Opinion by Hone Harawira
Like hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders I was also raised in a state house but it wasn’t till I grew up that I truly appreciated the commitment that government used to make to ensuring that every family had a decent home to live in. Those days are sadly gone.
For some time now I have watched the Minister of Housing, Phil Heatley, make disparaging remarks about the poor and bad jokes about evicting them from their homes, including his National Party colleagues making raucous comments about the folks at Glen Innes.
I have watched the people of Glen Innes torn apart by a deliberate government strategy to evict families who have grown up, married and had children and mokopuna there over the past 40 years.
I have seen people in despair over the broken promises and the flat out lies from government ministers and their officials who promised them they “would never have to leave”.
I have seen a community grow in strength as they learned to defend themselves.
I have watched government try to break that spirit with a massive police presence, truck-trailers, tow trucks, contractors and a massive wage bill, week after week, as they pull homes out of Glen Innes so that government can sell the land to their property developer friends who will build homes that nobody in GI can afford to rent.
And yet through all that I see by their actions, the love that the people of GI have for their neighbours, their friends and their community, and the support they get from all over Auckland.
Last night I heard young people describe the police brutality of the previous week; I saw three young women perched for hours on a house roof to stop its removal; I saw kaumatua and kuia trying to stop the police from arresting peaceful protesters; I saw Pacific Islanders standing alongside their Maori cousins; and I saw journalists and council workers and students and musicians and grandmothers and teachers standing together to defend the rights of the poor.
And today I ask that we recognise them for their efforts and send the community of Glen Innes and their supporters all the support we can.
*Hone Harawira will appear in Auckland District Court on Wednesday to face a charge of “failing to remove a vehicle from a road”.
Image at top: Facebook