15th February 2016 (Highly recommended listen)
The former New Zealand soldier Ko Haapu, held without any charge in a maximum security prison in Perth, has written an angry open letter to Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. RNZ's Jason TeKare reads the letter verbatim.
A special message from Ko Haapu:
"I am furious the W.A police force are now back to harassing my family while I am locked up they are just trying their hardest to find something to pin on me. Something they will never find as their is nothing to find.
Last time this harassment happened, pulling over my partner numerous times for licence checks then never actually checking her licence, following her to work, sitting outside of my home the extreme stress on us resulted in us losing our unborn child, now you want me to hurt all over again?? We lost our baby and have to start all over again because Peter Dutton wants to put us through this emotional roller-coaster by keeping me away from my family?????
Has the minister Peter Dutton gone this low to do this? I have a right to live like anyone else in this world, freely I am human and deserve human rights no Matter what I wear on my back. I have a partner and children who need me now more than ever getting back to FIFO work to support my family is my main priority, My children need my help financially and you, you greedy man will not allow it.
You are more worried about the patch on my back than the uniform I put on to support my family. Believe it or not, I am all about my family, I love them and I want this to all be over. Let me go home to them. Enough is enough my family has been through so much, as have i. The emotional pressure you have put upon us is something a childish weak man like you will never understand you have tried and tried to rip us apart but that wont happen. Is it fair to take me away from our little girl?
Please explain to me how that is fair?? Is it fair for an innocent child to suffer the hurt and feel the burden we do? A burden that was made worse by the loss of our baby? Now you are doing it all over again by trying to keep us apart.
They are doing their best in here and outside to get me to lose the discipline I have by the ill treatment I endure In this maximum security prison as am immigration DETAINEE but the encouraging words and support I received from a former superior officer from the military have helped "from one red diamond to another red diamond, do not lose discipline".
I am trying but at times it is hard, but I will continue to do so and exercise the strength of my brain to overcome this situation. I thank everyone that has supported me so far from high above and around the world. Thank you KO"
Updated at 6:33 pm on 19 January 2016
The partner of a former New Zealand soldier being held in an Australian prison without charge says he's locked in his cell for most of the day.
Watch the full Checkpoint With John Campbell interview with Teresa Mariner here:
Ko Haapu was a bodyguard for Prime Minister John Key in Afghanistan in 2010.
He has been detained in Perth since October and faces deportation because he is a member of a bikie gang, despite having no criminal record.
His partner Teresa Mariner told Checkpoint with John Campbell he was locked in his cell nearly all day.
"He gets let out for his meals and to have a shower and then he's locked back in his cell for the rest of the day," Ms Mariner said.
She said being locked up in the maximum security prison without charge was affecting his mental state.
"He's really, really angry," she said. "He's let down, he's upset, he's confused."
"We can't get any information as to why he's there, [or] how long he's going to be there from anybody."
Ms Mariner said it was as if the guards were trying to break him, to justify his deportation.
"He has his bad days where he's really frustrated and I sort of try talk to him," she said. "They're just trying to push and they're trying to get the reaction they want."
She said it was hard to stay calm when surrounded by "murderers and rapists and all sorts of people".
"They can't be the nicest people to be around, especially when you're not a criminal," she said.
"He's in that prison, and he's being treated as a prisoner. But as far as we're concerned, he's an immigration detainee."
Ms Mariner said they had experienced a lot of problems with the prison system, including last minute cancelling of bookings, sexual remarks from a guard, and their daughter being denied entry to a child-friendly Christmas party.
Date November 11, 2015
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is standing by his decision to revoke the visa of a Maori infantryman who was decorated for his service in Afghanistan and has no criminal record in Australia or New Zealand.
The decision has prompted supporters to set up a petition calling for the decision to be overturned and complaints in the New Zealand Parliament.
Marama Fox, a member of the Maori Party, described the decision as abhorrent and embarrassing, declaring: "I think the Australian government has forgotten what the Anzac spirit actually means. They are treating Kiwis in Australia as less than second-class citizens."
Lance Corporal Ngati Kanohi Haapu during recovery operations after the Christchurch earthquake, 2011. Photo: SNPA
Ms Fox raised the issue with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key in their Parliament on Tuesday and was planning to table details of the man's war record on Wednesday. Mr Key said he was unaware of the case.
