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The Day the Raids Came – 2011

The Day the Raids Came  –  stories of survival and resistance to the state terror raids  –  edited by Valerie Morse  –  Rebel Press, 2010, pp168.  Reviewed by Richard Keller.

 Note:  This review in a shortened form was originally published in ‘peaceworks’, the publication of The Peace Foundation (Auckland) in 2011.

The police raids of October 15, 2007, named ‘Operation 8’ by the police and described as “anti-terrorist”, effected many people.  The Tuhoe Nation in the Ureweras were subject to a lockdown in which men, women, and children were terrorized by black clad, faceless raiders from the police anti-terrorist squad and which led to arrests.   In Wellington and other locations political activists faced breakins and other confrontations many resulting in arrests.  But also others close to those assulted and arrested were swept up by the events.  For all of these, no resolution in a court of law nor in the public consciousness has been reached even today in July, 2011.

Valerie Morse, one of the activists arrested, has gathered stories from many of those effected and published them in a book entitled “The Day the Raids Came”, Stories of survival and resistance to the state terror raids.  Rebel Press (2010, 168pp).  Each story is personal and the selection is varied.  Together they paint a picture that is compelling and enlightening.  The book begins with a quote from Milan Kundera (Czech-born French writer), which the editor suggests reflects the importance of the book, “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

Not only to remember, but also to understand, I have found useful in the stories three aspects of the individual experiences:

-What happened to each on the day?

-Why do they think it happened?

-How have they been affected since, and what are they doing now?

Below are snippets taken directly from some of the stories.  I hope they will raise your interest.

What happened on the day?

 Wellington –

==Being arrested that morning while tenting in the town belt:

I was naked and scared.  “I’m just putting on some clothes. . .”.  “Get out of the f—— tent!  Hands in the air!”.  I put on a singlet, some undies and pants, kissed (her) and stepped out of the tent.  Cops were all around me.  One was standing right in front of me, pointing his big gun right in my face.  He was wearing all black and a balaclava.

==At ‘128’ activist house after the police had busted down the door, and searched the house, one activist friend of some arrestees:

 Finally about 11:00am, . . ., they let us into the kitchen.  I had been up since 6:00am.  I had pissed six times, but hadn’t had any water or anything to eat. . . .  .

 (One of the ‘128’ caretakers)  started making an apple turnover.  I just watched in disbelief; he was just being so presumptuous.   . . . . I finished my cigarette and started helping him . . ..I got this huge butcher knife from behind the cop and brought it around the cop and then to the apples.  . . . .Maybe after they had found nothing there , they decided we weren’t so scary.

Ruatoki –

==Being stopped in a line of cars at the ‘confiscation line’ in the Ureweras:

Eventually the police got to us.  They were armed.  . . . They looked like soldiers.    . . .

I said, ‘Who are you?’   And they said whatever it was that they were called.  I said, ‘How do I know it is you?  They said, “Are you trying to be funny?’  I said, ‘No, I don’t talk to strangers.’ . . .

The two of them came in through the door.  My granddaughter started to cry…… I told her it was all right, and I put her behind me. . . .

==the kids.

 (Those two) had been arrested at home with all the kids there.  . . . After the raid, the mokopunas were really scared.  . . .If there mother moved away, they would cry for her.  They never used to do that. . . . .  

Auckland –

==After being rousted out of bed in the early morning raid in Manurewa, (she) wondered what it was about while being questioned by police:

One of the officers was adamant that there was no way I had a firearms licence.  It occurred to me then that they had obviously misinformed these guys in order to get them so heightened and amped up, . . . .  I noticed the dissipation of their anxiety the moment they realized that they had been misinformed. . . . .

Then he said, “We also want to question you about terrorism”.

Then I thought, Whoa. Hang on. That’s not a neighbour complaining about a firearm being loaded into the car out of my gun vault.  We are talking about the silly stuff now.

Why did it happened?

 ==from Ruatoki:

I think the raids and the larger “war on terrorism”, as they call it, are one and the same thing. After Bush passed the terrorism law in America he gave it to countries like Australia, Canada, England, and this country.

==who was targeted?

The people who we’re raided were ‘do-ers’ . . .  There are a lot of people who know this stuff about colonisation, about indigenous rights, . . ., but there are so few people among the lot who are actually out there doing it.

I reckon what put the s—- right up the cops was that diverse groups of people started talking to each other.

==clampdown

 The raids were a clampdown on dissidents.  People who opposed capitalism, globalization, environmental degradation etc were targeted.  The crown does not want indigenous people in this country to network and liase with ‘others’, like the anarchists, to form relationships.

==What should be the political focus:

 I don’t want rights, I want liberation! . . . .  I propose that we shift our collective focus from the ‘rights’, the ‘legislations’ . . .and instead look at what these recent attacks by the state are really about:  Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe.

How have they been effected since?

 Ruatoki –

==the hikoi.

 . . .we left the next day.  That’s how fast it went – ‘Righto, we’re going!’. And that was it; about 20 of us left Taneatua and started that hikoi down to Poneke.  It was really a spiritual cleansing.  We felt that they couldn’t just go and dump things like that and just leave it.

==the kids.

Later the kids started describing what had happened to them.  They would point to parts of the house, and show where the police smashed things . . . .. One of the mokos wouldn’t talk about it at all.  He used to just look around . . . .

My son (…) was always a loving kid.  But I noticed ever since that day, he sort of pulls himself away from being cuddled.

Wellington –

==an arrestee, after a few years:

I would like to say boldly that I’m still an activist and am not scared of the state, but that would be a lie.  I’m still an activist but not like I used to be.  Let’s just say:  I’m recharging and taking a new look at things . . .then I’ll be back.

Auckland –

 ==an arrestee:

 So it is somewhat exciting to me to hear discussions by Tuhoe of a hybrid construct they are working on called Interdependence. . . . In this way we return to the evolution of our cultures and our people. . . .  I am excited about where Tuhoe is heading, and I hope to participate without hindrance again in their world as soon as we complete this little charade with the courts.

Many of the people targeted by the raids of Operation 8 were among the most vocal political activists on various issues.  The media hype after the arrests did appear to support the attempt to build a heightened fear political atmosphere required for the so-called “war on terrorism”, and at the same time stifle dissent, by associating activism with terrorism in the public mind.   While the raids prompted a surge of support activities for the arrestees, it is likely energy has been diverted from work on some important issues.   It is uncertain how successful the raids have been in raising public fear levels in the medium term.  To combat these trends it will help to learn about what happened.   The acclaimed documentary film ‘Operation 8’ (Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones) is proving valuable in shedding light on this dark episode.  ‘The Day the Raids Came’ also helps by describing a down to earth picture with its personal stories.

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