortunately, the protestors also chanted:

“What do we want?
Free education!
When do we want it?

I say unfortunately because many of those on the march are not so greedy that they demand free education. We understand that we gain from our education, and do not mind contributing towards the cost of learning. The protest was intended to focus on the demand for universal student allowance, as given that studying is a full-time job, and given that the unemployed are not expected to pay back the cost of their living, we believe that we should not have to, either. However, this legitimate demand was drowned out by the call for free education, which made the protest seem like a bunch of greedy kids, and the call “People of Wellington, join us!” was lost. However, we did manage to get in a nice bit of swearing:

“2468 what don’t we appreciate?
Student loans, student loans, stupid fucking student loans.”

Anyway, we were joined by Massey University students on Willis st; their MAWSA executive brought along convict uniforms, which MAWSA president Alex and VUWSA president Joel donned. From this point onward, MAWSA’s Alex began leading the protest from behind a megaphone; we picked up some more supporters and a police escort on Lambton Quay, before arriving at Parliament.

When we collected in front of Parliament steps, Whitireia Polytech had set up a rock band (with poodle hair, Led Zep shirts, sweat stains and everything esle) to welcome us, which was fucking sweet.

Alex, Joel and NZUSA rep Liz Hawes then addressed the crowd. Green MP Metiria Turei, and NZ First MP Dail Jones, both long-time universal student allowance advocates, turned up to speak, but after Joel conferred with them he decided that this protest was “not about the politicians” and we marched off, although he stopped to be interviewed by a TV camera and some fellow Workers’ Party supporters brought their banner up behind him.

We then marched back down Lambton Quay to Midland park, where we were met by a heckler (in the purple shirt and white hat) and the police talked with Massey students who had brought a student in stocks on the back of a ute. The police didn’t seem to mind too much, though, and left after making their presence known.

Personally, I felt that the best thing about this protest was that it brought together students from all of Wellington’s tertiary education providers. In particular, Vic, Massey and Whitireia all made striking contributions (especially Whitireia with the rock band). While Vic tends to dominate these events, being the most political of the schools, Massey’s leaders were just as vocal. So the protest achieved a solidarity that we need if we’re going to make education affordable.

Did the demand for “free education” make the protest seem greedy and drive away support? Would we have been better off demanding simply a universal student allowance, which was what the protest was supposed to be about, after all?

Was it rude and naïve of Joel to deny Metiria and Dail the right to speak to us (as my colleagues Conrad and Jackson have previously argued)? Granted, his desire to stop politicians from dominating the event to serve their own parties may be honourable. However, both NZ First and the Greens have long been supporters of a universal student allowance; Labour and the Workers’ Party supporters were allowed to bring obviously-partisan banners (in that Labour supporters waved banners blaming National for the debt); and, perhaps most importantly, both the bulk of the protestors and the MPs expected the MPs to speak. Had the protest leaders told us from the start that the MPs would not speak, we could have avoided appearing to be rudely snubbing Dail and Metiria. Would allowing the MPs to speak have attracted more press attention, and would this have been a good thing? As it turned out, the Dom Post only gave us a small mention with no pics.

Frankincense Protest: Legalize Marijuana

A day after the debt march, Maryjane the Cannabus visited Wellington. That morning, while parked in town, a policeman had come to demand that her drivers move as they were taking up three parking spaces. The officer saw the bus’s navigator Conan, a marijuana plant sitting on the dashboard, but remarked to the drivers “yeah… I’m gonna ignore that.” In the afternoon, she drove around town inviting folk to a 4:20 smokeup on parliament lawn.

After waiting for a film crew to finish shooting around parliament, the NORML activists set up a prohibition-free zone on the lawn. This would be the third marijuana smoke-up on parliament grounds that I am aware of (though I assume there have been many more secretive ones): in 1996 several ALCP/NORML members were arrested (though charges were eventually dismissed) after a similar parliament lawn protest, and the next year Young ACT members smoked up on the steps after the VSM bill passed [note the 1996 incident is not reported on the interwebs and was reported to me first-hand, but don’t quote me on the date].

NORML’s Dakta Green spoke to the crowd, explaining that prohibition only increases any damage caused by cannabis, as it drives users underground, discourages addicts from seeking help, and criminalizes half our nation (sorry I can’t resist proselytizing). He stood next to the giant hookah that had been returned from the police sans its tubes, so is now no more than ornamental.

We smoked pot, including a ball (made out of roaches and resin) that was passed around, until the police decided that we’d had enough time to smoke and asked us if we could stop. Well, Dakta asked us on the police’s behalf, but pointed out that he did not personally intended to stop just then. So the cops came over and talked to us, telling us they didn’t want to make any arrests but we had to desist shortly. Since we didn’t want to be arrested, we did, although Strypey (who being a self-professed ‘media whore’ had been smoking in front of the Dom Post’s camera) followed the officer around, berating him while wearing a monkey mask.

The protest was a lot of fun, and got more media attention that the debt march, but would arrests have made it more effective? The TV3 people told us only arrests would have made it a worthwhile story, and wasn’t the whole point to get media coverage?

Meh Protest: Anti-Labour Party Demonstration

At midday on Saturday 12 April, a group of protestors gathered at Te Aro Park to prepare to demonstrate outside the Labour Party conference. The protestors included a group of Tuhoe activists who had traveled to Wellington for the event, along with a Workers Party contingent. The largest bulk of the group came from the anarchist community which is based around the128 Abel Smith Street community house, and most of the protest was focused on opposing the Labour Party’s passing the Terrorism Suppression Act, used to arrest a number of activists from both Tuhoe and the anarchist community. Other focuses of the protest were against Genetically Engineered crops, the Foreshore and Seabed Act, the Electoral Finance Act, and Solid Energy’s mining of Happy Valley.

Part of the Te Aro Park preparations including practice of the ‘drop and lock’ technique that Peace Action Wellington have been using for several years. Whenever the police attempt to move protestors, they link arms and drop to the ground, forming an immovable human barrier.

The protest moved off down Willis street, banners waving.

This photograph has two explanations. Either a bus got stuck behind the protest as it moved along Manners Street, or the driver just really wanted to join in but couldn’t get the time off work.

This wheelie bin has a circle of holes cut in the front and contains a speaker. The anarchist community have been using it to create noise during protests. The bin appears to have eaten the mid-90s, as it belts out Rage Against the Machine. Noise would become the protest’s major feature: demonstrators wanted to disrupt the protest, but avoided violent means. Besides the mid-90s wheelie bin, they banged upon bass drums with wooden spoons (all of which broke over the course of several hours), and played feedback on a megaphone by holding the mouth-piece over the noise-producing end. Surprisingly, this did not seem to bother the infants who attended the protest.

