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Urewera Trial Comment

This evening, waiting for the news, I picked that the defendants would get off the 'criminal group' charge and go down for some, not all of the firearms charges.

As it turned out, instead of getting it right, the jury equivocated and finally put the big item into the too hard basket.

Understandable, I think. The defence case was an odd mixture of sincerity and opportunism.

The crown case was based on spying, blind paranoia and an amount of racism.

I cannot believe that a pakeha community could have been shut down and turned over in the brutal manner that Ruatoki suffered.

That said, and with respect, I don't concurr with the October 15th Solidary conclusion :

" This whole episode reveals the sad face of a racist country determined to quash Maori aspirations for sovereignty."

New Zealand is a country in which racism and struggles against racism have marked all the years of my lifetime. There has been some progess.

I remember years ago,when it was an unbelievably astonishing event for Petone to elect a Chinese man to be their mayor.

Racism in various forms is still alive and a menace in this country. But I don't sense a national movement determined to quash Maori aspirations for sovereignty.

Maori aspirations take many forms, stemming from an history of a people colonised, oppressed and latterly viciously exploited as a proletariat. Maori today have very many legitimate demands. Just some of those are better jobs, better housing, better education, better respect for all aspects of Maori culture, better health care, recompense for stolen land.

I believe in every struggle the decisively important issues are the concrete specific things.What does sovereignty mean? Control over your stuff. I think, to be real, sovereignty needs to be spelled out into items. As a historical example, Bastion Point - Maori land.

Anyway, as the end of this case hangs in the ballance, I wish all the defendants the very best, some of them are long standing friends of mine and in my conviction they are guilty of nothing more than waging persistent struggle to make this world a more gentle and civilised place.

Don Franks

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