Wednesday, 31 October 2007

TERROR RAIDS- John Minto replies to Chris Trotter

Kia ora Chris,

I don’t usually write to people like this because there are usually more productive things to do. However I’ll make an exception in this case.

I didn’t see your earlier pieces on the so-called “terror roundup” but saw your Dominion piece on Friday and SST column last weekend. I thought both were shallow and sometimes pompous but more importantly they were a weak commentary on kiwi activism and potentially damaging in relation to the accused.

Two weeks ago the police and SIS launched probably the most savage assault on the progressive movement in my lifetime. Your immediate instinct was to duck for cover and cut adrift a group of activists you can only surmise about. You preferred the long shadow cast by the state’s forces than, for example, engaging in battle to prevent the anti-terror laws being used for the first time. In fact I’m not sure you’ve even mentioned the anti-terror laws. Have you caught up with them yet and what they mean for civil rights in New Zealand?

Dozens of young activists have been visited over the past two weeks by police with thick folders containing transcripts of every phone call, every text and every email they have sent in the past year. Is this not worth a mention?

You then went further and gave active support to what you describe as the police thesis of an alliance between “Maori separatists and eco-anarchists”. Unlike other commentators you weren’t prepared to wait and see what evidence the police produce. Instead you’ve been busy doing your best to bolster the state’s case in the public mind.

I had the experience of sitting through a bail hearing for Rongomai Bailey last week. Despite being arrested on arms charges including being in possession of a Molotov cocktail the police agreed they were unable to produce any evidence he had ever even touched a weapon. They did produce surveillance transcripts of two bugged car journeys (which incidentally are inadmissible on the arms charges). The evidence itself is suppressed but suffice to say there was nothing in even the “juiciest” bits read to court in relation to Rongomai that would not be heard at any gun club in New Zealand on a Saturday afternoon.

I’m sure the police will come up with a few headlines (Jamie Lockett “declaring war on New Zealand” was one) as time passes but I doubt any kind of credible terrorist threat will emerge despite it already being a reality in what seems to be your somewhat fevered imagination.

As it stands you have aligned yourself with our state forces against good New Zealanders.

It’s not the first time you’ve ducked. When the US/UK launched the attack on Iraq in 2003 you sided with Tony Blair against the rest of mankind. Why is it with the big issues you seem to lose the plot? Will you side with the US/Israel when they launch their long awaited attack on Iran?

People who know you better than me tell me the problem is you are not connected in any meaningful way to any groups active in any particular issues so that your commentary is often theoretical and disconnected from daily struggle. I don’t know if this is true but it seems the only explanation that makes any sense to me.

Don’t feel you have to respond Chris. I’ve said enough and am unlikely to have the time to respond again anyway. There’s plenty of real work to do.


John Minto

The crisis in RESPECT: a letter to the British SWP

A letter to all members of the SWP (Britain)

30 October 2007

Dear comrades,

Your comrades in the International Socialist Tendency in Socialist Worker - New Zealand have watched what appears to be the unfolding disengagement of the Socialist Workers Party (Britain) from RESPECT - the Unity Coalition with gradually mounting concern, anxiety and frustration.

SW-NZ’s perspective since 2002 has been that building new broad forces to the left of the social liberal (formerly social democratic) parties is an essential step towards the rebirth of a serious anti-capitalist worker’s movement. The work carried out by the SWP and its allies to build a broad coalition of the left which could compete with Blairite/Brownite New Labour on equal terms has been an inspiration to us, and, we believe, to all serious socialists throughout the world.

In the last two months, to our distress, all the good work that has been carried out in England and Wales seems on the verge of going down the tubes. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the specific organizational proposals put to the Respect National Council by George Galloway MP in August, an outright civil war has broken out between the SWP leadership and other forces in Respect. This, as far as we can see, could - and should - have been avoided.