When the protest arrived outside the Town Hall, where the conference was taking place, it was greeted by a mass of cameramen, many of whom had walked backwards in front of the march to capture its motion. While myself and other non-respectable media persons captured the demonstration from behind the protestors, the mainstream media line up with the Labourites behind police lines – you can see their cameras poking out on the right:

The protest was also greeted upon arrival by a group of anti-EFA protestors. Whereas the demonstrators were largely attacking Labour from the left, these guys were attacking from the right. However, this did not prevent the two groups from working together: Mike Heine, a member of the A-Team who contested VUWSA’s elections last year on a vaguely libertarian ticket, even joined the march and wore a communist star hat (right). One of the anti-EFA protestors had a US flag, which he waved behind the barricades – between a Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe flag and a Tino Rangatiratanga flag, which makes for a beautiful image of anti-centrist solidarity (below).

Numerous VUWSA luminaries attended the protest: International Officer William Wu and A-Team leader Lukas Schroeter congregated at the back, underneath the Michael Fowler Centre (above right), while Young Labourites Sonny Thomas (Campaigns Officer) and Seamus Brady (Education Officer B) passed police barricades to attend the conference (above left). President Joel Cosgrove manned the barricades with a Workers’ Party banner, and got into a political argument with Clubs Officer and Labourite Katie de Roo (below).

On the right you can see protestors and police face-off at the Civic Square end of the barricade. At one point, the police and protestors pushed against the barricade until it began to collapse; the protestors then put their ‘drop and lock’ technique into practice, and the police backed off.

After over an hour of continuous noise-making, the protestors began to move off. However, a small number crept into the conference (I believe via the Civic Square entrance), and set off a fire alarm. The Labour Party then had to clear the Town Hall and stand outside among the protestors.

During the 45-minute fire-alarm induced break in proceedings, a number of scuffles broke out – but exactly what happened depends upon who you listen to. NZPA reported on Saturday night that Michael Cullen and Mark Burton “combined to protect an elderly delegate from the melee”; the following day the Sunday Star Times printed a photo of protestor Valerie Morse spitting, and said her spit her Phil Goff; Young Labour told me that Winnie Laban was involved in a scuffle.

While I have good reasons for not believing exactly what the mainstream media reported regarding the protest (explained below), most of the above incidents probably occurred, although the ‘violence’ of the protestors is generally over-stated in reports. I personally witnessed one scuffle, where a protestor in overalls was surrounded by shouting Labour Party supporters after crossing into their midst to berate them, as you can see above.

Once the demonstration ended, a number of protestors marched back up to Abel Smith Street to a ‘reclaim the streets’ party. When I arrived at around 4pm, the police had just got there, and promptly moved several couches off the street. From then on it was a ‘reclaim the pavement’ party. The police continued to drive along the bypass, putting their sirens on as they passed the party, and eventually calling the fire brigade in to put out one of the party’s two drum fires. At around midnight, as revellers were chowing down on Food Not Bombs goodies and trancing out to some electronica, two police cars and a paddy-wagon drove up behind the party, and marched in with a noise control officer who turned the stereo off. My friend R pointed at one of the officers, identifying him as one of the group who had raided his flat party a couple of weeks back and beaten up his flatmate. Indymedia has claims the officers were “Sergeant Andre (Andrzej) Kowalczyk and 10 members of the Strategic Response Group (SRG)”, the group which is used to blockade protests and raid squat parties. After the sound was turned back on, the police returned to confiscate the sound equipment and subsequently charge $100 for its return (while my report is based on personal recollections, another account can be found at Indymedia Aotearoa).

Did the anti-Labour Party protests do more harm than good for their cause, by alienating Labour Party members who may be sympathetic to their criticisms? The Terrorism Suppression Act is a terrible law, because it criminalises thought. Terror crimes, such as bombing, are illegal under the crimes act, as are conspiracies to commit such acts. The TSA simply creates a new category of crime carried out for ideological reasons; by making ideological bombing a worse crime than non-ideological bombing, the TSA legislates against thought. Unsurprisingly then, there are people within the Labour Party who disagree with this Act. So, would we be better off working with them, rather than chanting against them? Certainly, many would believe so, and the best argument on their side is that rowdy protests will always be mocked by the media, which means those who may be sympathetic are encouraged to simply laugh at these protests.

This mockery is demonstrated by Tracy Watkins’ claim (Dominion Post, April 14) that the protest was marked by “a couple of pasty Pakeha youths hold[ing] up a tino rangatiratanga flag.” This statement reflects the claim of several attending the Labour Party conference that there were no actual Maori protesting, which is untrue, as demonstrated both by the photograph to the right, and by an incident at the conference where one Maori woman walked out of the Town Hall, recognised a relative of hers on the other side of the barricade, and began a conversation with her. While a number of pasty Pakeha held black anarchist flags, the Tino Rangatirantanga flags were held by Tuhoe. So you will forgive me if I do not entirely trust the mainstream coverage of this protest.

The fact that such mockery was inevitable suggests that conducting a rowdy protest was tactically a poor move. However, the alternative – shutting the fuck up and waiting for some sympathy from within the Labour Party – may simply result in silence and inaction, so I’m going to answer my own question and say fuck worrying about upsetting people.

That said, I did have some doubts about setting off the fire alarm. Up until that point, the protest had been largely amicable (albeit noisy): Protestors had not tried to stop the police from forming an access into the venue; police did not try to arrest anyone; and while the protestors and conference attendees berated one-another, they understood their role. Labour Party president Mike Williams even put money in the Victims of Operation 8 Solidarity bucket.

When the alarm went off, I was tempted to go “oh noes they’re interrupting democracy! Bad protestors!” However, setting off the alarm harmed no-one, and did draw more media attention to the demonstration than would otherwise have been the case, so while it can’t really be regarded as anti-democratic or violent, it did make a point.

Have police and protestor tactics become so refined that protests are now nothing more than a game, played out for the sake of the media? Certainly, the fact that police intentionally avoided making arrests at all three protests, responded to the ‘drop and lock’ technique by backing off, and drove by Abel Smith Street with their sirens going to display their presence, suggests that they feel they are playing a game. Their main role is to turn up and look staunch, as demonstrated by their facial expressions in many of the photographs above. The protestors respond by playing along, working within the boundaries set out so as to avoid arrest. The fact that these boundaries are well-rehearsed and adhered to suggests that protesting really has become street theatre, played out for the sake of the media who attend in abundance.

However, at the end of the day, when you have a point to make, and you simply cannot get yourself heard through official channels, you have no other option but to protest. It’s just a pity that the act of protesting has become so accepted that it has lost its balls.

[note – this story is available online only. All photographs taken by the author.]


About the Author ()

Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

Comments (57)

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  1. Neilson says:


    You are confusing Jordan King (Publication’s Committee Rep) and Seamus Brady (Education Officer B)


  2. Conan says:


    You will find that William Wu is a member of the Labour Party and was attending the conference as a delegate not a protester.


  3. Jordan King says:

    We are a collective consciousness Alexander….let it be…

  4. Jordan King says:


    Twice I am Seamus. I was wearing festive Red the day of the Anti-Labour protest not clad in a black hoodie….

