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Urewera 17 Profile: Rongomai Bailey - Film Maker

Over the coming 2 weeks will be profiling each of the so-called terrorists arrested on Monday 15th October and now known as the Urewera 17. The first profile is of Rongomai Bailey who received bail on Tuesday this week when Judge Josephine Bouchier found that the case against him wasn't sufficiently made to justify keeping him in prison. While his name is not suppressed Rongomai's image remains suppressed as does the evidence presented against him during his bail hearing.

Rongomai Pero Pero Bailey
Aged 28 - Film Maker Of Auckland

Profile by Joseph Barratt

Out on bail Rongomai Bailey is still determined to open people eyes through the power of film, despite the prospect of potential terror charges being laid against him.

Rongomai Bailey was one of the 17 people arrested in police raids around the country last week, he received bail on Tuesday and had his name suppression lifted.

Bailey has plans to travel around New Zealand in a film festival, showcasing films on world issues.

“I want to make people question what they are told is the truth,” he says.

Bailey was a graphic designer but has also worked as a cameraman including working alongside New Zealand director Vincent Ward for a film he is doing on the Tuhoe.

In the past he and Vincent have traveled to the Urewera, the area where the alleged “terrorist training” camps are, but Bailey says they did not go to the camp and there is no connection between it and Ward.

Concerning his time in jail, Bailey says, has really made the issue come home. “It makes me realize what other people go through” in other parts of the world.

“If we had been in Palestine my mothers house would have been bulldozed. If we had been in America no one would have heard from me and my girlfriend would have been left wondering what had happened.”

“It’s no coincidence the raids have been the same week the anti terror laws go to Parliament.”

“[New Zealand] is going down the slippery slope… What scares me is how quickly its happening.”

Bailey says that now he has been labeled as a terrorist he won't be able to travel to lots of places around the world.

While hoping that the police do not officially lay terrorism charges against him - and the risk of a 14-year jail sentence that could entail - Bailey says he wont be surprised if the Police do proceed.

The Police have said they will be making a decision around now on whether to ask the Solictor General for leave to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

Raising the spectre of terrorism is about political control for the Government, he says. "I am not anything vaguely like a terrorist."

In contrast to the heavy police presence in some of the other raids around New Zealand In Bailey's case arrest came with a normal knock on the door at 7.30ish in the morning.

His girlfriend's flat-mate answered the door and went and got him. Bailey then went out to see the police with just a towel wrapped around him.

The police let him get dressed and then they took him away un-handcuffed.

As for after the arrest. “The first night was horrible, I didn’t know what had happened and I hadn’t talked to anyone,” says Bailey.

He says he was very relieved to make bail because he was thinking to himself, “what am I going to do in here, no book, no pen or phone calls.”

Bailey used his first phone-call in prison to ring his girlfriend but unfortunately it went through to an answering machine. He says the prison services people were very professional but were to busy to let him use the phone again.

The other prisoners were a good bunch of people, he says, a lot of them support Maori sovereignty and were supportive of him too.

One of Bailey’s first comments when leaving the courthouse yesterday was, “a lot of the people in prison seem like nice guys, they just seem a little lost and there is no help in there for them.”

If Bailey had been refused bail this week he would potentially have had to spend months imprisoned before another chance for release, a trial estimated to be anywhere up to 24 months away.

Several other "terror" accused are expected to have bail hearings, name suppression appeals and bail appeals heard in coming days.


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