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Tariana Turia - General Debate "Terror" Speech

General Debate
Tariana Turia; Co-leader Maori Party
Wednesday 14 November 2007

Last Thursday, Dr David Collins, the Solicitor-General, brought to an end the most bizarre act of political theatre this nation has seen since July 1984, when Rob Muldoon famously called a snap election after a late night drinking session.

Except Dr Collins was stone cold sober as he announced, “I am unable to authorize any prosecutions under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002”.

In that one sentence, Dr Collis brought an end to a sequence of events which had been unfolding in Aotearoa over a lifespan of eighteen months.

A sequence of events, which amongst other never-to-be-forgotten moments included:

• detaining people without charge for many hours, including young children;
• taking people into custody at gunpoint;
• people being herded into a shed and kept under guard for several hours;
• children hungry, crying and a girl as young as fifteen being subjected to an intimate body search;
• searching and photographing innocent citizens while stopped at roadblocks;
• smashing into homes, and so it goes on.

Mr Speaker, for the Tuhoe nation; Black Monday will be forever etched in their memory as the day police sought to blockade and lock down an entire community for the arrest of two people. The principal person they targeted lives in Whakatane and the police knew that – after all they had eighteen months of evidence.

The day that our armed police moved enmasse into the peaceful valley of Ruatoki, dressed in armed garb and masked.

Despite the fact that the late Sir John Turei, a significant kaumatua of Tuhoe was Howard Broad’s advisor. It counted for nothing when he sent his police storming in to this community. Police iwi liaison, who do a great job and are trusted by our people, were not even considered.

My colleagues have sat with some of these people, I have heard their stories, and I will not forget.

Children being separated for four to five hours from their mother, barricaded into another room.

A young mother, forced - spread-eagled on the ground, while her two teenage daughters clad only in bare nightwear, were motioned out on to the road, and made to put their hands above their heads.

On Sunday night, many New Zealanders watching Native Affairs on the telly, would have heard the Minister of Police describe the people of Tuhoe as “collateral damage”.

Collateral – subordinate or secondary, additional. The language of death. A concept more commonly used to describe the aftermath of bombings in Iraq, the costs of war against innocent civilians.

Damage which has occurred as a result of these actions.

Compassion? Understanding? Respect for the people of Tuhoe?

No way, Tuhoe is the casualty that even the Police Commissioner acknowledges will take decades to heal from, decades to repair.

The atrocities that have occurred in the midst of our communities under the name of terrorism have brought out the worse of prejudice and fear and political name-calling that this House has witnessed for some time.

There are some people in this House who should remember their own history before they start putting labels on others.

Perhaps one of the most shocking performances last week was the abuse laid into the Anglican Church, who were accused of‘bleating on’ and‘using divisive victim-mentality thinking’ for daring to call for a review or repeal of the anti-terrorism legislation.

What we have seen in this last month is a division into power and powerlessness, a sense of false righteousness used to intimidate and cast doubt on to those who dare to challenge the terror raids.

But the question we are left with, is who will hold Parliament to account for faulty, flawed legislation?

Who will hold the NZ Police and Commissioner Broad to account for an overly heavy, all powerful assault on the people of Tuhoe?

There has never been any doubt, that if laws had been broken, crimes committed, regulations breached, then the individual parties must be answerable to the law of the land and the police, with their eighteen months of evidence, some of which we have seen in theDominion Post, selectively chosen in the so-called public interest.

But those upholding law must never be above the law – and that is why the Maori Party has called for Howard Broad to do the honourable thing and resign.

Perhaps he must also be part of the collateral damage of Operation Eight.

ENDS

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