    And shame on you for not supporting Free Education.

  5. Sorry Jordan and Seamus, the typo has been corrected… my bad.
    Conan: the article does not state that William is a protestor, so your complaint is irrelevant.

  6. Chris says:

    It is worrying when Workers’ Party banners appear at VUWSA events. The two organisations are not linked, no matter how much Joel wants them to be.

  7. Hypocrite says:

    But it’s ok for other exec members to be in Young Labour and conveniantly with placards blame only Lockwood Smith at the $10 Billion debt protest recently…

  8. Chris says:

    That’s just idiocy, something of course associated with the Labour Party, but good of you to bring it up.

    I’m more worried about the blurring of organisational identity between VUWSA and the Workers’ Party. Joel should leave his crazy Marxist views at home when he comes to work.

  9. Hypocrite says:

    He’s a member of the Workers party so don’t be surprised to see him turn up to their events/protests (like Sonny turns up to everything Labour as their biggest cheer leader), this debate is nothing new, nor is Joel’s affiliations, you have to go all the way back to Alistair Shaw in 98 for so called organisational blurring as since then (excepting Hamish Hopkinson in 99 who was Alliance) they have all been bureaucratic labourites which is an extreme form of blurring! as Young Labour Presidents are the most cynical and treat VUWSA as a mini parliament/bureaucracy to pay their dues before going into the parent party or places like PSA, Finsec, EPMU, etc…

  10. Hypocrite says:

    I suppose it would be interesting to see a president who isn’t a marxist, young labourite flunky and is independent and apolitical. Are you running?

  11. Janice says:

    Kerry Tankard has never looked so scary with a handkerchief on her face.

  12. Sonny Thomas says:

    The $10Billion debt protest was great! There were heaps of Vic Students out enjoying the sun and giving parliament a very clear message. The decision to disallow Metiria and Dale speak was a silly one, they are supporters, and have been pushing Universal Student allowances for a long time. If that is how we are supposed to treat our friends then fair-the-well you evil enemies.

    Valarie Morse is a complete shit. She elbowed Winnie Laban in the breast, the same breast that is being treated for cancer. She displayed complete stupidity, and should be derided by her followers.

    The counter protest was pathetic. The idiots outside clearly have no idea how the party works, and alienated some of their strongest allies in the party that have been talking. They really do need to be smacked with a bit of reality sometimes.

    Yes, I am a Labour Party member, wow! We get involved in student politics because the issues matter, and we give a shit. Hypocrite should back off, tell us who they are and run for office if they really have any opinions.

  13. Chris says:

    Hypocrite – my complaint is not that Joel is a Workers’ Party member/organiser (although I do think he is foolish), just that he should campaign for them in his own time, and not give the impression to outsiders that the Workers’ Party is in _any way_ associated to VUWSA.

    I have warned him about this before, such as when he organised a Workers’ Party talk/workshop at university, and put down that he was “VUWSA President” on the poster. Another example is when he was sitting at the Workers’ Party desk in the Quad on Clubs’ Day with paraphernalia clearly indicating that he was VUWSA President as well as part of the Workers’ Party.

  14. Chris says:

    Valerie Morse is a disgrace to the Left.

    No, I am not running. Sad as that is for VUW students ;)

  15. Kerry says:

    Humourous, Chris.
    You’ve probably got way more mileage out of running Debsoc & getting grants to have free trips overseas on that ticket than you’d ever have earned as Vuwsa Prez, which is a notoriously underpaid job.
    But you know that already.

    The point of the anarchists wearing masks, myself included, was to show solidarity with our Tuhoe friends, who were masked to show that even masked women can appear threatening to grown adult conference attendees – how much more threatening were masked, armed AOS officers, when they shut down the community of Ruatoki at gunpoint on 15th October 2007, and terrorised every woman and child in the district, and not a few of the men as well?

    I have spoken to mothers and grandmothers who were there that day; and since these matters are still sub judice, and I am not the PM, who breaks such legal niceties whenever she pleases, I won’t say what was done to girls under the age of 16 in Ruatoki that day, by Police officers. Or the details of how the children were treated while their parents were being questioned.

    I will say that on that day, 15th October 2007, parents at Te Aro School received a completely different reception from the AOS officers who used their school as an operational base.
    No children were threatened with guns as their neighbours were questioned, no white families were made to kneel in the street at gunpoint while being shouted at through loud-hailers.
    When Valerie was arrested, they didn’t even handcuff her.
    Not so in the poor, brown, working-class rural town of Ruatoki.

    I am ashamed to be a 7th generation pakeha New Zealander, that this was done and publicised as some kind of attempt to keep my country safe for nice, white, liberal ‘non-terrorist’ citizens, when a definition of domestic terrorism didn’t even exist in our law (as stated by the Solicitor-General in his decision handed down November 8th, 2007).

    I am embarrassed to be a graduate of VUW, where I was taught Tuhoetanga as part of my first year Maaori language courses, by Pou Temara of Ngaai Tuuhoe at Te Herenga Waka Marae, where I, tau iwi, am considered tangata whenua; where I first learnt the meaning of Tino Rangatiratanga, where I first understood the great injustice done by the mistranslation into Maaori of the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

    I have read a lot of history and politics, since then, and learnt from those who have had their histories handed down through the generations. I have stayed involved in Green Party politics, simply because of their fundamental respect for the ratification of all the Articles of the Treaty.

    But Tuuhoe never signed the Treaty.
    Their lands were confiscated, by Act of Parliament, time and time again. (1863, 1916 … )
    This action, in October 2007, was just another act of confiscation by the State, another raupatu, taking whaanau as well as the whenua already taken.

    Yes, I will continue to stand up and say this:
    State Terrorists Kidnapped My Friends

    This was an attempt to import biases and predjudices from the USA Patriot Act de facto into New Zealand law.
    To trample the rights of indigenous peoples, to demonise and subjugate activists, to strike fear into the minds of ordinary people, so that they would accept the curtailment of their freedoms in the name of ‘security’.

    The USA is now the least free country in the world, and the most dangerous place to transit through on the way to anywhere else, now that rendition zones are placed inside every major international airport, so that any person who is flagged on the CIA, NSA or FBI lists can be ‘rendered’ to Guantanamo Bay without access to any civil or legal rights.

    This happened to Germaine Greer, she of the infamous rejoinder “bullshit”, when she attempted to accept an invitation to speak at a conference held in Boston last year; she got as far as LAX, and was removed from her transit lounge into the rendition zone, held for three days (missing her speaking slot), and then extradited to Australia.
    That this can happen to a Professor, travelling to an academic conference, whose story was told by none other than Naomi Klein after the conference, shows just how low the ‘security’ services in the USA have sunk.

    Operation Eight is tainted, corrupt policing, and the actions of the Anti-Terror Unit headed by Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White need at the very least a Commission of Inquiry to find out how $8.7 billion was spent to achieve such a complete cock-up in the attempt to use the Terrorism Suppression Act to gain convictions for the first time.

