Paul Holmes – a self-confessed cocky little bastard, although we didn’t really need to hear it from him – got some things right and some things a bit wrong in a column in the NZ Herald today.
He has gone out to bat for Tame Iti and dishes up a few morsels of history to persuade us the stroppy Iti has good cause to be angry because the Tuhoe people have been given a raw deal.
The New Zealand government has always displayed a capacity for savagery and vindictiveness in their dealings with Tuhoe.
No doubt Tuhoe did suffer a raw deal.
Whether we should suffer Iti’s antics as a consequence is another matter.
But in Holmes’ book, the history explains everything.
And that’s why we cannot write off the aspirations of Tame Iti and his friends as crazy. Iti is a stylish man and a man of strong belief. I used to write him off as a cocky little bastard. But then I noticed that a lot of people wrote me off too as a cocky little bastard.
That’s where Holmes is spot on.
Indeed, he is a cocky little bastard.
He goes on –
Anyway, the police seemed to have convinced themselves that Iti and his mates were contemplating armed and organised revolution. Well, I can’t see it. Never could. The jury couldn’t, either.
But Alf’s understanding is that the jury was not convinced either way.
Otherwise it would have returned a not guilty verdict. Or a guilty verdict.
Alf relies for his information on a Stuff report –
A jury has been unable to reach a verdict on whether the Urewera Four were guilty or not of participating in an organised criminal group.
However, in the High Court at Auckland today the jury found the four – Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey – were guilty of some of the 10 firearms charges each faced.
Let’s try another report.
The NZ Herald put it this way –
The “Urewera Four” have been found guilty of some firearms charges but the jurors were not able to reach a decision on the lead charge of belonging to an organised criminal group.
However we interpret the jury’s failure to reach a verdict, Holmes proceeds to acknowledge something odd had been going on in Tuhoe country.
What about the TV3 account?
Jurors at the trial of the “Urewera Four” have reached verdicts on firearms charges but have been unable to make a decision on the lead charge of participating in an organised criminal group.
No matter how commentators interpret the meaning of the verdict, Holmes acknowledges something unusual had been going on in Tuhoe country.
… what in God’s name was going on up in the bush with all that military ordnance? It was odd, to say the least. Something was getting indecently passionate.
It was odd.
And that’s presumably why the cops became very curious.
The verdict suggests to Alf that at least some members of the jury and maybe most accepted the defence version of events.
Accordingly they would have agreed Iti and his mates were simply gearing up to get into the security business, or some such.
Alf was thinking about getting into the business too.
Would this require his staff to be familiar with making Molotov cocktails and study IRA manuals?
No matter how curious this might be, Holmes goes on to say –
Still, it was Tame Iti and Tame Iti has been stumping round that bush for years. He is an angry man but mainly, I think, theatrically angry. I don’t think he would hurt a fly.
He is a character. And what he says makes perfect sense. If the police wanted to know what he was up to, they have his cellphone number, they know where he lives. And all they had to do was talk to him.
Lots of bad buggers banged up in our prisons had cellphones too, before being rounded up for whatever crimes they committed.
This made it easy for the cops, who simply had to pick up a phone and talk to them and – sure enough – they said “It’s a fair cop, Mr Plod…I have been a naughty boy.”
A Tui billboard is appropriate at this juncture.