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Minister's Office Says Protester Irresponsible

The Housing Minister’s office says it is “unfortunate” that Auckland state housing protester Len Parker did not recognise his responsibilities.

A spokesperson for Housing Minister Tony Ryall, says the surprise police eviction of Mr Parker at 9:30 this morning is “largely” a Housing New Zealand operation.

The Minister, he says will not be issuing a statement on the eviction. However, the Minister’s spokesperson did say “Housing New Zealand has bent over backwards” to resolve the back-debt Mr Parker accrued during his rent-strike.

“It is unfortunate,” the spokesperson says “that it has come to this, and it is unfortunate he [Mr Parker] did not meet his responsibility to pay and meet his rent obligations like thousands of other Housing New Zealand tenants do.”

The surprise Police eviction squad smashed its way into the Housing New Zealand home in Balmoral, Auckland, at around 9:30 this morning.

It was an end to a rent-strike-protest against market rents for state house tenants. Len Parker has been barricaded up in his Balmoral HNZ home for the past six weeks.

Police smashed their way into the house through the roof and through the doors.

The “smash and enter” tactics of the police are being described as “brutal” by SHAC - State Housing Action Coalition - spokesperson Peter Hughes.

Mr Hughes told Scoop this morning: “This has been an example of the ‘might is right’ approach here. There has been a total contempt for the real wishes of the public. I have seen similar things like this during the Springbok Tour in 1981, the Bastion Point evictions. Those people were 100 percent right in their stand then and were proved to be so yet they suffered the same fate as Len has at that time.”

Police say Mr Parker was arrested and taken into custody and is now at Auckland Central Police Station.

Around 30 police officers remain at the house and security guards are arriving to keep protesters from re-occupying the property.

This protest is one of around nine similar protests organised by SHAC around the Auckland region.

“There are another nine or ten more protesters here in Auckland who are going to face this same sort of treatment,” Mr Hughes says.

HNZ attempts to evict Mr Parker through more passive means have failed. Mr Parker was offered another home at a cheaper rent but turned it down.

To come - images of the police stand off, and response from Housing New Zealand.

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