    Who signed off on that?
    Well, under the terms of the Act as it stood on 15th October, the PM had the final say in any actions to be taken under the TSA, including the issue of Warrants for Arrest.

    I lay this at the feet of Helen Clark; why was this action authorised, and how come, if she was breaking sub judice within a week of the raids (she’s arrogant, not stupid, she knew the charges would not come to Court…), it took three and a half weeks for an admission from the Solicitor-General that the Police had not acted under the terms of the Law?

    And I will continue to fight for this unjust case to be dismissed for all the arrestees, not only my pakeha and maaori anarchist and environmental activist friends, but also the people I have come to know as friends since we began to work together, to support one another and our families and loved ones who were arrested. Unconditionally.

    Ka whaiwhai tonu maatou, ake ake ake!

  16. So what? says:

    “I am embarrassed to be a graduate of VUW”

    Don’t worry, Kerry – we’re embarassed that you’re a graduate of VUW, too.

  17. So what? says:

    Actually, I’m sorry. That was overly rude of me, but we can’t delete comments.

  18. Kerry says:

    Nice to see you have managed a good grasp of the issues involved, then.

    First rule of mediocrity is to attack the messenger and ignore the message.

    When you’ve spent 7 months following every piece of journalism, every legal commentary, and every hui or meeting on a political topic, then you just might one day have a grasp on a topic like this one.

    But I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it. Your current level of engagement with the story suggests a breathtaking immaturity that may take a decade to resolve. If there’s a decade left for any of us, the way the USA is behaving everywhere.

  19. Chris says:

    Yeah, you’re probably right. Not sure about the free trips though – last time I checked the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve spent on debating weren’t “free”.

    Then again, last time I pointed out your inaccuracies on the Salient blog, you ignored them then too, or just called me “sexist”.

  20. Alan Shore says:

    Chris, if you got paid to masturbate you would be richer than John Key.

  21. Chris says:

    I doubt that’s possible. He’s pretty wealthy.

  22. Gibbon says:

    “Don’t worry, Kerry – we’re embarassed that you’re a graduate of VUW, too.”

    Hear, hear.

    When you tore up the Student Choice paraphenalia a few years back, wasn’t that attacking the messenger and not the message?

  23. So what? says:

    Yeah, I’d like to take my apology back now. Thanks.

    Incidentally, when you destroyed the Student Choice petition, weren’t you taking away the rights of those people to free speech and to air their own views?

  24. So what? says:

    Wait – this crap is a cover story? I thought it was one of those blogs wot Salient writers eat up bandwidth with…

  25. Chris – I believe the term was misogynist.

  26. The Smelly Marxist says:

    Isn’t Student Choice where the rich students are the only ones that can afford to choose? Joel Cosgrove = VUWSA President for Life!

  27. Chris says:

    Sorry, you’re right Laura. Thanks.

    I see Kerry has once again crawled back to whatever hole she comes from once she has smearing people.

  28. Chris says:

    And “Smelly Marxist” (ie Heyleni), nice try,

  29. Matthew_Cunningham says:


    Have you ever heard of the phrase “to a hammer, everything is a nail”? It’s one of my favourite phrases, and it basically means that people with a very particular outlook on life will end up seeing that outlook in almost everything they look at. The McDonald’s on every street corner becomes a sign of the white man’s colonial imperialism and domination over the land; every African-American rap song becomes a ploy enforced by the white man as a tool for the cultural repression and enslavement of all non-pakeha; every television show that had a predominantly white cast is being racist and exclusionist and is perpetuating the views of white supremacy. On what basis do you claim that these raids were racist in nature? Need I remind you that, of the 17 people arrested as part of the raids, only THREE were Tuhoe?

    I too have read a lot of material on these raids, and I also happen to have friends who were closely related to the raids – on the Police side. This wasn’t some half-baked scheme they came up with at the last minute – the entire operation was well thought out and planned, after over a year was spent amassing evidence and gaining all the necessary approvals and reviews for the raid to be carried out. And just check out the evidence they had amassed (since you claim to have read every scrap of paper related to the raids I will assume you picked up the Dominion Post when they published the evidence). I fdound it incredibly interesting that, up until that publication, there were thousands of protestors running around willy-nilly, flicking off the police, spitting in their faces, and flashing their pretty, carbon-copy “fight fascism” banners on top of the Auckland Police station (how generous that our apparently brutal fascist thug police force allowed said protestors to dance around on top of their headquarters). Whereas, after the evidence was leaked – nothing. The protestors fell quiet, without uttering so much as a single apology. The Police were vindicated for their good work and the protestors did not express a single ounce of regret for their flagrant and premature slander.

    And again, since you claim to be so familiar with the press, you will no doubt have realised that the ‘terrorism’ label was NOT something introduced by the Police – it was entirely a media invention, bandied back and forth amongst the national newspapers until every headline in the country blared the words “terrorist” and “terrorism”. One of the main reasons why the Police decided to charge the arrestees under the Terrorism Suppression Act was because they could not use telephone interception evidence in prosecutions under the Arms Act. And because the Terrorism Suppression Act was vaguely written from the start, the Solicitor General was right in dismissing the charges under this act – no doubt because any guilty party charged under it would be able to wriggle free because of the ambiguity in the laws. I see you failed to mention that, whilst the Solicitor-General DID refuse prosecution under the Terrorism Suppression laws, he also said that it was only because of the messiness of the laws – and that he thought the police were entirely in the right in the raids and the arrests. It had NOTHING to do with acting or not acting under the terms of the laws. Whilst you may see this decision as a sign of the weakness of the case against those arrested, I see the opposite – in fact, I see this as a sign that our apparently ‘oppressive’ legal system works extraodrinarily well, and that if any of the people arrested were falsely accused, then our legal system will establish that as well and clear their names.

    Now in saying all of this, I DO agree that, if the people of the Ruatoki community have protested so vigorously over their treatment during the raids, then I am sure they have a damn good reason for it. When I was blogging at the time of the raids I remember saying that there should be some kind of governmental commission performed that would go to the region and establish the nature of the main complaints that the community has, and try to address them. I stick by this, and i’m really not sure why this hasn’t been done as yet. Have the Ruatoki community petitioned for something like this to be done? If not, why not?


    P.S: I also find it interesting that you claim the USA is the least free country in the world, when every single impartial international evaluation system completely disagrees with you (see Democracy Index, Human Development Index, Freedom in the World, Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Index of Economic Freedom). America may certainly have its problems – I don’t deny that – but I suggest you look beyond George W. Bush and the Iraq War before you cast such a strong argument against the country that revived democracy after a two thousand year slump.

  30. Chris says:

    Any response to this Kerry or like usual when you get hammered in an argument are you going to run away?

  31. So what? says:

    Smelly Marxist – the complaint raised wasn’t as to the value of Student Choice, or who benefit from it. The complaint was: how can Kerry complain so vigorously about “ZOMG WE MUST HAVE OUR SAY PAY ATTENTION TO ME OMG OMG MY FRIENDS WERE ARRESTED” etc etc when she goes ahead and rips up petitions which students had signed in order to have their say, simply because they disagreed with what she wants?

