Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I lied - I have more to say

I thought the trial would drive me to silence. I've written a lot about the raids, and a bit about the court case, but I've never explicitly outlined the political grounds that I base my solidarity on.  As I mentioned in my last post, I have found this case incredibly difficult to write about for years now.  But as the trial has proceeded I have discovered that there are things I want to say, no matter how difficult it is to do so.

Ross Burns, who is the crown prosecutor, (unfortunately he looks nothing like Mr Burns, although the name is still amusing), summarised his understanding of : "It's pretty clear that Plan A was negotiation.  If negotiation didn't work he [Tame Iti] at least felt it was in the interest of Tuhoe people to further their self determination at the point of the gun."

I think he expects his audience (not just the jury, but people like me who hear him on the radio) to be shocked by this, to condemn it out of hand.

My solidarity is based on my support of Te Mana Moutuhake o Tuhoe and if self-determination means anything, it has to include self-determination in the nature of the struggle.  If you support self-determination, Mana Moutuhake, or Tino Rangatiratanga, you have to respect those who are seeking liberation the right to determine their own struggle.

I should stop here and say that just because I would support the defendants if they were doing what Ross Burns says they were doing - doesn't mean that I think Ross Burns is right.  And even if he is right in the broader sense of Tame Iti's strategy, that doesn't mean any crime was committed, or that anyone else shared his ideas.  As a defence lawyer asked: "Was there just a bunch of people, the membership of which changed from time to time, with a myriad of motivations, ideas thoughts and objects, and perhaps - with respect - for some no idea at all."

The public defence of those charged has been based around denying the crown's case.  It is difficult to vigorously deny something, without supporting the idea that the thing you are denying is wrong (think of why 'not that there's anything wrong with that' has become a cliche).  I think the denial can give the impression of giving great significance to the small details of the crown case.  There is no crime, after all, in wearing balaclavas or in wanting to overthrow the government.

And this denial of the crown case is not the basis of my solidarity.  I think it's really important that someone says 'So what?'  to Burns's scaremongering about Tuhoe independence.

Monday, February 13, 2012


The trial begins today. 4 years, 3 months, 4 weeks and one day since the October 15th raids.  Four people are still facing charges: Tame Iti, Rangi Kemara, Emily Bailey and Urs Signer.  I will not recount the history of the case, I will just offer my solidarity. I think it's important not just to offer solidarity to the defendants but stand in solidarity with the struggle for te Mana Motuhake o TÅ«hoe.

I know I will struggle to write any more about the case.  My personal experience and political analysis  are intertwined in a way that makes it very difficult to write for a general audience.  The only thing I have to offer, besides what I have already said, is this poem:

Text of the poem