Urewera 10 years on – any lessons to remember?


On the 10th anniversary of the Urewera raids we should recount the lessons – and we should remember.

Breathless police and media commentary about a cocktail of napalm bombs, terrorist cells, guns, ammunition, Maori extremists, guerrilla warfare, assassination threats against politicians, greeted the public on the 15th October 2007. You name it – the police claimed it and the media hyped it.

From the 17 arrests and the dozens searched and detained – illegally as it turned out – just four people were charged with illegal possession of firearms – two were jailed and two given home detention.

The progressive left was quick to hit back against the hysterical police narrative and bring some semblance of sanity and common sense to the public debate. This was highly successful and within 24 hours some elements of the media and much of the public were expressing scepticism concerning the police claims.

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We worked with Tuhoe activists to organise marches and public demonstrations highlighting the appalling police behaviour and calling for a reigning in of the surveillance state.

Subsequent developments showed we were right – the police had overreacted and dramatically overreached. They should have taken concerns about military style camps in the Urewera seriously and sent in a Maori liaison officer to find out what was happening and why.

Instead, the police deliberately side-lined their community officers in favour of a dramatic $8 million surveillance operation which they hoped would bring public justification for the massive increase in police (and SIS) powers and resources in the wake of the US September 11 attacks. New Zealand had become a surveillance state and these raids would show that while we didn’t have Islamic extremists, we had our own home-grown terrorists.

A lot of that initial response from the left was instinctive. We knew most of the people the police were claiming as terrorists and knew this was at least a gross over-reaction to whatever had been going on.

The most important lesson from the Urewera raids is to always be sceptical of state agencies who often have their own non-public-interest justifications for what they do.

On the other side I don’t think it’s too cynical to say the main lesson the police will have learnt is NOT that they got it wrong and couldn’t tell the difference between a bullshit conversation in a car and a credible terrorist threat but that it was a failure of PR to prepare carefully enough.

Tuhoe have their own lessons which they have been speaking about in the past few days.

It’s worth remembering too the long list of legislation passed by successive Labour and National governments to extend the surveillance state on the pretext of keeping us safe. Instead it has turned this country into a surveillance state where civil liberties and the right to privacy take second place to the powers of Big Brother to intrude into our lives.



  1. On ‘media watch’ yesterday, one of the best programmes on Nat Radio they played a piece from the time of Duncan Garner saying someone close to what was happening told him there had been napalm let off. Now wouldn’t it be nice if Duncan Garner fronted up and said who that someone was at the time. This was the biggest beat up and big fat lie that the police have never really been answerable for. How did napalm get into the picture. Every kiwi should watch ‘operation 8’ and see how our police and secret service bullshit their way to more legislation and more money.

  2. Excellent Post @ J M. Lest we forget.

    The theme of your Post is why I have grave reservations for re-cultivating our colonial history to dig up divisive dirt re how a few cunning bastards came here and swindled Maori out of their birthright and their spiritual connectedness, the latter of which we non Maori could learn hugely from.

    History is history. It can wait. Now, is now, however, and Maori and non Maori
    really need to come together urgently to protect each other against the new horrors which are about to befall us all.
    Corporate Colonisation.
    A terrible spectre. A many headed beast without soul, spirit, class, humour, wit or intellect. A cancer of a thing who’s only motivation is growth and has already given us human beings the dubious moniker of ‘consumer’. It’s already relegated us to the status of some single cell organism. One that works, often in banal ‘occupations’ to earn notes of credit ( debt) to buy,mostly shit we don’t need, to then ‘consume’, to then excrete. Repeat until death. And what a miserable death. Spent and crippled and if we’re ‘lucky’ we limp to a ‘rest home’ where, like the chickens we ate to fuel our carcasses to get there ( Irony) are farmed like battery hens until our money’s harvested from our dead hands by soulless minions to be returned to society via Banksters to be re lent to buy yet more tasteless tack.
    No art, no culture born of wit, poetry or love. None of that shit. No need for that mate. All we need is three feeds a day and the tele.
    Our police, it doesn’t really need to be said, are, in some cases I’m sure, unwilling puppets to the Corporate Colonisers but what choice do they have when now we have paula bennett as minister of police. Is that a chill looking for a spine to run up or am I imagining things?
    It’s equally chilling to ponder that it is only the collective us who can bring about change to ‘things’.
    And 44.4% of the ‘us’ chose to stay with their abusers.

    The potency of that particular psychology is ably addressed here when we add this:
    Nobel prize.

    To this.
    Silicon Valley.

    • Yep Countryboy;

      I stand with you on this!!!

      It was abslutely a case of Government wheeling the big stick as an authoritarian approach they appeared to relish.

      We mere mortals are not keen on heavy handed solutiions.

      A tradional Maori Korero would have simply resolved the situation easily.

      Tuhoe had never agreed to a Waitangi settlement from 1840 so they were a special case that needed some sensitivity and the raid was contrarary to those rules of engagement.

  3. Typical terror tactics of the white supremacist, male European, who must be stamped out, first dehumanized – stripped of his self-awarded superiority, pretensions to the “cannon” and to culture!

    I don’t want to gaslight, but we really must block the attempts to close in on our open society at every opportunity.

    As a genetic male who identifies as a woman but who dresses as a man I have total authority (but please don’t ask me what my “previous job” was).

  4. Corporate Colonisation.
    A terrible spectre. A many headed beast without soul, spirit, class, humour, wit or intellect.

    I have been in several different countries, and continents, in the last few months. They still have human values;- humour, culture, honour, soul, class, spirit and dignity. It is in New Zealand where something has gone terribly wrong. Yep three feds a day, a good crap, and the telly and a few beers to make it more pleasant, mate. State TV is soulless drivel, that is destined to destroy the last vestiges of your fragile mind. Still its better when the meds finally kick in. Korporate Kolonialism
    mate. Cunt see anything better on the horizon, or the telly for that matter, mate.
    Time for a wank break to the Kadarshians. And what a supreme cultural experience! Borrowed from America, who cares. White trash is white trash everywhere. I raise my tinny to Korporate Kolonialism. Mateeeyyy…

    Kim Kardashian poses as ‘America’s New First Lady’ with North West …
    Aug 28, 2017 … With a TV reality star actually in the White House, the presidential title … Melania Trump as America’s First Lady and Kim Kardashian West?

  5. Let is also remember the anniversary of the Dotcom Mansion raid, once that one is upon us. Massive abuse of state power, and endless breaches of human rights, in a country where governments like to decorate themselves with talk about how transparent, honest, least corrupt and humane we are supposed to be. Rule of law, human rights, Bill of Rights Act, yeah right.

    The truth always looks a bit less appealing.

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