It seems to us that your party’s leadership has decided to draw “battle lines” between itself and the rest of Respect - a stance, we believe, guaranteed to destroy the trust and working relationships on which any broad political coalition stands. Of particular concern to us is the expulsion of three respected cadre from the SWP - Kevin Ovenden, Rob Hoveman and Nick Wrack - for refusing to cut working relationships with those seen as being opposed to the SWP. To draw hard lines against other forces within a united front (even of a “special type”) and to expel members who refuse to accept those hard lines is behaviour you would usually see from a sectarian organization, not a party of serious socialists looking to build a new left alternative. It is perhaps in this context that Galloway’s reported comments about “Leninists” should be understood, rather than as an attempt to exclude revolutionary politics from Respect.

What distresses us particularly is that the above mentioned comrades were expelled after submitting what seem to us to be thoughtful and critical contributions to your pre-conference Internal Bulletin. If these three comrades are not being victimized for raising a political alternative to the line of the Central Committee, it certainly gives the appearance of such victimization - or even, to use a word which has become common currency recently, witch-hunting.

The opening contribution of the SWP CC to the Internal Bulletin makes a couple of points which seem to us to be particularly problematic in this context. Firstly, the CC state that:

The critics of the SWP’s position have organised themselves under the slogan “firm in principles, flexible in tactics”. But separating principles and tactics in this way is completely un-Marxist. Tactics derive from principles. Indeed the only way that principles can become effective is if they are embodied in day-to-day tactics.

It seems to us an uncontroversial statement that tactics must be based on much more than principles - a lesson which Lenin himself explained clearly in his famous “Left-Wing” Communism. Revolutionary tactics must be based on the objective realities of the time - the level of class consciousness, the balance of forces in society at any given moment, the resources and cadre available to a revolutionary organization. To derive tactics from principles is not the method of scientific socialism, but of a dogmatic or even sectarian approach, that the party is “schoolteacher to the class”.

As we see it, the disaster overtaking Respect has been exacerbated by the SWP deriving tactics from principles. The principle is that “the revolutionary party” embodies the correct programme, that it must work as a disciplined unit to win its position, and that there is nothing to learn from reformist or other forces. This feeds into a tactical approach that any threat to the organizational leadership of “the revolutionary party” must be fought using all means at the party’s disposal, and those forces who oppose the strategy of the party must be eliminated if they do not accept defeat.

According to the information we have, your party chose not to debate Galloway’s proposals openly within Respect first, and tease out the politics behind them. Rather, the SWP leadership first moved to neutralize internal dissent, before coming out fighting in Respect with accusations of “witch-hunting”. Instead of leading with the political arguments and winning leadership among the broad left forces in Respect, your leadership seems to have mobilized the party for a civil war waged primarily by organizational or administrative means. Inherent in this drive to defeat Galloway and his allies appears a “for us or against us” approach which seems to leave no room for any possible reconciliation - in effect, ensuring the death of Respect in its current form as a coalition of the broad left and a nascent transitional formation of working-class politics.

An attempt by the SWP to establish dominance by sheer force of numbers at the upcoming Respect conference would, it seems to us, result in a Pyrrhic victory at best. Such a course of action, even if successful, would simply drive out those forces who are opposed to your party’s current line and leadership, and reconstitute Respect as a front for SWP electoral activities. We can not see this as encouraging class consciousness or political consciousness, among the SWP, Respect or broader left forces. On the contrary, it seems almost designed to harden the boundaries of organizational loyalty and the divisions between “the revolutionary party” and other forces - almost the definition of sectarianism. Again, if these stories are true, then Galloway’s comments about “Russian dolls” would seem to us - as revolutionary Leninists ourselves - to be fair comment.

Another quotation from your Central Committee’s IB contribution which struck us runs as follows:

Of all the claims made against the SWP’s position the argument that Respect must be our “over-arching strategic priority” must be the most ill considered. Firstly, it ignores the fact that the building of a revolutionary party is the over-arching priority for any revolutionary Marxist. All other strategic decisions are subordinate to this goal.

