Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Harawira hearing: Court shown protest footage

Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira at Auckland District Court. Photo / NZ Herald
Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira at Auckland District Court. Photo / NZ Herald

Video footage of chaotic scenes at an Auckland housing protest in which Mana Party leader Hone Harawira was arrested last year has been played to a court.

Harawira was in Auckland District Court today defending a charge of failing to comply with a police instruction, an offence punishable by a $10,000 fine.

He 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.

Footage of the incident shot by a forensic police photographer was played to the court this afternoon.

Giving evidence in court, 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.

Mr Gibson, told the court it was police's lawful duty to assist the truck to leave the location.

Harawira, who represented himself in court, quizzed him about the legality of his 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.

Harawira's hearing is set down for two days.

- APNZ

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