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Court report - Day 7 - Feb 22, 2012


Court resumed this morning with the Crown's two *star* civilian witnesses - two young men who were boys when they attended a wananga in Ruatoki in January 2007.

The boys have name and image suppression.

Their testimony was about travelling to Ruatoki with their personal trainer who had been asked by Taame to give some food and exercise advice. The young men arrived in Taneatua and were taken by Taame into the bush. They were met at a roadblock and where they were frisked before being taken into to give their lessons. The discussion at the wananga focused around the benefits of meat vs vegetarianism.

Under cross examination, the boys admitted that while they were 'suprised' by the frisking at roadblock, the people apologised afterwards and the atmosphere was friendly and full of laughter. One said that they had seen 10-15 people, but only 4 guns.

One mentioned that there had been discussion about a Canadian logging corporation trespassing onto Tuhoe land. Neither boy said they knew what the reason for the camp was.

While the boys evidence was somewhat contradictory, overall they were hardly the damning evidence the crown was seeking. They said that they were doing their training to 'become better people' and that they were aware that Taame shared the goal of 'helping young Maori to a better way of living' with their trainer.

Other cross examination focused on the passage of time since they had originally attended the wananga, and the passage of time from the original 'terror' raids on 15 October 2007 and the time they were first spoken to by police in Feb 2008.

The next witness was a member of the Special Tactics and Auckland Armed Offenders Squad who has name and image suppression. His evidence focused on going in to Ruatoki in June 2007. He prepared a diagram of the marae at Taiarahia, and found a number of spent cartridge shells. He was at pains to tell the jury about a cabbage tree which had been felled by bullets, but admitted under cross examination that neither the shell casings or the tree had been examined by anyone to tell how long they had been like that.

Another police officer who has name and image suppression gave evidence in relation to the August 2007 camp. He followed people from 128 Abel Smith Street in Wellington to Palmerston North and then on to Turangi.

Detective Woodcock of the Wellington Special Investigation Group gave evidence about following Urs, Emily, Ira Bailey and antoher person around in August 2007. He admitted following people to Taupo and seeing them 'shopping' at Pak'n'Sav. Under cross examination, he was asked how many members of the Wellington SIG there are - four - Stella Howard, John Fagan, Mark Lewis and himself. He also admitted taking a 'strong interest in protests' that the people in the case were involved in, including a picket of cleaners.

Following Woodcock, a brief of evidence was read by consent of all. It simply discussed following Urs, Emily etc around Wellington in August 2007.

This was followed by another police officer with name and image suppression who also admitted observing one of the previous people charged in the case going into a 'Pak n Sav'.

Another member of the Special Tactics Group and AOS in Auckland took the stand and talked about how he posed as a jogger in the area by the river in Ruatoki in order to investigate the alleged site of the August wananga. He said he collected shell casings and took photos.

Under cross examination, he admitted that the area was effectively a rubbish dump, that the stove which forms a central part of the crown case (it has bullet holes and the outlines of a bunny rabbit and allegedly a human torso on the side) may have arrived in the area with the bullet holes in it - and well, the bunny and torso, too.

He also admitted that there were no obstacles or mentioned that it was private property on Whetu Road, that there were people playing on the bridge and swimming in the river, and that the cartridges were rusty and were not inspected by anybody who knew anything about such matters.

The final witness of the day was Detective Lunjevich from the Auckland Criminal Investigation Branch (SIG is part of this). He will be giving evidence for sometime yet. He arrived with a suitcase of his notes. He first gave evidence relating to August, but this was followed quickly by the crown's showing of the illegal video surveillance for September which took up the remainder of the afternoon.

Everybody in the court (with the crown and cops excluded) was bored to tears by the end of the day. The illegal video footage which is the centrepiece of the crown case shows a very small slice of these wananga. The crown's narrative is of course sinister, but there are so many inconsistencies in what they claim as fact. We can only hope that the jury sees through the BS of their allegations.

Court resumes at 10am tomorrow and will sit all day Friday (until 5pm due to the loss of M & Tues sittings).