Tuhoe activist Tame Iti has had his Valentine's Day wish
granted with the Parole Board showing him "some love".
He will be freed on parole in a little over a week's time,
having served nine months of a two and a-half year jail term.
He and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were sentenced to two and
half years in prison after being found guilty during a trial
last year of six firearms charges and not guilty of four.
The Parole Board will release Iti from prison in a little
over a week's time.
A spokeswoman said the board was satisfied Iti no longer
posed a risk to the community.
Iti will be subject to conditions but the board will not
release those before the full decision is released in the
next two days.
Late last month Iti tweeted through family members his hope
for release: "As it is valentines day...I wonder if the
parole board will show me some love."
During his sentencing in the High Court at Auckland last May,
Justice Rodney Hansen said the only appropriate sentence
could be one of jail. He described the rama or camps where
people were trained in military exercises.
While defence lawyers had said the camps had been
opportunities to learn bushcraft and skills to get security
work, Justice Hansen said the jury rejected those
"In my view, they were utterly implausible."
He said it was a mystery why Iti had devoted so much time and
money to developing "military capability" when he had been
actively involved in Tuhoe negotiations before the Waitangi
He said while there were elements of the TV comedy show Dad's
Army about the training, the intent was serious.
"As I view the evidence, in effect a private militia was
being established. Whatever the justification, that is a
frightening prospect in our society, undermining of our
democratic institutions and anathema to our way of life."
He said the actions had damaged the "growing but fragile"
trust between the Crown and Tuhoe that goes back to armed
conflict in the 19th century.
Justice Hansen said there had been a focus on the damage done
by the police raids in the Tuhoe region in October, 2007.
"That should not divert attention from the unlawful
activities which necessitated the investigation in the first
Urs Signer and Emily Bailey were also found guilty of
firearms charges and were sentenced to nine months' home
detention, at their home in Parihaka, Taranaki.
- Edward Gay, APNZ court reporter