Urewera four – fight the imprisonments of Iti and Kemara

Byron Clark

The crown has decided not to retry the Urewera 4 on the charge of Participation in an Organised Criminal Group. The group were originally threatened with charges under new terrorism laws after being arrested in a series of raids on October 15, 2007. 13 others were arrested but charges against them have been dropped. The only charges the state could make stick were minor firearms offenses against Tame Iti, Rangi Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey.

“The whole case should never have gone ahead.” Commented Ana Cocker from the October 15th Solidarity Group, adding that the firearms charges should also be thrown out. “The charge of Participation was laid specifically in order that the crown could use the illegally obtained evidence. The crown needed to justify Operation 8 and their invasion and spying on Te Urewera, by bringing convictions at any cost” said Crooker “Nothing in this case has been about so-called justice, it is all about criminalising dissent and halting aspirations for Tuhoe autonomy.”

On May 24 Iti, Kemara, Signer and Bailey were sentenced on the firearms charges. Signer and Bailey were sentenced to 9 months home detention while Iti and Kemara were sentenced to more than 2 years in prison. Along with other people and organisations we support their immediate release.


  1. I would like to express my disappointment and sadness with Ana Crooker’s stance on this. I read the transcripts obtained by Fairfax and it read like a horror story. It wasn’t only minor firearms offences they should have been charged with. A lot more should have gone to prison and for a lot longer. On charges such as conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to kidnap.

    Most have willfully ignored this painful evidence, rallying behind these evil men and women by turning this into a racial/human rights debacle. It is not. It never was. Quite the opposite, this was, in fact, the selfish, reckless and murderous intent of a few that brought the brutally overdone ( yet predictable ), knee-jerk reaction which culminated in armed police boarding a school bus. Of course this is going to upstage the truth. But really, what did you all expect? Men and women dressed in bunny suits and armed with water pistols?

    The so-called Urewera Four have been turned into indigenous working class martyrs when in fact, they were, in actuality, planning and preparing to commit terrible atrocities. Socialism was never meant to favor one specific race by whitewashing an attempt to kidnap and murder the men, women and children of another. On this point alone I believe the Workers Party has lost its way, becoming bogged down in the same stickiness of conciliatory, rhetorical muck that renders much of our political system largely useless. Please don’t go any further to right comrades or we’ll all end up looking as socially inept as the Labour Party

    George Orwell would turn in his grave at the notion of leaving out the juicy, scandalous hard bits that actually might annoy someone. Don’t get me wrong – you aren’t the only ones. Even Campbell Live tried to whitewash it as mere bluster and hot-air on the very day Fairfax published those transcripts.

    I would encourage my learned comrades to Google the Urewera transcripts and decide for yourselves. And please remember Orwell’s dire warning to us, “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.” Let’s not go down that road comrades. The road of rewriting history just to avoid pissing off the wrong people. What follows after that is true tyranny.

    What are we about again? The workers. Ooooohhh – that’s right! THE WORKERS! ( Could someone please tell the Labour Party that? )

    Solidarity Forever,


    • Sentencing was a thoroughly political attack on te mana motuhake o Tuhoe. The Crown weren’t able to get them on terrorism charges, or organised crime charges, so the comparatively minor arms charges got an escalated sentence.

      Solidarity is necessary regardless of whether we agree with their tactics.

      • David, how much was spent by the police? Millions…
        They spent years on this, millions on this, and they found a few of the 100,000’s of unregistered guns floating around NZ.
        Willie Jackson has described what they were doing as malarkey. I would agree with that. If they were so dangerous, why did John Key go into the bush and meet with Tuhoe/Tame Iti?
        Like many examples overseas, this seems to be another example of police justifying their budgets by trying to do something, to keep up appearances.

  2. Don Franks says:

    “But really, what did you all expect? Men and women dressed in bunny suits and armed with water pistols?”

    Actually David, in terms of a serous assault on the capitalist state, that’s pretty much where they were at.

    From where I could see, the paint ball stuff in the bush looked like an extension of previous anarchist masks and plastic guns demos outside McDonalds.

    I’ve read all the court stuff too. It does not vindicate your fears.

    The police trashing of Ruatoki, the jailing and detention of the four and the persecution of others was massively inappropriate and unjust. Such actions will be repeated as long as capitalism exists.

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