The Ruatoki Valley 'Anti-terrorism' Police Raids: Losing 'Hearts and Minds' in Te Urewera

Jeffrey Alan Sluka


This paper was written in response to being invited to be the guest speaker at the one year commemoration of the 2007 police ‘antiterrorism’ raids in the Rūātoki Valley, and forty copies were distributed at the talk, held at the Te Rewarewa marae in Rūāatoki. Addressing an audience of Tūhoe and their guests, it presents perspectives from political anthropology which would be relevant to their experiences. I describe my research on the conflict in Northern Ireland and relate it to the ‘anti-terrorism’ raids in New Zealand, address the debate about ‘terrorists’ and ‘freedom fighters’ and identify how indigenous and ethno-national armed resistance has been misrepresented as ‘terrorism,’ provide a critical introduction to the concept of ‘terrorism’ and the significant criticisms anthropologists and others have concerning how it evolved and has been used mainly for the purposes of state propaganda and political control. I argue that the Ruatoki Valley ‘anti-terrorism’ raids can be interpreted as a form of pre-emptive counterinsurgency operation during which acts amounting to state terrorism caused significant ‘collateral damage’ to innocent members of the community. I conclude that raids not only failed in their stated aim to protect New Zealand from ‘terrorism’ but, by losing the ‘hearts and minds’ of local people, possibly increased the potential for political violence or ‘terrorism’ in this country.


Terrorism, police operations, Maori sovereignty

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