Six years ago, the American International Socialist Organisation was criticized by the SWP (Britain) for a sectarian refusal to engage with the anti-capitalist movement. Alex Callinicos’ own article on the split with the ISO-US includes the following statement:

In an extraordinary speech at the ISO’s convention in December 2000, the group’s National Organizer, Sharon Smith, attacked the idea that the ISO could, by systematically focusing on this minority, “leapfrog” over the rest of the left, and insisted that methods of party-building forged in the downturn were necessary irrespective of the changing objective conditions. “Branches are now and will always be the measure of the size of the organization,” she said.

The ISO-US was criticized for failing to see to that the gains from a revolutionary organization engaging properly in a broad movement, for both the organization and the class struggle, could not be simply quantified by how many members the organization gained. A sect with many members is of far less consequence in the class struggle than a smaller group of revolutionaries playing an organic leadership role in promoting political consciousness among the working classes and oppressed layers. We feel that the SWP may repeat the ISO-US’s mistakes - with the much greater consequences, this time, of the wreck of the biggest advance for the British left-of-Labour since the Second World War - if it lets Respect, as “only or primarily an electoral project”, crumble at this point.

In contrast, Socialist Worker - New Zealand sees Respect - and other “broad left” formations, such as Die Linke in Germany, the Left Bloc in Portugal, the PSUV in Venezuela and RAM in New Zealand - as transitional formations, in the sense that Trotsky would have understood. In programme and organization, they must “meet the class half-way” - to provide a dialectical unity between revolutionary principle and reformist mass consciousness. If they have an electoral orientation, we must face the fact that this cannot be avoided at this historical point. Lenin said in “Left-Wing” Communism that parliamentary politics are not yet obsolete as far as the mass of the class are concerned - this is not less true in 2007 than it was in 1921. The question is not whether Respect should go in a “socialist” or “electoralist” direction, but in how Respect’s electoral programme and strategy can embody a set of transitional demands which intersect with the existing electoralist consciousness of the working class.

The personality of George Galloway MP and the links with Muslim communities in London and Birmingham, seen in this light, are surely assets to be worked with, not embarrassments to be minimized. When Galloway came to New Zealand in July to support our campaign against Islamophobia, he electrified audiences with frankly some of the best political oratory that we have ever heard. No-one is claiming that he is a saint, or that he has not made some questionable political choices, but we refuse to believe that somehow over the space of a few months he has become a “communalist, electoralist” devil.

The latest news that comes to us is that John Rees, a SWP CC member and the National Secretary of Respect, has publicly supported the four Respect councilors in Tower Hamlets who have resigned the Respect whip. If this is true, then the “civil war” in Respect has escalated to the point where the two factions are virtually functioning as separate parties - a “de facto” split much more harmful in practice than a clean divorce. This course of action is not only causing a serious haemorraging of cadre, but destroying the credibility which your party has built up as the most consistent and hard-working advocate of a new broad left in England and Wales. If the SWP appears to be attempting to permanently factionalise Respect, then it will be no wonder that other forces are trying to exclude them - not because of a “witch-hunt against socialists” (are you seriously claiming that Alan Thornett and Jerry Hicks are witch-hunting socialists?) but for reasons of simple self-preservation.

Socialist Worker - New Zealand comrades see this course of action from our IST comrades in the SWP as potentially suicidal. We see uncomfortable parallels with the self-destruction of the Alliance in New Zealand in 2001-2, where one faction deliberately escalated an inner-party conflict to the point where a peaceable resolution became impossible. Both sides of that struggle were permanently crippled in the aftermath. If you comrades are serious about trying to salvage the potential of Respect, I would urge your party to adopt the following measures:

· Lower the temperature of the internal struggle in Respect, by agreeing to a postponement of the Respect conference until at least after the SWP conference in January;

· recommit to building Respect as an active, campaigning organization in the unions and the movements, rather than a formation solely concerned with fighting elections, and to combining the SWP’s work as an independent revolutionary organization with this goal;

· put up proposals for more comprehensive institutions of democratic debate and political education within Respect;

· retreat from the current course of factionalist brinkmanship in the current debate, and take whatever steps are necessary to repair the working relationship between yourselves and other leaders and tendencies within Respect; and

· retract the expulsions of Kevin Ovenden, Nick Wrack and Rob Hoveman, at least pending debate at your party conference.

