Harawira fined for blocking truck

ROBERT KIDD
Last updated 18:00 25/07/2013
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira
PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
FINED: Mana Party leader Hone Harawira leaves the Auckland District Court after being found guilty of defying a police order during the protests over the state housing removals in Glenn Innes, Auckland.

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After a three-day hearing, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has been found guilty of defying a police order and fined $500.

The charge came after Harawira found himself in the middle of a protest over the removal of state housing in the Auckland suburb of Glen Innes last year.

On the night of October 11 crowds gathered at a vacant lot in Mt Wellington where one house was to be taken north on a transporter.

Police officers, who gave evidence on the first day of the defended hearing, said Harawira parked his Ford Falcon in front of the house transporter and refused to move despite them asking him and holding messages up against his window.

Eventually they smashed a back window and forcibly removed him from the scene.

Harawira, who represented himself in court, said he was there only to ensure the safety of three female protesters on the roof of the house by shining his headlights on them.

He called more than a dozen witnesses and Judge Thorburn said he would take a "broad approach" to the politician's questioning.

However, the pair butted heads as the judge asked Harawira to focus on the specific charge he was defending rather than traversing background facts.

"The case is about whether or not you refused to move your vehicle," Judge Thorburn said.

"I don't think so, judge. I think there's a wider context," Harawira replied.

Judge Thorburn said the only way he could see a defence being successful was if Harawira successfully argued the charge was unlawful.

In his closing address this afternoon, the politician said footage from a police videographer failed to prove he was blocking the truck's exit.

Harawira also focused on the wording of the particular act under which he had been charged, which talked of "the interest of the public".

He argued that his removal from the scene did not meet that criteria and he described the police actions as "precipitous, confrontational and unnecessary".

The judge disagreed but conceded it was a "very minor matter" which usually would not have garnered any exposure.

After finding Harawira guilty he paid tribute to some of the witnesses - residents of Glen Innes and protesters - and acknowledged the depth of emotion surrounding the matter.

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