22 Mar 2012

Raids case could have been averted, say activist

7:58 am on 22 March 2012

A veteran activist says raids in Te Urewera Ranges could have been avoided if Maori liaison officers were used.

A jury in the Auckland High Court on Tuesday found Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey guilty of the illegal possession of firearms and restricted weapons.

The case was brought following the raids in Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Wellington in 2007.

John Minto, an activist and spokesperson for Global Peace and Justice Auckland, says New Zealand's security and surveillance attitudes changed dramatically after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.

The police considered using the Terrorism Suppression Act to lay charges against those arrested during the raids but were told there was not enough evidence.

Mr Minto says New Zealand has never been associated with terrorism, and the raids were simply an attack on activism.

He says the police should have talked to Maori liaison officers to find out what was going on, rather than launching a massive surveillance operation.