If, on the other hand, Respect is finished as a united political force, it would surely be better for the two sides in this debate to approach the question of “divorce” amicably and calmly, rather than forcing the issue to a final conflict in the next few weeks and destroying the trust between the SWP and other forces on the left for perhaps a long time.

I would also encourage your party to, as a matter of urgency, write a report for the information of your fellow members of the International Socialist Tendency, giving your analysis of the crisis within Respect and your long-term strategy for building a broad-left political alternative in Britain.

In solidarity,

Daphne Lawless

Editor, UNITY magazine

Socialist Worker - New Zealand

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Minto- Police push for anti-terror charges politically motivated

Police push for anti-terror charges politically motivated

29 October 2007

The police decision to refer evidence from their so-called “anti-terror” activities to the Attorney General is deeply disturbing. (The Attorney General has delegated to the Solicitor General)

If the police believe they have evidence of breaches of the law then they can lay charges under any number of legal provisions. Instead they have chosen to pursue charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Behind this decision is the deeply political need to justify the huge extra resources and wide legislative powers the police and Security Intelligence Service have been given since 2001. They have to find terrorists. Uncovering criminal activity is not enough for these “wannabe terrorist fighters”.

What the police are now doing is charging political activists under a law which would have made many of the civil disobedience protests from 1981 into “terrorist activities”. Activities such as the 40 people sitting on Rotorua airport runway, the invasion of the pitch in Hamilton and the blocking of the Harbour Bridge could all qualify.

(The Terrorism Suppression Act defines a terrorist as someone who, for political reasons, causes “serious disruption to an infrastructure facility, if likely to endanger human life…” This catch-all definition underlines the danger of these laws.)

Cullen’s cowardice
Meanwhile Attorney General Michael Cullen’s decision to delegate the responsibility for deciding charges to the Solicitor General is conveniently cowardly. This Terrorism Suppression Act is the Labour government’s law with the provision inserted by Labour for the Attorney General to approve terrorism charges. Cullen is now ducking for cover.

He wasn’t so shy late last year when he intervened at a moment’s notice to quash attempts to bring alleged Israeli war criminal Mosche Ya’alon (“the butcher of Qana”) to justice.

Cullen ordered the abandonment of the arrest warrant issued against Ya’alon by Auckland District Court Judge Avinash Deobhakta. Earlier Deobhakta had found there were “good and sufficient reasons” for the New Zealand police to arrest Ya’alon.

To now pretend somehow that he should leave the decision to law experts is gutless. Cullen will be the subject of protest at the Labour Party conference this coming weekend.

John Minto
Ph (09) 8463173 (H)
(09) 8452132 (W)

Monday, 29 October 2007

John Minto on Winston Peters - spittle-flecked dog whistling

Winston Peters - spittle-flecked dog whistling

29 October 2007

Claims of apartheid among those supporting the activists arrested in
the recent para-military police raids across New Zealand are typical
of Winston Peters's spittle-flecked dog whistling.

To suggest those protesting are doing so because some of those
arrested are brown is pathetic.

Peters has a long history of racial opportunism and added to that
history over the weekend. Previously he has attacked Asians, refugees
and Maori rights supporters in race-based attacks. Last weekend's
torrent of abuse from Peters is par for the course.

Peters was a part of the National Party in the 1970's and 1980s which
regarded Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and regarded the African
National Congress as a terrorist organisation. Peters has never
marched against apartheid but has regularly stood abusing from the

We are opposed to the threat of using the Terrorism Suppression Act
and its amendments against political activists. This is the most
serious threat to civil rights in New Zealand since the 1951
waterfront lockout.

The most surprising aspect of last Saturday's protests was the degree
of unity amongst the diverse groups represented. We have not seen such
a range of groups with such unity for a long time in New Zealand protest.