It has since emerged that Mr Key shook the hand of the former soldier, Mr Ngati Kanohi Haapu, who is better known as Ko, when the New Zealand prime minister visited troops in Afghanistan. It is also asserted by Ko's supporters that he was assigned to the detail protecting Mr Key during the visit.
Former New Zealand soldier, Toby Costello, had collected almost 500 names after starting a petition on Wednesday, many from former comrades of Ko. "He's a really nice dude and he doesn't deserve this," Mr Costello said.
Former Lance Corporal Ngati Kanohi Haapu is being held in prison. Photo: Facebook
"He's a morally upstanding person."
A spokesman for Mr Dutton said it was open to Ko to challenge the decision, but declined to offer specific reasons why the visa had been revoked.
"A person does not pass the character test if the minister reasonably suspects that the person has been or is a member of a group or organisation which has been involved in criminal conduct," he said.
"The minister can rely, not only an individual's criminal record, but also on protected information from the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Federal Police and other intelligence agencies."
Ko was involved in four serious incidents during his deployment, including one where one of his comrades died and two were seriously injured.
He received three medals of honour before leaving the military in 2012 and moving to Australia, where his supporters say he formed a relationship with a woman, became a father figure to her son and found work as a fly in, fly out worker on the West Australian mines.
Ko was arrested last week while visiting a friend at Casuarina Prison and had his visa revoked, apparently on the basis that he is a member of an outlaw motorcycle club, the Rebels, which is not a criminal organisation in WA.
His lawyers believe Mr Dutton was unaware of his military background and lack of prior convictions in New Zealand or Australia. They are asking that he be released from prison pending a review of the decision to revoke the visa.
"Here is an example of somebody of unquestionable character, who has been picked up for no good reason that we can see, except that he belongs to a bikie club and he visited someone in prison," Ms Fox said.
"Do Kiwis need to be worried now that if they visit someone in prison, they will have their visas taken off them and be sent back to New Zealand?"
Ms Fox said the issue raised serious questions about Australia's bid to become a member of the United Nations' human rights council.
Ko's lawyers say he spent four days in solitary confinement at the Casaurina Prison, on the basis that he is security threat.
"It's hard to reconcile being seen as a security risk when he gave so much to the Anzac cause," lawyer Michael Pena-Rees said.
Click image to watch video
HE’S a decorated war hero being held in solitary confinement in an Australian prison — and New Zealand is furious about it.
Former Lance Corporal Ko Rutene, originally from New Zealand, is being held in a high security jail in Western Australia even though he hasn’t been charged with a crime and has never spent time behind bars.
Instead, Mr Rutene has had his visa revoked.
It seems he’s failed Australia’s character test under immigration laws that allows authorities to detain non-citizens.
His case was mentioned in the New Zealand Parliament yesterday by opposition MPs trying to embarrass Prime Minister John Key over New Zealanders being held in Australian detention centres.
Mr Rutene’s lawyer, Michael Pena-Rees, told the New Zealand Herald the former lance corporal was part of the “Quick Reaction Force”, which rescued troops that came under attack from insurgents.
He said Mr Rutene, who moved to Australia in 2012, had no criminal record and had an “exceptional good character”.
But the point of contention is Mr Rutene’s association with a motorcycle club.
“The Rebels OMC is not a criminal organisation in Western Australia,” he said.
Mr Rutene was awarded three medals of honour as a result of his service— the service medal for Operational Service in Afghanistan, a medal recognising his tour of duty in Afghanistan, and the ISAF medal, a joint service award for his service in New Zealand and abroad, Stuff reported, and responded to a serious attack where a Kiwi soldier died and two were seriously injured.
Rutene was tasked with protecting the unit and evacuating the injured.
“Ko was deeply affected by this attack as he personally knew [the dead soldier] and was tasked to convey the fallen comrade’s body from the attack area,” Mr Pena-Rees said.
The lawyer claimed Mr Rutene was forcibly detained and threatened with tasers by police when they came to take him away.
Laws introduced in December allow the Government to deport foreign born people who have served up to 12 months jail or who fail character tests.
Last updated 15:34, November 12 2015
Prime Minister John Key says he has "no clue" what former Kiwi soldier Ko Haapu is alleged to have done to be locked up in a maximum security Perth prison.
