News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Urewera Raids, 10 Years On

Plus no word on new government until next week, tiny houses for Taumarunui and US pulls out of UNESCO over "anti-Israel bias".
October 12, 2017, 11:22pm
Tame Iti, it's been a decade since he and 16 others were arrested in the Urewera Raids. Image by Tess McClure

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A Decade on from the Urewera Raids
This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the Urewera raids. On October 15, 2007 the Armed Offenders Squad conducted early morning searches on homes around the country, using new anti-terrorism laws to detain people they said were involved in military style training camps. Two unlawful roadblocks were set up Ruatoki and Taneatua and police dressed in black with masks and firearms removed people from vehicles while younger family members looked on. Raids around the country saw similar masked officers forcing entry into homes and searching private property. The police said those detained were looking to hurt New Zealand politicians and bomb parliament. A total of 17 people were arrested and all faced charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act. However, the Solicitor-General said the evidence was insufficient and only four were found guilty in 2012 of illegally possessing firearms. Two of those people, including prominent activist Tame Iti, faced jail time. Since the raids, no one has ever been successfully charged and convicted under the Terrorism Suppression Act from 2002.

Winnie Wants Another Week
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters announced last night the country won't know who it has chosen to form the new government with until late next week. The party has concluded negotiations with the Labour and National after five days of back-to-back meetings. Peters is yet to sign off any decision with his board, which will be meeting this Saturday, Sunday or Monday. There are nine possible governing arrangements and all were being considered. All policy discussions have finished but ministerial positions have yet to be debated, according to Peters.


Small Houses for Small Budgets
Social entrepreneurs are testing tiny houses as a solution to accommodation shortages in the King Country town of Taumarunui. The town has two tertiary education providers with some students struggling to get accommodation. The initiative is led by social worker Briar Hickling and carpenter Paroa Smallman who noticed the lack of housing. They are currently researching the idea further with support from Vodafone. Christchurch builder Ben Ingledew has pitched in and helped the pair construct a prototype house out of timber and salvaged cladding.

Killer Toothache
Research involving New Zealand scientists has found that captive orcas are suffering tooth damage from biting their steel and concrete enclosures. Most of the studied orcas teeth have been worn down to the point where pulp is exposed, posing a high-risk of disease. Treatment for damage like this usually involves drilling, the resulting hole is then left open so it can be cleaned daily to manage any infections. Four out of the five orca with the worst damage were born in captivity. Co-author Professor John Jett of Florida's Stetson University says "Teeth are incredibly important to the overall health of an animal, and the results of our study should raise serious concerns for the health and welfare of captive orca."

Jobs Go at Otago
Otago University has confirmed that it will be cutting 160 full-time staff-support jobs. The move comes after the university launched a support-services review in 2015 and accepted submissions from more than 600 groups and individuals. Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says the cuts will save the University $15 million a year which could go to core academic and research endeavours. The cuts will be made over several years. Dunedin North MP David Clark says he feels for the families and staff affected by the announcements. Clark adds that many of these people will have tough decisions to make and mortgages to pay. The length of the staff's employment will be used to determine redundancy packages.


The United States has pulled out of the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation,claiming the body has an "anti-Israel bias". Mustafa Barghout, who is The Secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, says the decision shows a "complete and total bias" towards Israel calling the move "counterproductive and shameful." In 2011, the U.S. stopped paying funds to UNESCO after the decision was made to grant Palestine full membership of the body. Irina Bokova, UNESCO's outgoing director-general, says "UNESCO has never been more important for the US, or the US for UNESCO given the rise of extreme violence and terrorism." Israel has also vowed to leave UNESCO.

Narrowing Divide in Palestine
The Palestinian political parties Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt yesterday. The head of the Palestinian authority, Azzam al-Ahmad says that both parties would not return to the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories until they had an agreement that would put aside the rift between the parties forever. This comes after the Palestinian authority assembled in Cairo earlier in the week in an effort to implement a 2011 unity agreement. Al-Ahmad adds that the final agreement hopes to put an end to the occupation and to have a Palestinian, independent, sovereign state with East Jerusalem as the capital." The deal stipulates that Fatah and Hamas shall form an interim government before the national council, presidential and legislative elections are held within one year of its signing.

Support for One Spain
This Thursday marked Spain's national day with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in Barcelona to show their support for a united country in a time of political turmoil. The country has been wrapped up in civil protests for a number of weeks amidst the political tensions between the Madrid and the Catalan government's. This follows the contested October 1 independence referendum and the resulting conflict. The Catalan President Carles Puigdemont declared independence on Tuesday before opting for discussion with the Spanish government.

Reporting by Reuben McLaren, Ollie Powell, Jean Bell and Lillian Hanly.