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Ngawha eviction call criticised

Ngawha eviction call criticised

A plan to use prison site security staff to evict kaitiaki from the peaceful occupation at Ngawha has drawn fire.

Pakeha Support Ngawha spokeswoman Moea Armstrong is questioning the legality and ethics of using a private company to enforce trespass orders that police appear reluctant to act on.

She said the current threat by Corrections project manager John Hamilton meant those at the noho had to live with the stress of knowing they could be forcefully evicted at any time.

She sez Mr Hamilton's move breaks the spirit and substance of the contract to occupy, which was agreed after the Department for Courts had difficulty processing 30 people - including seven kaumatua - who were arrested at the site on June 4 last year.

Charges were dropped in return for an assurance that work on the prison would not be disrupted by those occupying a designated area near the highway.

Ms Armstrong said she understood the fire, which was lit to mark the anniversary of the arrests, did not disrupt work and had posed no danger.

She said the department should sit down and talk to kaitiaki instead of playing tough in the media. The issue involved rights to free assembly and free speech, and the Crown honouring a contract made in good faith with tangata whenua.

The office of new Corrections Minister Paul Swain failed to respond today to questions on his views on the proposed eviction and the terms of the agreement between the department, the police, and Te Whanau O Te Ngawha.

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