Former Lance Corporal Ngati Kanohi Te Eke Haapu, better known as Ko, was detained in Australia just over a week ago because his visa was revoked on the grounds he is a member of a motorcycle club.
Haapu served in Afghanistan and was part of a team that protected Key during a secret trip to Afghanistan five years ago.
Key said he recognised Haapu once he saw photos of him.
"I remembered his face when I saw the picture - yes, I remember him.
"He was part of a team of people that looked after me when I was in Afghanistan, when I went to both Kabul then up to Bamyan."
He said he was not familiar with the details of Haapu's case as the Australians "won't give that to us".
However, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had indicated that in addition to "bad character" concerns, there was additional information that supported his detention.
"There seems to also be other information that the Australians have, that the minister's pointed to - I don't know what that is," Key said.
He did not intend to intervene on Haapu's behalf, but said the Government was trying to help all detainees with their appeals.
"We have no clue what the man is alleged to have done wrong, if anything - Australia's going to have to face those issues.
"All I can do is what I am doing, giving them as much support and resources...so they're in a better place to lodge that appeal."
"LOVABLE AND LOYAL"
Andrew Pomare, 26, served in Afghanistan with Haapu in 2010 and said Key spent time with their battalion asking about the operation.
"We did personal protection of the prime minister when he came over," Pomare said.
"I remember seeing him and then he shook our hands - me and Ko and the rest of the boys. Then he wanted to go look at the shops and that sort of stuff."
He said they were attached to the SIS, to "give them a hand".
"He [Key] sat down and had a conversation. He wanted to know our views on what we think about 'are we doing the right thing?' and 'are we doing a good job at what we do?'. And he just answered all our questions and queries."
Pomare said his group, including Haapu, also guarded the media who went with Key on the trip. He described Haapu as a "loveable person", "loyal", and someone who "cares more about everyone else than himself, really".
A friend, who did not want to be named, was with Haapu when he was arrested. She said about seven or eight cars surrounded hers as they were driving out of Casuarina prison after visiting a friend.
"I saw a taser being pointed at his window, someone opened my door and pulled my keys out," she said.
"He wasn't resisting or anything, he was on the ground for a little bit."
Police put him in a truck and took him back to the prison. She has visited Haapu and said he is "alright" and is keeping his spirits up.
Haapu has received a number of service medals.
His lawyer Michael Pena-Rees said that in 2010 Haapu served in Afghanistan as a member of a "Quick Reaction Force", whose job was to rescue units who were under attack from insurgents.
He responded to four separate incidents during his deployment, including an attack where a Kiwi soldier died and two were seriously injured.
He was tasked with protecting the unit and evacuating the injured.
"Ko was deeply affected by this attack as he personally knew Lieutenant Timothy [O'Donnell] and was tasked to convey the fallen comrade's body from the attack area," Pena-Rees said.
A petition to the Australian immigration minister for Haapu's release has been started by friend, and former Kiwi soldier, Toby Costello.
He described Haapu as "a real good dude" with a high moral standard.
"Everyone wants to do something about it," Costello said.
"There's so many people out there who have his back."
Costello, who also served in Afghanistan, said that he had met Haapu three years ago in Perth through some army friends.
He said it was nice to have a group of friends after leaving the army, who could all keep each other in check.
"His morals are on point," Costello said.
Haapu was someone he could always call whenever he was feeling low. When Costello's mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, Haapu texted her even though he didn't know her, which spoke to his character, Costello said.
More than 1200 people have signed the petition since it opened on Wednesday. Some of them know Haapu personally and have left messages of support.
"We were part of the same patrol in Afghanistan. Some bonds go deeper than blood. He's a father to a child in Australia and a partner as well [sic]. He has no criminal offences in Australia or NZ. Stay strong Ko!", wrote Edward Brown.
"I believe that konohi is a great man i known him for many years . He's help me when I was in need [sic]" wrote Jade Rau.
A spokesperson for Dutton said: "A person does not pass the character test if the Minister reasonably suspects that the person has been or is a member of a group or organisation which has been involved in criminal conduct."
They said they would not be releasing a statement on Haapu's case.
