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Last Updated: Friday, 19 October 2007, 04:08 GMT 05:08 UK
NZ protest against terror raids
Tame Iti
Maori activist Tame Iti remains behind bars after the police raids
About 1,000 people have taken part in a march in northern New Zealand to protest against anti-terror raids.

The protesters, mainly Maori, carried banners and listened to speeches outside Whakatane police station.

They accused police of heavy-handed tactics during Monday's raids on alleged military-style training camps.

Seventeen people were arrested then, including Maori activists. Prosecutors say they were planning a violent campaign against the white majority.

In Whakatane, a North Island town with a large Maori population, marchers carried placards reading: "We are not terrorists, we've been terrorised" and "Don't point a gun at me, I'm under five".

Residents have been angered by reports that armed police boarded a school bus to search it. Police deny this took place.

Schoolchildren performed a traditional Maori Haka as part of the peaceful demonstration, while smaller protests were held in both Wellington and Auckland.

'Waging war'

Monday's raids were carried out in a mountainous region of the North Island.

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Police said those arrested - a mixture of Maori and environmental activists - had used firearms and other weapons at military-style training camps.

Other arrests were made at houses across the country.

Prosecutors told a court on Wednesday that 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.

A prominent Maori activist, Tame Iti, is also among those being held.

Documents obtained by the New Zealand media revealed that police had been monitoring him for 18 months. Again, they say he intended to wage war on New Zealand.

Mr Lockett has been granted bail but the remaining 16 suspects remain in custody.

The North Island raids were the first use of New Zealand's Terrorism Suppression Act.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage of anti-terror raids



SEE ALSO
Alleged Maori plot against whites
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NZ police hold 17 in terror raids
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New Zealand Maori choose new king
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NZ to probe Maori spy stories
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27 Oct 04 |  Crossing Continents

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