    Matthew Cunningham – simply amazing. Well put.

  32. Matthew: “the ‘terrorism’ label was NOT something introduced by the Police – it was entirely a media invention, bandied back and forth amongst the national newspapers until every headline in the country blared the words “terrorist” and “terrorism”.”

    Keep this in mind when you point to the Dominion Post’s version of the evidence behind Operation 8. The Dom Post leak, while interesting, is a distorted picture of the evidence. Many of the quotes they print are damning, but there are problems with them: for instance, none are attributed, and the source files show the most vicious statements about killing white people printed by the Dom were said by a paranoid white guy, not Tuhoe separatists. When John Campbell talked about the evidence, he noted these caveats and generally managed to give his viewers a well-rounded picture, whereas the Dom invited readers to draw erroneous conclusions. The Dom also leaves out the comical evidence – shots of guys buying fish’n’chips, half-baked descriptions of Tino Rangatiratanga – that they somehow felt played a role in demonstrating why they should make arrests. Of course, they left this out because, being newsmedia, they need to focus on the most damning parts. But if you want to demand that someone read the evidence, you need to point to the full, suppressed evidence, not a slightly misleading version.

    Also, you state “Whereas, after the evidence was leaked – nothing. The protestors fell quiet, without uttering so much as a single apology.” Didn’t they just make a lot of noise protesting the Labour conference? They have hardly fallen silent.

    Your point that only three of those arrested were Tuhoe, while significant, doesn’t address why Kerry actually says the raids were racist: because those arrested in Ruatoki were treated with much less dignity than Wellington’s anarchists. This is the point you need to address if you want to prove that the police did not act in a racist manner.

    Nevertheless –
    You’re correct about the reasons the Solicitor-General refused TSA charges (although Kerry’s also correct that the TSA should never exist); correct to point out that the police were not the ones saying terrorist; and correct to note that our radicals have a tendency to see absolute oppression when the situation is more complex. But while I do agree with you that we do need to stand back and look at the evidence before jumping to conclusions, and I’m not interested in acting as Kerry’s defence, I worry that you aren’t heeding your own advice.

  33. secret says:

    yeah fuck you guys. props to karl

  34. The Smelly Marxist says:

    The New Zealand Police are actually nice blokes and blokettes… They never do anything rong… Matthew Cunningham will join the Police after he finishes his LLB/BCom… after all they need more ONE-EYED PREJUDICED reactionaries to beat up and arrest activists, Maori, immigrants, students and anyone else who dares to exercise dissent against our great state or our beloved Furhrer Clark. We need to love Big Brother! I’m not going to hold my breath for a commission (usually a waste of time and money as few right-wing governments accept their findings) to investigate what exactly Broad spent the nearly nine million dollar$ of taxpayers’ money on within ‘Operation 8’. Obviously not “some half-baked scheme they came up with at the last minute” – the New Zealand Police surely never arrest the wrong people on trumped up charges?!? One wonders what you did read, as very of the material in the newspapers or on the television regarding Operation 8 has been objective or ‘fair and balanced’ (unless we are talking Fox News style tabloid sensationalism). Just remember which side you are on the next time one of the Boys/Girls in Blue (aka Ngati Poaka) truncheons a non-violent student protester or terrorizes Maori children on a school bus. You are certainly NOT on the side of the People. BTW I think Joel is the best thing to happen to student politics in over a decade and I am male (female Marxists are mostly NOT smelly).

  35. Chris says:

    Joel stop hiding behind a pseudonym!

  36. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Smally_Marxist: If you don’t have anything constructive to say, please do not resort to name calling. I am not prejidiced, in any way, shape or form – I despise racism. I think it is one of the lowest qualities that any human can possess. I am 100% for equal rights, undivided by race, gender, or sexual orientation. The fact that you would simply shout me down with a half-baked speech about ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Fuhrer Clark’ shows me you have little in the way of constructive comments to add to this argument.

    Furthermore, I never said that the New Zealand Police never do anything ‘rong’ – in this case, as in all cases, I feel it prudent to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy to pick out those actions you find suspect without considering all of the great work they do every day.

    I do, however, fully respect the right of protest for those who did find the actions of the Police suspicious. That’s the great thing about democracy – everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Even if I disagree with the reasons behind a protest, I understand that if this country ever does start sliding towards authoritarianism, it will be people like Kerry who will realise it first – far before I do. If it came across in my previous post that I felt otherwise, I apologise.

    Tristan: As always, cheers for the good feedback. I wasn’t aware of the follow-up protest against the Labour Conference the other day. I will look that up. Incidentally, you are right about the evidence, and of the media in general – there is always a tendency to stress the most ‘sensational’ parts of any story, hence why I try to read as objectively as possible and from as many sources as I can find. As for Ruatoki, I would like to see a commission formed to investigate what happened as much as anyone, but I am as always hesitant to use the word ‘racist’ until such a commission has been formed and its findings released. If it were discovered that the Police had acted in any way inappropriate, I would fully support making an example of whatever individuals were responsible.

  37. Kerry says:


    Sorry to have made you wait for a reply.

    Occasionally, I have more to do with a weekend off than sit on the internet writing short, inaccurate, ungrammatical responses to blog comments, but go ahead and use your life up in that manner if it appeals to you.

    I have coherently rebutted the comments about VSM issues, back in March 07, in the letters page of Salient, bound copies of which exist in the office.
    Research for yourselves, matter closed as far as I’m concerned.

    Matt Cunningham:

    My point was not that the majority of arrestees came form the Tuuhoe iwi, it was that the Police acted in a racist way by shutting down all traffic in and out of Ruatoki on the day of the arrests – for, as you say, 3 arrests amongst members of Tuuhoe iwi. This certainly did not happen when paakeha in Hamilton, Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Palmerston North were also woken by knocks on the door on the 15th October 2007.

    Yes, there have been major submissions made to the UN, the Law Commission, and the High Court, on behalf of Tuuhoe and other iwi arrested during the raids.
    Most of this was actioned in November and December of 2007.
    Some of that is also sub judice still.

    The arrests were a result of investigations by the Police Anti-Terror Unit, headed by Asssistant Police Commissioner Jon White, based in Auckland.
    So the use of ‘terrorist’ as a label by the media did come directly from information provided (legitimately or not) by the Police themselves.
    Warrants for Arrest were made under the Arms Act; Warrants for Interceptions and Surveillance were made under the TSA, which is why the evidence became inadmissable after the decision by the S-G on 9 November 2007.

    This is why a bunch of disgruntled police staff felt justified in leaking the documents – they couldn’t cope with the fact that they had carried out an investigation for some 2 and a half years or so, without reading the law correctly, and made a major stuff-up, procedurally.

