Hone Harawira defends charge in court

By Matthew Theunissen of APNZ

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Police smashed a window in Hone Harawira's car after he ignored repeated requests to move out of the path of a truck at an Auckland housing protest last year, a court has been told.

The Mana Party leader appeared in Auckland District Court today to defend a charge of failing to comply with a police instruction, an offence punishable by a $10,000 fine.

Harawira was arrested last October when he joined protesters fighting the removal of state houses in the east Auckland suburb of Glen Innes who allegedly occupied a property being removed in preparation for redevelopment.

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 the property.

Giving evidence today, the officer in charge of the police operation, Inspector Peter Gibson, said Harawira did not move despite numerous requests by police.

"I went up to the driver's side and knocked on the window and received no response.

I then knocked even harder on the window. I received no response. The driver, Mr Harawira, was just looking straight ahead," Mr Gibson said.

He knocked some more, and even positioned himself at the front of the vehicle in Harawira's line of sight, he said.

"There was no response to that. I then went back to the driver's side again and knocked on the window once more and again received no response."

Police eventually smashed a back window of the car and arrested Harawira, along with four other protesters.

Harawira, who represented himself in court, quizzed Mr Gibson about the lawfulness of the arrest, and whether the charge was appropriate.

He asked whether Mr Gibson had heard loud music coming from his car, to which he responded he had, and whether it was even possible for him to move his car given there was a police vehicle directly behind him.

Harawira asked Mr Gibson over the feelings of Glen Innes residents set to lose their homes.

"Are you aware of the depth of feeling the people of Glenn Innes have about this issue?" he asked, and Mr Gibson said that he was.

Harawira's supporters were too numerous to fit into the court room, prompting an apology from Judge Stan Thorburn.

About two dozen protesters stationed outside the court earlier today planned to march to Auckland Town Hall during the hearing.

Mana Party member and Auckland mayoral candidate John Minto also used the occasion to launch his policy to build 20,000 state houses in the city.

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