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Urewera 17 Profile: Emily Bailey

Scoop.co.nz is continuing to profilie each of the so-called terrorists arrested on Monday 15th October and now known as the Urewera 17. Our fifth profile is of Wellington activist Emily Bailey whose name suppression was lifted in Auckland this afternoon. Emily is the older sister of identical twins - and fellow "terror" accused - Rongomai Bailey and Ira Bailey. By order of the court we remain prohibited from publishing photos of Emily or of describing her physical appearance. The crown have announced that they are seeking leave from the Attorney General to lay Terrorism Suppression Act charges against Emily. She is due to appear again in Auckland District Court tomorrow and may make a fresh bail application. Emily Bailey also has an appeal scheduled in Auckland High Court for November 9th of the decision to deny her bail taken in Wellington District Court on October 19th.

Emily Felicity Tuhi-Ao Bailey
30 years old - Activist


By Julie Webb-Pullman

It wasn’t rain falling on the leaves that woke Emily Bailey around 6.30am Monday 15th, but burly armed police stumbling and falling down the bank as they surrounded and unceremoniously dragged her and her companion from their tent in its quiet bush setting in inner-city Wellington. Brandishing weapons, the police held the pair for several hours whilst they searched surrounding bush, and dismantled and removed her home of six months for ‘evidence.’ The environmental activist and film-maker was then arrested on seven firearms charges and packed off to solitary confinement in Arohata Women’s Prison.

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Such a harsh and lonely episode in a life otherwise lived in the heart of a close activist family, stands in grim contrast to her years of voluntary community work, and internationally-recognised contributions to environmental protection.

Emily’s social conscience manifested early - her mother remembers that she accompanied her collecting for Save the Children Fund and Amnesty International from an early age, later doing it on her own, and at age 15 she took an after-school job in order to support a World Vision child in East Africa. Her family background suggests her commitment to social justice issues is in no small part a product of her environment – her father’s iwi were from Parihaka, where peaceful resistance to the ‘land-grabbing’ of the 19th century continued until recent times.

Like his daughter, Rongomai-Ira was a well-regarded high-achiever, and well on his way to becoming the first Maori Trade Commissioner until his sudden death. Emily’s mother, a graduate whose professional life encompassed roles as a teacher, child welfare officer, and interpreter/translator, has always been very much involved in issues related to human rights and political and social justice, and together they provided a family environment in which activism was encouraged.

Taking up the baton passed on by her father’s sister Vera Bezems, whose work instigated the government inquiry into pollution and environmental degradation caused by petro-chemical waste at the Taranaki Motonui outfall, and influenced by the death of her older sister from leukemia linked to aerial and ground spraying of 245T by their local council, Emily has had a longstanding interest in, and commitment to, environment issues, and the conservation of native flora and fauna.

Since gaining a BSc in ecology and geography, the quality of Emily’s professional and voluntary work has been frequently and widely acknowledged, such as in 2003 when she was selected to be one of 20 young people to attend the Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES) World Youth Leadership Conference in Rishikesh, India, and in 2004 when she travelled with film project Kotahi Te Ao to 32 countries documenting grass-roots initiatives to positively confront pollution and environmental destruction. The project’s supporters included such notables as then-Minister of Conservation Chris Carter, investigative journalist John Pilger, the HRH Charles Prince of Wales, Princess Anne, and former Director-General of the Environment for the European Commission, Marius Enthoven.

Emily’s work history includes a variety of paid and voluntary positions, from the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Environmental and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand (ECO), to running her own organic gardening business. Her voluntary work ranges from holding workshops at the Parihaka Peace Festival, to activity with the Save Happy Valley campaign, and assisting with the development and operation of the Arlington Community Garden Project, and of Oblong, a non-profit volunteer project that provides the community with cheap access to resources such as the internet, data projectors, and film and audio equipment.

Her uncle Charles Bailey and cousin Te Reimana Bailey, both members of the New Zealand Maori Council until their deaths, are undoubtedly turning in their graves at this latest insult to tino rangatira-tanga.

ENDS

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