John Minto
Global Peace and Justice Auckland

Tame Iti's statement

I direct my gaze towards my sacred mountains – Taiarahia,
Maungapohatu, Tongariro and Taupiri. I look towards my river Waikato –
at every bend a taniwha.

To the high chief King Heitia, to the families, subtribes, the mother,
to my connections with Waikato and Te Arawa

To the families, subtribes and tribes throughout the land from Cape
Reinga to Murihiku (Stewart Island), to the Maori MPs, greetings to
you all. The dark cloud over the Urewera has covered the ancient
garments of Hinepokohurangi (the mist maiden – traditional tribal
ancestor for Tuhoe). The gnashing teeth are gnawing at the limited
powers of the authority of Tuhoe and the Maori people.

Guns and laws have arrived to terrify the Tuhoe people, their mana
motuhake (sovereignty) and that of all Maori.

To my relations the high chiefs of Waikato and Tuwharetoa, to all
families and subtribes everywhere, to the Maori MPs and to the workers
of the world – remain on the path of support and assistance to the
Tuhoe people of the Urewera and of all Maori.

Mauri ora (the spirit of life)

By – Tame Wairere Iti
From the territory of Manaipoto - Waikeria

Sunday, 28 October 2007

DEEP IN THE FOREST- Police culture exposed by former Top Cop

"In the Ureweras there are weapons of mass destruction. Trust us."

I urge every New Zealander not to allow the state apparatus to take from you by default, legal rights people long before us fought for, died for.

Explosive stuff from Ross Meraunt here

Also watch Jimmy O Dea talk about the police raid on his house to TVNZ news Here

Saturday, 27 October 2007

March for Freedom- thousands march

Join the Civil Rights Defence Facebook Group Here

Watch TV3 news report here

Thousands of protestors have rallied in a 'national day of action', opposing the so-called 'anti terrorism' raids, and calling for those arrested to be immediately released on bail.

Among the crowd of a thousand in Auckland was Rongomai Bailey who is one of the handful of accused people already on bail.

Johann Smith is passionate about his country, its people and their rights.

And so the Wairoa local travelled more than 500 kilometres to Auckland to help lead the march against the police raids.

The rally attracted more than a thousand protesters - Maori, pakeha, ethic groups, young, old, those with money and power, and those without.

Together they marched - or in some cases wheeled - to Mount Eden prison, where most of those arrested are being held on remand.

The crowd called for no charges to be laid under the terrorism suppression act against the 17 arrested and for the act to be dumped.

Rongomai Bailey was among those who were arrested.

He was allowed to address the crowd, but for legal reasons we can't identify him.

In the garden city, protestors took a more civil approach..

Protestors are now drumming up support around the world - a rally is being held in london in a few hours.

TVNZ News- Anger grows over police raids- watch video here
Oct 27, 2007 8:30 PM

Eleven days on and the anger at the so-called terror raids is continuing to mount.

Saturday saw another round of nationwide protests and instead losing interest in the cause, numbers are growing and emotions are running high.

"We've got a very strong message here from the people of Auckland - from people right throughout New Zealand, and the world," says protester John Minto.

A large crowd gathered in Auckland's city centre and marched to Mount Eden jail, where most of those arrested are being held on remand.

Along the way there was a show of solidarity for Tuhoe Maori and Tame Iti, one of those still in custody.

It was the same message in Wellington, where numbers were also up on last week's protest. They echoed the call for unity.

"By picking out Tuhoe; by picking out Ureweras, it is a kind of strategy to divide different communities - something we need to be careful about and try to stick together," says protester, Dr Maria Bargh.

There were also protests in Christchurch but this day of action isn't just confined to New Zealand. Demonstrations are also planned for Melbourne and London.

They want the terrorist laws abandoned. One man now out on bail, Rongamai Bailey, says their colleagues should be released now.

"I'm not a terrorist and the guys in Mount Eden are not terrorists," says Bailey.

