Police 'knocked student unconscious'

ARRESTED: It was unclear what Hone Harawira had been charged with.
ARRESTED: It was unclear what Hone Harawira had been charged with.

An Auckland University student claims she was knocked unconscious and dragged to the footpath by police during a violent protest over state housing redevelopment in the Auckland suburb of Glen Innes on Thursday night. 

However, police said there were no reported injuries and they acted professionally.

Housing New Zealand has also said protesters were intimidating state housing tenants.

MP Hone Harawira was one of seven arrested during the protest that went into the early hours of Friday morning.

He was charged with failure to remove a vehicle and said police smashed a window in his car during the incident.

Others arrested were charged with obstructing police who were arresting Harawira, and those who sat on the roof of a house being moved were charged with wasting police time. 

Student Cate Bell, 20, said she has no recollection of exactly what happened but was told she was knocked over while trying to prevent the truck from removing the house.

"I don't remember because I was knocked out cold. But I was told I was pushed and smashed my head on the concrete."

She spent the night in Auckland City Hospital with severe concussion.

Harawira, leader of the Mana Party and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, said he parked over the driveway of a state house being removed from Glen Innes around 11.30pm.

"I parked my car in front of a truck and shone my light up high on the woman on the roof," Harawira said.

"I stayed in my car. They broke into my car and smashed at least one window and arrested me."

However, an Auckland Police spokeswoman said the situation was well managed by officers and that people would go to "some lengths" to discredit police.

"We absolutely believed we acted professionally," said spokewoman Noreen Hegarty.

"The situation was well managed by the officers to the extent that we bought search and rescue to take down the protesters from the roof in a manner that was safe for all those concerned."

She said there had been no injuries reported to police.

"The staff were stood down at 220am and there was nothing about reports of any injuries." 

The claims come of injuries come after HNZ yesterday hit out at protesters saying its tenants were feeling pressured to take part in protest action.

"Since the project was announced, we have been receiving regular calls from affected tenants to say they are feeling pressured to participate in protest action, which has been largely organised and run by people who are not impacted by the redevelopment," HNZ general manager of asset development Sean Bignell said.

"They are deliberately providing misinformation to families, which is causing unnecessary stress."

Bignell said the project would make Glen Innes a safer and better area to live. It would create more homes as well as warmer and drier state homes.

The Glen Innes project aimed to redevelop 156 properties to create at least 260 new houses. Of those 78 would be owned by HNZ, at least 39 would be market-based affordable houses, and the remainder would be for private sale. Another 40 state houses were being modernised in Glen Innes, with exterior upgrades to another 276 state rental houses across Tamaki.

HNZ had been keeping in regular contact with affected families, 70 of whom had chosen to transfer to other state homes early. All 70 families had transferred to homes in locations of their choice, Bignell said.

Auckland Now