INDEPENDENT NEWS

Police Squad Evicts HNZ Protester

Published: Thu 15 Jul 1999 11:34 AM
A surprise Police eviction squad smashed its way into a Housing New Zealand home in Balmoral, Auckland, at around 9:30 this morning.
It was an end to a rent-strike-protest against market rents for state house tenants. Len Parker has been barricaded up in his Balmoral HNZ home since early June.
Police smashed their way into the house through the roof and through the doors.
The “smash and enter” tactics of the police are being described as “brutal” by SHAC - State Housing Action Coalition - spokesperson Peter Hughes.
Mr Hughes told Scoop this morning: “This has been an example of the ‘might is right’ approach here. There has been a total contempt for the real wishes of the public. I have seen similar things like this during the Springbok Tour in 1981, the Bastion Point evictions. Those people were 100 percent right in their stand then and were proved to be so yet they suffered the same fate as Len has at that time.”
Police say Mr Parker was arrested and taken into custody and is now at Auckland Central Police Station.
Around 30 police officers remain at the house and security guards are arriving to keep protesters from re-occupying the property.
This protest is one of around nine similar protests organised by SHAC around the Auckland region.
Mr Hughes told Scoop SHAC members plan to re-occupy the HNZ house: “The police and security will have to guard this house to keep Len out,” says Mr Hughes.
“We tried to talk to Government MPs about the lunacy of their policies. I think they [the MPs] have confined themselves to unemployment by their actions. Disregarding the so called [eviction] victories they have today the public will judge them very sharply on the way they treat the elderly and disadvantaged as they have here today.
“Our message to the incoming Government is that people will not accept this kind of behaviour. The market is not going to deliver housing for the vast majority of people requiring [rental accommodation] in this country,” Mr Hughes says. “There is talk of change, of reforms, we need action not talk.”
He says Len Parker’s protest has not been a lone-vigil but one with “vast support” from people of all walks of life. He has been on a partial rent strike for the past six years.
“There are another nine or ten more protesters here in Auckland who are going to face this same sort of treatment,” Mr Hughes says.
HNZ attempts to evict Mr Parker through more passive means have failed. Mr Parker was offered another home at a cheaper rent but turned it down.
To come - images of the police stand off, and response from the Minister of Housing’s office.
Selwyn Manning - Scoop Auckland
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