Until police show their hand this issue is unlikely to go away.

"The government will ignore this movement at its peril," says Minto.

Kia Ora

1000 plus people marched in Aucks today in support of Tuhoe, Civil
Rights and activists and community workers arrested and harrassed around the
country today. Special guests were two bus loads of Tuhoe people who had
travelled up from the Urewera's to honour people with their presence. Many people
from the community were represented in the march, Maori, P.I, Pakeha, working
class, middle classes, academics and students and activists from a range of
The march was peaceful and law abiding, if energetic and righteously
angry at times. The Police adopted a non confrontational approach, and numbers
were lower on the march itself than i have seen in a few years. Many fine
activists and people led chants, waved banners and flags, and the Tuhoe flags
blew strong in the Aucks breeze. the march was well organised, and led by people
like John Minto, Mike Treen from GPJA, and Simon Ooosterman the Anarchist bro,
but the march itself was led by Tuhoe, and they led well with great chants,
flags, spirit, courage, and humility, good people trying to help their
community out.

People got out of the way of the Tuhoe people so they could lead the
demo at various parts of the march, cos they had been hurt the hardest by the
raids a few weeks back.
The march left downtown Auckland before arriving at Mount Eden Prison.
Speakers at the Mount included Tuhoe spokespeople, Civil Liberties people, Green
M.P Keith Locke, Solidarity Union rep Joe Carolan, and Maori Trade Unionist
and activist Helen Te Hira, and one of the arrested activists who had been
In other words, Te Tino issues, civil rights issues, trade union
issues, US imperialism issues ( related to NZ becoming a flunky to the US via the
new Terrorism Amendment Act) and the terrorism by Police of Maori
communities were all raised as issues. Simon Ooosterman spoke about what the crowd of
people could do in order to support the prisoners in practical ways, visits,
letters, messages, solidarity in practical ways. A letter written by Tame Iti
was read by one of his Tuhoe whanauanga was read to the crowd and drew a warm
applause of solidarity. It was marvellous to see so many young people, older
experienced activists, and community people from both Aucks and Tuhoe marching in a
real spirit of Unity respect, and solidarity. Keith Locke made special
mentions of the fine work the Maori Party had done on this issue, as well as his
own Party, and that work is ongoing as the Terrorism suppression Amendment Bill is
not law yet. Keith spoke about how it is Tuhoe, more so than activists, who
had been victimised by Police actions a few weeks ago. This session was held at
the Probation service offices, opposite the old Mt Eden prison.

The marchers then marched to the actual new remand Prison, where the
political prisoners are being held, and stood outside the prison where people
chanted for the freedom of the imprisoned people. Prison guards manned the roof of
the prison, perimeters of the grounds, while Police guarded the front gate.
Cops on the gate may have numbered perhaps 10. But the people was cool, like
the cops, which was the right move in order to challenge the state under the
circumstances ( by building mass, open people pressure). Another series
of speeches was delivered to the crowd at this point. John Minto said
people should look at the Global Justice and Justice Auckland ( GPJA) for a
newsletter people can sign up to, online that will give people info about new
demonstrations, new pickets, fundraising, and ongoing support for all
people involved. Check out the GPJA website for details, and for the daily
newsletter John Minto, Gereldene Peters and Mike Treen are producing.

Jimmy O'Dea the older Irish brother who got his home busted into on Thursday up at the
Point spoke well about his experience. One of the Tuhoe bro's who got bail
spoke and thanked the crowd for supporting their whanaunga and community and
received a warm applause.
The most moving, and powerful speech came from Tame Iti's son, who
spoke about his father, his fathers vision for an inclusive NZ where all NZers can
mix and mingle in peace. The air was electric when Tame's son spoke, and the
brother thanked the crowd for supporting his people. Brother spoke with passion
and vision, calm and collected. After this speech was given the message was
passed to return back to the Aucks city centre. the people returning to Aucks
was less than the 1000 plus who started but that was cool. new activity is
planned, organising work is being done, the spirit of marchers and organisers is
strong, and there is a spirit in the air that people must keep organising and
fighting this Bill.