    The incompetence of the Anti-Terror Unit should be the subject of an inquiry such as the Beazley Commission of Inquiry into Police Misconduct that came out of the Louise Nicholas complaints – aka the Rickards Inquiry.
    Talk about waste of public money and police time – this unit has acted to try to placate USA demands for a test-run of the anti-terrorist legislation, and fallen on their own sword quite comprehensively.

    A general comment:

    A google search of the Herald and Stuff websites will bring up most of the articles that I saved as they were published; some of the information I know comes from personal contacts, and from public meetings spoken to by Moana Jackson, Nicky Hagar, Jane Kelsey, Edwina Hughes, and others, in the early weeks after the arrests, which may not be published anywhere you can access, but you could try asking the PGSA pres, Pala Molisa for any assistance if you are interested in the proceedings of those seminars.

    I tend to run to the old adage ‘Information cures ignorance’.
    Some of you are beginning to make me wonder wether information can do that any more. Feel free to surprise me with an increase in the erudition of your responses.

    I may be busy for a few days, so don’t expect rapid responses, it is the way of the world, ce n’est pas à ma faute. (with apologies to Les Liasons Dangereuses)

  38. din says:

    Thank you Weltec and Te Wanaga O Raukawa

  39. So what? says:

    Kerry, if you were’t such a complete and utter bitch in your smarmy, condescending replies, you might find people were more willing to read what you write and that they might bother to put some effort into their replies to you.

    Personally, I am interested in hearing what may have happened in Ruatoki, as well. But not from you, with your passive-aggressive holier than thou meandering pointlessness.

    Tristan, do you know what was being referred to in regards to Ruatoki in those comments, and if so, are you willing/able to elaborate?

  40. Karl Bronstein says:

    so what? – Thank you, if I could hug you I would.

  41. Sebastopol Ringtone says:

    Students would protest toast if it wasn’t left wing!


  42. Kerry — “I tend to run to the old adage ‘Information cures ignorance’.”

    Why then, when i offered to get you evidence to support my viewpoint on Nuclear Power, and the marginal effects of the nuclear meltdowns at three mile island AND Chernobyl, did you ignore me?

    Why did you also turn your nose up at me when I suggested that rakon crystals could also be used to makes watches and GPS systems instead of lazer guided bombs? Why did you also ignore the fact that good tangible improvements have come from defense spending and technology — such as Radar, heat resistant chemicals, carbon fibre, GPS and a complete Sonar map of the Atlantic which was instrumental in proving the now seminal theory of continental drift.

    Practice what you preach Kerry.

  43. Matthew_Cunningham says:


    Thankyou for a thorough and thoughtful reply. You’ve raised quite a few interesting points and rebuttals in your latest post, not all of which I necessarily agree with but which point out that there are a number of ways of interpreting this issue.

    However, the overall tone and feel of your latest post differs vastly from the tone and feel of your original post. For example, you’ve moved from a position of stating that “State Terrorists Kidnapped My Friends”, that “this was done and publicised as some kind of attempt to keep my country safe for nice, white, liberal ‘non-terrorist’ citizens”, and that the entire reasoning behind the anti-terror raids was “To trample the rights of indigenous peoples, to demonise and subjugate activists, to strike fear into the minds of ordinary people, so that they would accept the curtailment of their freedoms in the name of ’security’”, to one where you merely state that Operation 8 was nothing but “a major stuff-up, procedurally”. I’m not saying that one argument precludes the other, but you have to admit that’s a pretty drastic change in tone from equating the raids on a level with racial and cultural genocide to merely calling it a legal fumbling.

    Having said that, I agree that there was certainly some legal uncertainty in the case pursued by the instigators of the raids – but only in the sense that the Terrorism Suppression Act was too ambiguously worded for any case to be successfully pursued through it. The choice of this law by the Police, as I see it, was not one of incompetence, but rather one of practicality – in order for the damning audio evidence they had amassed to be used, they had to look beyond the Arms Act to one where that evidence could be accepted. The rejection of the charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act was therefore not a reflection on the weakness of their case; it was merely due, as I’ve mentioned, to the ambiguity of the laws.

    I still do not agree that the Police actions in Ruatoki were racially motivated – I will hold off on judgement there until further information comes out, much as I held off on my judgement of the police until the leaked evidence came out. The fact that a lodgement has been made with the UN and a “please explain” letter has been sent to the New Zealand government is, to me, yet another sign that the system works both on a national and an international level, and I will be eager to see what the response is. And incidentally, I’m not sure what you mean by “knocks on the door” in regards to the raids outside of the Ruatoki region, if you consider bashing down the door and forced entry to be a somewhat impolite form of ‘knocking’. There was a sense of urgency and an element of force in all of the raids, and if that urgency and force was more severe in Ruatoki then I trust that the legal process will uncover that.

    And speaking of the leaked evidence, the evidence in question came into the possession of the Dom Post and Campbell Live well before the dismissal of the charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act – so it can hardly be claimed as the act of a few disgruntled policeman seeking a trial by media. It’s possible that the evidence was leaked in the POSSIBILITY that this might happen – as sort of a fail-safe – but this doesn’t change the damning nature of the evidence, whether or not it was accepted. And whilst the media did focus on the most ‘sensational’ elements of the evidence, the sheer amount of material that was amassed (and the timeframe it was amassed over) clearly shows the carefully planned and meticulously run nature of the whole operation.

    I agree that information certainly does cure ignorance, but information is not an end all and be all in itself – it is merely the fuel for formulating an argument and making and interpretation. And a left-wing interpretation is not always going to be the ‘right’ one (excuse the pun).

    Cheers, Matt.

  44. Kerry says:

    Matt C,

    The points I was making in my second response to you were intended to give detail and depth to the comments I made in my first response.

    Yes, I am aware that the Police leaked the documents before the S-G’s response.

    The Police already knew before the decision was released, hence the leak happened before the decision.
    The Crown Law Office was party to the discussions with the S-G, as were the lawyers for the accused, as a requirement of the S-G’s investigation.

    With regard to “knocks on the door”, there were some households woken up, or visited in the course of the days 15 – 17th October, where warrants were not produced, merely information was being sought.
    Quite rightly, some households of activists did not permit the Police to enter or search their homes, or question the inhabitants. These are rights of all citizens under our current laws, BTW.
    I have heard about these unpublicised events from the people concerned themselves, within the activist networks I am connected to. Some of these activists are anarchists, some are not.

    You use the phrase ‘legal uncertainty’, responding to my claim that the process was ill-thought out.
    I meant, that the decisions to implement the TSA, taken at the level of Asst Police Commissioner White and his unit, were flawed, and motivated by the desire to test-run a bunch of expensively acquired new equipment, not the least of which was the software supplied by the FBI, for which Police officers were flown to the USA to be trained on the system.
    Running a bunch of text intercepts through a keyed search algorithm is not the best way to define “offense”, especially when your key search is culturally set to another culture’s linguistic set. But I digress…

    We already have Echelon, a system nominally run by the GCSB in NZ, which has been supplying raw data directly to the USA (military intelligence) for decryption, for decades, with interception bases at Waihopai and Tangimoana.

