CHURCH LEADER JOINS PROTEST OVER MAORI ARRESTS

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (NiuFM News, Nove. 2) - A Te Teko religious leader is rolling up his sleeves and showing his support for the people arrested in the recent Uruwera police raids.

[PIR editor’s note: Te Teko is a town east of Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island.]

Prebysterian minister, Reverend Wayne Te Kawaa, is standing firm on his stance, as one of those who've been marching in protest at the police action.

[PIR editor’s note: Seventeen people were reportedly arrested in New Zealand last week in coordinated "anti-terror" police raids, with all but two refused bail, following a series of coordinated police "anti-terror" raids in the eastern-central region of the country’s North Island. Charges filed include possession of firearms and Molotov cocktails.]

Te Kawaa says Winston Peters' claim that those demonstrating in support of the 17 who've been arrested are "separatists" are unjustified.

He says the demonstrators are ordinary New Zealanders, like himself, who're worried that police are picking on people and forgetting they have civil rights. (listen)

Te Kawaa added that he and others grew up hearing how the Colonial Government in the 19th Century raided the Uruwera Valley because the tribe refused to sign the Treaty of Waitangi.

(listen) (listen)

He says that long running issue of sovereignty is behind recent raids and the arrest of Tame Iti and that the children of this generation will now grow up remembering the 2007 raids.

Te Kawaa wrote to the hierarchy of the Presbyterian Church after the raids, asking members to register their concerns with Prime Minister Helen Clark and Police Minister Annette King.

He says while Tuhoe distrust the state, the tribe has a warm relationship with the Church, who helped the tribe build schools and educate its people, when Government wouldn't.

He says, thankfully, the Church has already started to voice its concern with the moderator recently saying it appears the entire tribe has been treated as terrorists.

A top Auckland lawyer is now talking to Ruatoki locals to see if they can take legal action against police, who were today buoyed by a UMR Research survey of 750 people who said they did the right thing.

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