One of the recent events which led to the questions and conversations that this conference is invested in.
New Zealand activists held in 'anti-terrorism' raids
Oct 15, 2007
WELLINGTON (AFP) — New Zealand police arrested 17 people in a series of 'anti-terrorist' raids across the North Island Monday, with Maori and environmental activists the main target, media reports said.
In the first operation under New Zealand's Terrorism Suppression Act, police said they had information that a number of people had taken part in military-style training camps involving the use of firearms and other weapons.
"It was military-style activities they were training for," Police Commissioner Howard Broad told a media conference.
"Based on the information and the activity known to have taken place, I decided it was prudent that action should be taken in the interests of public safety."
Television Three said it had been told a napalm bomb had been tested.
Broad released few details of information obtained by police but said it was "the first time that the Terrorism Suppression Act has been considered in terms of an operation" and Prime Minister Helen Clark was kept informed of events.
He said several firearms were seized and 17 arrests made in connection with the training camps, which involved people harbouring "a range of motivations" and from various ethnicities.
Media reports said campaigners from Maori sovereignty, environmental and "peace" groups were implicated.
Among those arrested was the heavily tattooed Tame Iti, New Zealand's most prominent Maori rights campaigner.
Iti was most recently in the headlines last month when he went to Fiji to offer support to coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama.
Prime Minister Clark said she was briefed on the planned police raids last week, but she would not comment on whether she was personally at risk.
"Senior ministers have been briefed as a courtesy but this is a police decision to proceed on the basis of information they have," she said.
Asked if she was surprised by the police information, Clark said: "Yes and no, surprised at the scale and numbers of people involved".
Fairfax Media said the arrests were the culmination of months of work by a police anti-terror unit which had hundreds of hours of recordings from bugged conversations, video surveillance, and tapped cellphone calls and texts.
It understood police had video of military-style training with live ammunition in camps deep in mountain ranges and expected to find machine guns and grenades during their raids.
"These guys are serious. They are talking of killing people," a source was quoted as telling Fairfax.
The Fairfax report said investigators believed that the various groups were planning to hit targets related to their own interests but with all the hits "coordinated to cause maximum chaos and stretching police resources across the country."