From broken window to broken fast

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira did little to dispel his activist reputation in a busy day that started in custody and saw him mark the end of a beneficiary protester's 30-day hunger strike.

The Tai Tokerau MP was arrested on Thursday night, with six protesters from the Tamaki Housing Action Group who are fighting the removal of state houses in the East Auckland suburb.

Mr Harawira allegedly locked himself in his car and turned his music up loud, blocking a Housing New Zealand-contracted truck-and-trailer unit from accessing a property earmarked for redevelopment.

That prompted police to smash a window and remove him.

Mr Harawira has been charged with failing to comply with a police direction, which he said was "seriously over the top".

Yesterday morning, after his release from custody, Mr Harawira drove north to Kaikohe in his electorate to mark the end of a beneficiary's 30-day hunger strike.

Sam Kuha, 59, stopped eating after his request for a $40 food grant was declined and he refused to see a budget adviser because he would have had to wait two weeks.

Mr Harawira picked up the tab at Kaikohe's Cafe Malaahi, where he and Mr Kuha ordered a Broadway Breakie complete with eggs, sausages, hash browns, bacon and two flat whites.

Mr Kuha struggled with his first meal in a month and managed to finish only about half of the big breakfast.

But the hunger strike has been chalked up as a victory after Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said she would meet Mr Kuha and listen to his concerns if he gave up his protest.

Mr Harawira said he was honoured to be with Mr Kuha as he broke his hunger strike. But he told media that Thursday night's arrest was "bloody over the top" and he questioned whether the courts would bother issuing a warrant for his arrest if he failed to turn up for the hearing.

Mr Harawira, who was raised in a state house, said the people of Glen Innes had been torn apart by a deliberate strategy to evict families who had grown up, married and had children and mokopuna there over the past 40 years.

"I have seen people in despair over the broken promises ..." he said.

The Tamaki Housing Action Group claims the redevelopment is pulling apart the Glen Innes community for the purpose of privatising state houses.

There have been allegations police were heavy-handed in their handling of protesters but police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said officers had been justified in their actions.

Police had made the decision to break Mr Harawira's window only after "exhaustive" efforts to engage him in dialogue failed.

Ms Hegarty said officers had even written a message on paper and placed it on his windscreen.


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