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)

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