    The new Anti-Terror Unit, set up in 2002, had frustratingly failed to prove any terrorism in NZ, up until the plan to carry out the raids was mooted.
    The experience of the SIS in failing to provide secure, sound intelligence data and analysis on the Zaoui case was reverberating in the corridors of the NZ Intelligence community, and some sabre-rattling seems to have been the response that they came up with.

    I maintain that Operation 8 was one of the most poorly executed Police investigations this decade.

    There was ample opportunity to use the Police Maaori Liason Officers (otherwise, why have them?), but this was not done, on the grounds that using indigenous officers would taint the process.
    That is a piece of imported racism which is not present in NZ Policing policy, and has astounded Iwi all around the country, since every Iwi has it’s own representatives within the Police.
    Similarly, Maaori Wardens, and the Maaori Women’s Welfare League, were not consulted on how to manage the obvious outcome of distress to women and children, which is one of the major criticisms of Police behaviour on the day.

    The breaches of Human Rights Act, by lining up and photographing every member of the Ruatoki community travelling in or out of the town that day; and taking guns onto buses full of children and teenagers heading from farms to school, is outrageous.
    That these events occured in Ruatoki only, not in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, or any of the other localities, smacks of deliberately targeted racism in the event design.

    Some hard questions need to be asked about the calibre of ethics we have acquired in the NZ Police, by allowing officers who have served in overseas Police Forces to do their regulation 6 months at the Police College, then slot into the system at the grade of their former position in an overseas jurisdiction.
    Many of these new Senior Sargeants repeatedly order their Constables to enact an arrest, quoting an offense which is not on the NZ Statutes.
    They don’t take kindly to being reminded that NZ law is the only law they are empowered to police.

    For example:
    We simply don’t have a law that says our flag is sacred, and cannot be burned.
    We definitely don’t have a law that says that the Australian or US flags can’t be burnt.

    Unfortunately, the US Embassy seems to believe that it can de facto require our Police Force to enact arrests on charges that are not on the NZ Statutes.
    This has lead to many charges being dropped against activists when cases come to Court, as the activism has not broken any NZ law.

    See Crown vs Hopkinson, 2004, if you require further clarification on that point.

  45. Kerry says:

    Sorry, missed Conrad’s bleat:

    Actually, when you mentioned those in the course of a discussion, I nodded, and smiled, and carried on the discussion with you, following up my previous comment.
    I already know of those arguments, they are old chestnuts.

    If you bring up cliches, expect me to tire of the discussion pretty rapidly.

    There is a wealth of information about the consequences to local populations of fallout from weapons testing in the atmosphere or under water in the Pacific … ‘Rongelaap’ provides some wholly disgusting images if used as a search parameter, try that.

    Sellafield/Windscale is the power disaster that irradiated most of the Lakes District some 40 years ago, the area is still out of bounds for families to bring up children.
    The NHS required people to move their families away after the rise in leukemia amongst the children became incontrovertible.
    This would be better searched for in Medical Journals than Google, however.
    Many archives of Medical Journals are available online, go and ask a research librarian if you need assistance accessing these resources.

    On the subject of the uses for RAkon’s product, yes, similar chrystals are used in civilian contracts.
    I think you’ll find that Rakon contracts fairly exclusively to the major Defense contractors in the USA. Who, of course, use telco products, as well as watches and GPS locators. Some of those features are also incorporated into smart bombs! there you go, isn’t technology wonderful…

  46. “I nodded, and smiled, and carried on the discussion with you, following up my previous comment.”

    So, instead of attacking those “old chestnuts” which you know so well, as should be able to destroy, you resort to baseless condescension?

    I’m not impressed.

  47. Gibbon says:

    Hi Kerry,
    I don’t feel informed enough to really jump in on these discussions, so I won’t waste anyone’s time by doing so.
    However, I would love to see your source regarding guns being brought onto a schoolbus. I’ve heard a lot about it, but haven’t read anything in any print media. If this happened, then that is something I’d be very concerned about.

  48. So what? says:

    Hi Kerry,

    Glad to see you took nothing on board from what I said earlier and proving my point all the more.

    Karl – Thanks for the message. The feeling is mutual.

  49. Kerry says:

    Gibbon –

    My sources for that information about guns on buses and school vans are eyewitnesses, and their mothers and grandmothers. Personal disclosures made to me in the context of hui I attended in November and December, 2007.

    I will not be more specific than that, out of respect for my sources, and the fact that some information is sub judice at the present time.

    Aanei, arohanui ki nga whaanau paani o Ngai Tuuhoe, taku mihi kia koutou katoa. Ka whaiwahi tonu maatou, ake ake ake.

    Karl, Chris (under all your pseudonyms, I can’t be bothered listing each one)

    I really can’t waste energy responding to petty and pathetic comments.
    If you have something to say on-topic, say it.
    I don’t feed trolls.

  50. So Kerry, if I tell you the SIS invaded my house last night and stole all my canned fruit, you’d believe it coz you heard it from ‘one of your sources’? Coz it totally happened.

  51. Matthew_Cunningham says:


    I understand that your second response was intended as a reinforcement of your first. However, nothing of what you said in your second post either proves or justifies your statements that “State Terrorists Kidnapped My Friends”, that “this was done and publicised as some kind of attempt to keep my country safe for nice, white, liberal ‘non-terrorist’ citizens”, and that the entire reasoning behind the anti-terror raids was “To trample the rights of indigenous peoples, to demonise and subjugate activists, to strike fear into the minds of ordinary people, so that they would accept the curtailment of their freedoms in the name of ’security’”.

    The evidence that you cited in your second and third posts, which I will admit was thorough and well thought out, simply highlights what I myself have argued – that there were some legal uncertainties in the case that NZ Police were pursuing, and that there are still many questions that remain unanswered and unpursued in the treatment and experiences of the Ruatoki community during Operation 8. On these two points, I agree. You also state that the implementation of the Terrorism Suppression Act were flawed. Whilst I don’t agree with everything you said about a test-run of American-imported legislation, I do agree that they weren’t really necessary in a country like New Zealand. An extension on the terms of the Arms Act to allow the admission of certain types of evidence not normally admissible (one of the main causes for this whole legal uncertainty) may have sufficed.

    Regarding the leaked evidence – again, regardless of the timing or the expected outcome of the Solicitor General’s review process, the damning nature of the evidence speaks for itself, and more than warranted a response on behalf of the Police. Whilst they did pursue charges under the Terrorism Supression Act as a matter of practicality regarding the evidence they had amassed (which could be argued as the beginnings of the ‘terrorist’ label that became so popular afterwards), the fact of the matter remains that the ‘terrorist’ label became so ingrained in the popular consciousness because of the liberal usage of it by both the media AND the protestors themselves. Phrases like “State Terrorists Kidnapped My Friends”, “arrest me, I’m protesting – I must be a terrorist”, and “first they called us savages – now they call us terrorists” were, at best, completely unconstructive – and at worst, unwarranted slander.