I was unable to visit the Tuhoe manuhiri at their marae in Mangere, but
i know Helen Te Hira, and fellow Maori activist Lena Henry told me they were
taking kai out to the good people of Tuhoe, after the march ended, to their
marae, so they are being looked after. All in all a good days activity, lots of
people handing out awesome leaflets, posters, and people meeting mixing and
mingling in peaceful protest. On a personal note, i met up with a bro from Ngati
Whatua, Barry Hawke, who i worked with years ago on a building project. he is
one of the sons of Grant Hawke, one of the leaders of the struggle at
Takaparawhau (Bastion Point) in 1977-1979. It was moving for me to hear Barry speak
about the need of his young Maori people to stand up and get involved. he spoke
about how the older generation had done their yards, now it was our turn. Barry
was there with some people from his Maori hostel, a mean roopu of brothers. Barry
was interested in getting more of his Ngati Whatua people involved. This
was before the march even left Aotea square, so its inspiring to see a younger
generation of Maori people activating and serving their people, to much.

i hear that Christchurch had 200 people on the demos
down there today on the same kaupapa. solidarity,

Tony Fala

Friday, 26 October 2007

Minto and Meraunt- United for Civil Rights

TV3 News Video here

From old foes to new friends - former top cop Ross Meurant and political activist John Minto have spent 26 years on opposing sides, since the Springbok tour.

But they have finally found a cause they agree on.

For 26 years they have been on opposite sides of the barricades...

Ross Meurant, the former top cop, renowned for taking a hard line on radical elements, and John Minto, the political activist involved in most left-wing groups and causes.

Today for the first time they actually met, and buried the hatchet, united by their stance against the police terrorism raids.

They came to each others attention in 1981 during the springbok tour, but never got closer than 50 metres.

Both men were considered generals - Meurant directing the red squad, Minto the protestors.

That same year, Meurant gave the long arm of the law a baton, which became known as the Minto bar.

They say the police are now abusing their powers, and misusing legislation.

John Minto will tomorrow lead the march for freedom; more than a thousand protestors are expected to join him.

He did ask his new friend to join him - Meurant politely declined, saying it really isn't his thing.

NZ Herald: Mass raid stuns veteran unionist

NZ Herald: Mass raid stuns veteran unionist

5:00AM Friday October 26, 2007

By Elizabeth Binning

Anti-terror raids
Tame Iti's case to be heard in Auckland
National, Labour 'bad as each other'

A 72-year-old socialist worker who has been protesting against the "anti-terror" raids had his own home searched by police yesterday over an alleged kidnapping.
Jimmy O'Dea, a veteran trade unionist who has prostate cancer, said he had no idea why eight carloads of police arrived in the afternoon at his Bastion Pt home armed with a search warrant.
"I was at home with my wife and kid and my dog started barking. I thought someone was there so I went out and I couldn't believe it - there were police everywhere.
"I said, 'Are you the anti-terrorist searchers?' and they ummed and ahhhed. They said, 'We have got to search your house' and they showed me the warrant and said, 'You better read it'."
The search warrant, which was granted by a district court judge on Tuesday, said police had reasonable grounds to believe that a number of items, including clothing, a chrome pistol and ammunition, hunting knife, pliers and a baseball bat, were at the house.
The items were believed to be evidence of kidnapping, threatening to cause grievous bodily harm, blackmail and commission of a crime with a firearm.

