Urewera raid pair Tame Iti and Rangikaiwhiria Kemara seek pardon

by Mihingarangi Forbes / 16 October, 2017

Help us find and write the stories Kiwis need to read

RelatedArticlesModule - Urewera

Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara. Photo / Mihingarangi Forbes

It is 10 years since Tame Iti and Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were sent to prison on firearms convictions after the 2007 Tūhoe raids, and both men now want to pursue a royal prerogative of mercy.

If it weren't for the Ta Moko etched in his face you might not recognise Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara immediately.

He and Tame Iti were sent to prison for the illegal possession of firearms but he said it's the allegations of terrorism that have been the life-long persecution.

"Where you have terrorism hanging over you it kind of overshadows everything.

"They will google your name and as soon as they see that phrase they cannot run fast enough."

On the tenth anniversary of his arrest, Mr Kemara is looking to pursue a royal prerogative of mercy.

"I'm currently in discussions with my lawyer and I know Tame is having discussion too and that is mainly to lift that veil off us for all of us that were implicated, arrested, charged and convicted because of the word terrorism it is imperative that we go through that process."

Mr Kemara is from King Country iwi Ngāti Maniapoto, an iwi labelled by the Crown last century as "rebels" after it provided shelter to other iwi at war with the British. Now he's known as a terrorist and he said it was just a continuation of a same set of ideas.

'It was absolutely terrifying for [the children] to be lined up'

Ten years ago the country woke to news of home grown terrorism.

Mr Kemara and 16 others were arrested under the Terrorism Suppression Act, and he recalls waking to multiple guns aimed at his head.

He was living with the Lambert family in Manurewa at the time and he said he is still distressed about the way police treated the children in the family home.

"They line them up against the fence very much in the firing squad formation. It was absolutely terrifying for them to be lined up and have masked men with rifles to their heads."

One of those young girls was Patricia Lambert, who told her story to the documentary makers of the film, Operation Eight.

"I just started crying and crying and my nan tried to ask if I was ok and the policeman told her to shut up and pointed the gun down at my head."

Further down the country armed police had blocked Rūātoki roads, searched cars and homes, and detained people at gunpoint.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority found some of those actions to be unlawful, unjustified and unreasonable and in 2014 the police apologised to the people of Tūhoe.

Mr Kemara was surprised at how quickly the media gathered.

"The day of the raids you had this very clued-up media that usually would take a few days to get lots of details and all of a sudden you had media that weren't Māori that had what looked like details inside a police operation."

Police said they had shutdown a group of activists running military-style guerilla training camps.

Mr Kemara, a seasoned hunter with a gun licence, remembers the wananga, or camps, very differently.

"Most of the time the guns weren't loaded. We were teaching right from the start gun safety - it was the first module. We were teaching them how to safely store, unload - and there were many licensed holders there, hundreds of people attended the wananga."

Initially he did not link his arrest to the wananga in the bush but once he had seen the police affidavit he quickly realised.

"The original accusation that came out was IRA-style terrorism, which involved making bombs and having automatic rifles and an imminent threat to the country."

He recalls media reports of Napalm bombs. In retrospect, Mr Kemara said the number of armed police and the way in which they entered the house should have been a sign of what was to come.

Charges were laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act but later withdrawn after the Solicitor General David Collins ruled they could not be used. While he wouldn't use the Act he did commend the police on their professionalism.

The Solicitor General's decision meant that any telephone interception evidence could not be used, including conversations about US President George Bush, which Mr Kemara suspects were recorded in his car.

He had a sign attached to his sun visor warning people the car may have had a recording device in it but he said it had the opposite effect and passengers would work up fantastical stories.

"We concluded that the best way to knock off George Bush was to catapult a bus onto his head but when you are clipping the story they left that bit out and just go with the part we were planning to knock off George Bush. If we were planning that we would have been charged."

This article was originally published by RNZ.


Your smartphone can double as a laptop - if you keep things simple
92759 2018-06-23 00:00:00Z Tech

Your smartphone can double as a laptop - if you ke…

by Peter Griffin

Imagine it - no need to lug your laptop around, just find a screen, plug in your phone and a portable keyboard and get to work.

Read more
Great non-kauri walks you can still do around Auckland
92721 2018-06-22 09:10:23Z Auckland Issues

Great non-kauri walks you can still do around Auck…

by Catherine Smith

There are still a heap of fantastic walks you can enjoy in and around Auckland City - despite the closure of tracks to contain kauri dieback.

Read more
You're eating microplastics in ways you don't even realise
92717 2018-06-22 08:40:24Z Environment

You're eating microplastics in ways you don't even…

by Christina Thiele and Malcolm David Hudson

We know microplastics are entering the foodchain through marine life, but the other sources that aren't from the ocean may be more worrying.

Read more
There have been great movies about Alzheimer's. The Leisure Seeker isn't one
92672 2018-06-22 00:00:00Z Movies

There have been great movies about Alzheimer's. Th…

by Peter Calder

Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren hit the road in a creaky comedy.

Read more
Tami Neilson is taking aim at sexism in the music industry
92659 2018-06-22 00:00:00Z Music

Tami Neilson is taking aim at sexism in the music …

by James Belfield

Tami Neilson’s new album Sassafrass! shows her at her most political, but there’s still room for family business.

Read more
Now that US war games are over, should you visit the Korean DMZ?
92663 2018-06-22 00:00:00Z Travel

Now that US war games are over, should you visit t…

by Brett Atkinson

Less than 100m across the planet’s most dangerous border, a North Korean soldier is playing peekaboo with a group of curious travellers.

Read more
Is the middle class squeezed or spoilt?
92685 2018-06-21 13:07:39Z Economy

Is the middle class squeezed or spoilt?

by Bonnie Sumner

If your household brings in $100,000 and you still struggle to make ends meet, is it your own fault or an indictment on today’s cost of living?

Read more
Climate change needs multi-party support in New Zealand – but is this it?
92652 2018-06-21 10:14:56Z Environment

Climate change needs multi-party support in New Ze…

by The Listener

The reality is that all parties in New Zealand need to reassess their core positions on some issues for any real action on climate change to be made.

Read more