    Regarding your response about the “knocks on the door” in the Wellington area – I’m not sure what you are trying to argue here. My argument was that the dramatic forced entry into various houses in the Wellington area certainly don’t match up with your claim of the peaceful nature of the raids outside of the Ruatoki area. In saying that, I am not trying to equate them with what happened in Ruatoki – I am merely pointing out that the contrast might not be as strong as you are claiming.

    Regarding your claims of activity in the Ruatoki region as “smack[ing] of deliberately targeted racism in the event design” – first of all, have any of your claims been proven? Secondly, if they have, what evidence is there that these were the deliberately targeted actions of the high-level planners of the operation, and not merely the out-of-line actions of a few rowdy police officers? A big claim like that requires equally big evidence to support it, and I just haven’t seen it. Again, I want to stress that I do believe that what happened at Ruatoki does certainly warrant further attention, and if what you have said proves to be true then certain actions of the Police do appear to be in violation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (i.e. Article 5, “No one shall be subjected to … inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”), and I would support the punishment of those individuals involved.

    Regarding the recuitment standards for NZ Police – this is a little off topic and not something I know enough about to comment. However, you clearly state that there is no law in New Zealand that says that New Zealand flag cannot be burnt. That is not true. Section 11.1b of the ‘Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981’ states that “Every person commits an offence against this Act who in or within view of any public place, uses, displays, destroys, or damages the New Zealand Flag in any manner with the intention of dishonouring it.” Now this is obviously open to interpretation (just what classifies as ‘dishonouring’ the flag?), but the legislation is clear. As for burning the Australian or American flags, I wouldn’t expect there to be any legislation against either – and anyone charged for doing so would be right in being cleared of those ‘charges’.

    Overall – I still don’t think the evidence supports your viewpoint on police and on Operation 8, although I respect your right to that viewpoint.

  52. knobgobbler says:

    Oh fuck it Fucking HTML tags not working.

  53. Kerry says:

    Matt C,

    “Regarding the leaked evidence – again, regardless of the timing or the expected outcome of the Solicitor General’s review process, the damning nature of the evidence speaks for itself ”

    Actually, no it doesn’t: the leaks were very selectively edited by Tim Pankhurst’s team, and the most inflammatory (unattributed) quotes published were not, when the facts came out, said by maaori of any description, but by Mr Jamie Lockett, who is not part of any of the activist groups.

    I did happen to meet him at Auckland District Court once, by virtue of finding the only free seat left in the Public Gallery next to his family, when attending to support activist friends. He’s not someone I would ever associate with under any other circumstance, and that’s all I can say here, once again, matters are still sub judice.

    I think you’ll find, if you wait long enough, and the Prosecution does not immediately embargo all proceeds of the trial, that this case has been over-sold in order to protect the reputation of the Police units involved in the investigation, and the execution of the raids.
    BTW, on that score, it has been noted that officers on the day, sent into the BOP area, thought they were shutting down a P-production/drug ring, and had not been briefed that they were conducting raids to uncover political agitators.
    Their demeanor and behaviour was consistent with the expectation that they might encounter armed drug dealers, as the AOS has so frequently when attending meth-lab arrests in South Auckland, or indeed, Wellington.
    By priming officers on the ground to this expectation of threat, an entire community was approached as though every man, woman and child were participants in a criminal endeavor. Search warrants under the Arms Act only served to reinforce this perception on the day.

    With regard to the violent entry of homes, only at one Wellington address, as caught on film by TV3, was a door broken down. Other addresses were visited without destruction of property.
    One pair of arrests were made by uniformed officers whose AOS cover got lost in the bush and incidentally rolled downhill, wiping out the tent-site on their way, but I think we can take it for granted that it was incompetence in that case, not intent to destroy property!

    On flags – I think if you search case law, you’ll find that there has never been a sound conviction in NZ for “flag-burning”, and some magnificent civil liberties defenses have been mounted against attempts to convict on these charges, going back to the Springbok Tour protests in ’81. Ask Mr Ellis in the Law School, sometime when you have an opportunity, he represented one case pro bono publico.

  54. knobgobbler says:

    Kerry: You keep talking about your friends, from what I have read on this post (and others) and heard about you on the grapevine, I do not think I would be far from the truth in saying that you don’t have any real friends, which in itself is part of the reason why you are establishment hating activist. Grow some interpersonal skills. Stop hanging around Salient. Do something productive with your life. Your energies could be put to better use somewhere else other than this shit rag of a magazine.

  55. Matthew_Cunningham says:


    Have you read the leaked evidence? If not, please see the following link:

    You’ll find that, whilst Lockett did indeed make many inflammatory remarks, there are also some equally suspect ones from a number of other people. Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara spoke about Al Qaeda training manuals and establishing cells within various urban centers, about revolution, about bombing campaigns against very specific targets and ‘extreme violence’, as well as of his fear of someone ‘dobbing them in’ to the Police and them getting shot at. Tame Iti spoke about IRI techniques, creating chaos in the name of the Tuhoe Nation and the Catholic Church, about going to war and plans to shut down the Uruweras and close them off, as well as staging mock interrogations at gunpoint. Omar Hamed spoke of the utmost need for secrecy in their preparations for ‘war’, as well as the training techniques he had undertaken such as ‘live fire extractions’ and the like. Simon Bailey spoke about plans to sabotage a suspected visit of George W. Bush. Anaru Paine spoke about ‘revolution’ and the need to selectively screen anyone wishing to join so as to maintain the utmost secrecy.

    Whilst it is true that the press were very selective in the quotes and comments they chose to publish, I stand by my statement that the damning nature of the evidence speaks for itself. Furthermore, the so-called ‘inflammatory quotes’ were not merely said by Jamie Lockett. Having read this evidence and its highly suspicious nature, I cannot imagine under what circumstances the Police could ever have chosen NOT to act. You can argue all you want about quotes being taken out of context; however, a few disgruntled remarks on the side about the government is one thing. Active planning for revolution is another.

    You state that the case was over-sold by the press in order to protect the reputation of the Police. I don’t see how this is possible considering the Police have no control over what the press prints or does not print. Regardless of what their intentions were behind the leaking of the evidence, once it was out of their hands they had no active control over what spin the media would take on it. The press caters to popular opinion, not governmental pressure. Claiming that every story our free press printed that used the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’ was meant to protect the reputation of the police is like claiming that every story on the EFA is meant to protect the reputation of the PM.

    Regarding the Police being told they were shutting down a drug ring – from where does your evidence for this come from? I can’t find any reference to it anywhere.

    Regardling the flag burning – my response was solely aimed at your statement that ‘We simply don’t have a law that says our flag is sacred, and cannot be burned’ – a statement that I disproved. I wasn’t trying to prove whether or not any convictions under the ‘Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981’ had been carried through.

    Alas, I think it is time we agree to disagree…


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