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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Alleged Maori plot against whites
Tame Iti
Maori activist Tame Iti remains behind bars after the police raids
Prosecutors in New Zealand have accused a group of Maori activists arrested on Monday of planning a violent campaign against the country's white majority.

Prosecutors allege one of the defendants sent mobile phone text messages saying he was going to declare war and that white men would die.

The man, Jamie Lockett, said his words had been taken out of context.

Police arrested 17 people on Monday, during anti-terror raids targeting Maori and environmental activists.

The raids were carried out in a mountainous region where it has been claimed that guerrilla-style training camps were set up.

Police commissioner Howard Broad said those arrested had used firearms and other weapons at the military-style training camps.

One of the text messages from Mr Lockett, intercepted by police, said: "White men are going to die in this country".

Another reputedly read: "I'm declaring war on this country very soon."

'Reality check'

Prosecutors also said police had intercepted phone calls from Mr Lockett in which he allegedly said he was training to become a commando, that he did not want to see any white faces in his country and that he would kill if he did.

The New Zealand media has also obtained documents relating to another of the men arrested, Maori sovereignty campaigner Tame Iti.

The documents show that police had been monitoring him for 18 months, videoing his training camps and intercepting his text messages.

Again they claim he intended to wage war on New Zealand.

But police sources describe the movement as "comical" and "amateurish", saying that at one stage the group had bought military uniforms from an army surplus store.

Most of the suspects remain in custody although Mr Lockett has been given bail, despite police opposition.

Tame Iti was denied bail and has been remanded in custody until 24 October.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the operation was a "reality check" for New Zealanders who dismissed the threat of home-grown terrorism.

"This operation has been triggered by credible intelligence of a serious threat to New Zealand's safety and security, and the Police Association fully supports the actions taken by police yesterday," he said.

"We need to realise there are fringe elements in our society, as in all others, that draw inspiration and encouragement from extremist activities overseas that most of us would find horrifying," he added.

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