However, Mr O'Dea said he had no knowledge of any kidnapping or similar crime. "I don't commit crime like they are talking about. I was flabbergasted, to be honest."
Solidarity Union secretary Joe Carolan said Mr O'Dea was helping to distribute pamphlets for a coming protest against the "terror raids" so the timing of the search on his own home was a strange coincidence.
"We want to know why they think Jimmy is a bloody suspect, given he's 72 years old."
Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said Mr O'Dea was not a suspect in the kidnapping, nor did it have anything to do with the "anti-terror raids" or Mr O'Dea's stance on them.
Ms Hegarty said the warrant was in relation to another man who was arrested on Tuesday after his own home was searched.
The arrested man had given Mr O'Dea's address on his bail form so police had sought a new warrant and searched the property looking for evidence of the kidnapping.
"It has absolutely nothing to do with any events to do with last week's raids."
Mr O'Dea said last night he did not know the arrested man but had received mail addressed to a person in recent months. It was not clear if it was the same person who had been arrested this month.

From TVNZ news

Elderly activist slams police raid
Oct 26, 2007 8:18 PM

A long-time activist and friend of Tame Iti is labelling as "overkill" a police raid on his own home.

Seventy-two-year-old Jimmy O'Dea's house in Auckland has been searched but authorities say it has nothing to do with terrorism.

It all started with O'Dea's three border terriers.

"I heard the dogs barking and I went to the front door and opened it and the place was covered in police," O'Dea says.

Neighbours say eight car loads of officers came through O'Dea's front door.

"I said what are you searching for and they wouldn't tell me," he says.

Police produced a search warrant saying they were looking for a pistol, cell phone and ammunition.

This was going to be quite a search because O'Dea has lived there 50 years and likes to keep his things close.

"They found nothing as far as I know," he says.

It's not the first time the police and O'Dea have not seen eye to eye.

During the 1981 Sprinkbok tour they came through the back door O'Dea lost a battle with a police baton during a protest.

Before that it was the 1975 land marches and the 1978 occupation of Bastion Point.

O'Dea is an Irishman who has stood beside Maori in many a protest. He has known Tama Iti for 30 years and knows those arrested two weeks ago.

But according to police, Thursday's search has nothing to do with terrorism or Iti.

They say is was all about a kidnap suspect arrested further up the street on Tuesday.

Police also also say five cars not eight showed up as neighbours claimed.

But it does say something about the current climate that a search warrant at an activist's house is suddenly news.

And O'Dea thinks it is all to do with what happened in Ruatoki early last week when police raided suspected guerilla training camps and made a number of arrests for alleged weapons offences.

"In the 50 years I've lived in this house and the 50 years I've lived in New Zealand I have never seen anything like this in my life," he says.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Civil Rights Hikoi in Rotorua


Flags, drums, banners and a passionate flow of over 700 kaumatua, pakeke, rangatahi and tamariki marched peacefully against the police anti-terror raids which began 15 October.

The procession started at the mall end of Rotorua's city centre at 12.15pm and marched down Tutanakai Street to City Focus where several speakers touched upon the reasons behind the raids and importance of standing firm in support of civil liberties and indigenous rights. Among those who spoke were lawyer Annette Sykes, principal and EBOP Okurei Maori councillor, Hawea Vercoe, veteran activist Bernie Hornfeck and an indigenous brother from North America (who has a Tuhoe wife and children).

The marchers then moved down towards the Rotorua District Court House where several police officers, many of whom were Maori, were standing guard in front of the Court House. One of the many eloquent and articulate organisers of the march posed the following question to those prihimana, asking, "why do you stand in defence of those who colonised you and not stand with us protecting your communities?"

The protest coincided with today's court hearing which sought to determine if Tame Iti will be allowed bail and if the trial will take place in Auckland instead of Rotorua. Critics of the move suggest that the goal of shifting the venue is to take Iti away from his peers and as far away from Tuhoe lands as possible.

The Crown successfully applied to transfer the case to Auckland and the three people charged were remanded in custody to appear in court on November 1 and 2. Annette Sykes, Iti's lawyer said they would appear in the High Court at Rotorua on Monday to appeal his denied bail decision by Judge James Rota last week as well as the trial transfer to Auckland.

Click on the following links to view coverage of the Rotorua hikoi from other sources:

New Zealand Herald
The Stuff (Iti's case transferred to Auckland)
One News coverage of the Hikoi in Rotorua (includes a short video)