November 11, 2015, 1:00 am
A trans-Tasman row is brewing over Australia’s “shameful” treatment of a former New Zealand soldier who is facing deportation because of his links to a Perth bikie gang.
Rebels member Ko Haapu served alongside Australian and US troops in Afghanistan and is understood to have no criminal record in Australia or New Zealand.
“Our countries have built a relationship of friendship that stretches across the Tasman but that relationship is being ignored.
“It seems like Australia does not really care.”
Mr Haapu’s lawyer Michael Pena-Rees said his client had been a member of a rescue squad in Afghanistan that helped extract trapped or injured soldiers from hostile situations.
During one mission, his team spent 28 hours pinned down by Taliban insurgents while supporting several badly injured soldiers who had been hit by a roadside bomb.
An officer had also been killed and Mr Haapu helped retrieve his body from the battlefield so it could be flown home.
“You cannot leave a serviceman like Mr Haapu sitting rotting in a prison, especially when he has done nothing wrong other than to have joined a club that you do not like,” Mr Pena-Rees said.
“Enough is enough and the Government needs to let him out.”
Mr Haapu is one of four Rebels bikies from Perth fighting attempts to send them home to New Zealand as part of a crackdown on “undesirable” non-citizens.
The Federal Government has made no apologies for the policy, despite concerns being raised with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a recent trip to New Zealand.
Mr Pena-Rees said he would seek an injunction on behalf of Mr Haapu preventing him being deported while all avenues were explored.
‘Doesn’t the PM of NZ remember me?’ asks detained ex-Kiwi soldier'
Debates are escalating over the former Kiwi soldier who was part of the prime minister's security detail in Afghanistan five years ago, being held on Christmas Island without charge. The extent of the damage done at Christmas Island is revealed after new videos have emerged of the damage left following the riots over the last few days.
A decorated former soldier who faces deportation from Australia as a security risk – despite a military record including acting as bodyguard for the New Zealandprime minister in Afghanistan – has asked from prison: “Doesn’t John Key remember me?”
A campaign in support of former Lance Corporal Ngati Kanohi Te Eke Haapu aka Ko Haapu and Ko Rutene
Ko Haapu served in the New Zealand Army from 2008 to about 2011. He served in Afghanistan in 2010 and was part of a protection detail when Prime Minister John Key visited Afghanistan. His lawyer says he has some PTSD and we have established that he also sustained a back injury on deployment.
He moved to Australia and worked for four years as a scaffolder in the mines before he was detained. He has a partner and her son in his new family. He did have some form of association with the Rebels MC Club or Gang. We assume that is the reaason he is being held.
Early in November 2015 he was arrested as he left Casuarina Maximum Security Prison after visiting a prisoner. His partner Teresa describes that arrest in her interview with John Cambell (see below). He was immmediately put into solitary confinement and after four days his lawyer had him released from solitary. According to the lawyer the prison governor was shocked when he found out Ko Haapu’s background.
Ko Haapu has no prior convictions and no charges pending. He was initially held under Section 501 of the Immigration Act 1958. That section allows the Minister to remove a visa on character grounds. I understand he is now being held under Section 503 on grounds the Minister does not have to disclose.
We suspect that the “intelligence” Minister Dutton is relying on to confine Ko in maximum security is itself suspect. His continued detention without declared reason hints at the probability that they are still searching for reasonable grounds.
On Friday 5th February 2016 he was supposed to have a directions hearing at which his fate would be decided and declared. It was cancelled without notice. Understandably Ko has not taken that well and he faces an uncertain future not knowing how long he will be held in maximum security, or why.
In maximum security Ko Haapu is being treated like a high risk convicted criminal including an invasive strip search just a few days ago (about 5 Feb 2016) for no apparent reason. Ko is concerned that in an environment in which infectious diseases are common the officer searching him did not wear gloves when intrusively probing. One prison officer in particular seems to have made it his mission to break Ko and to provoke him into lashing out.
Ko has appointed Kevin Bovill from Perth to be his veteran’s welfare advocate. Kevin is a former NZ soldier who served in Vietnam in 1967. He also served in Vietnam with the Australian SAS and after his six year stint in the SAS served for another thirteen years in Norforce, the partly indigenous Army Reserve unit responsible for guarding the north. Kevin has been a welfare advocate for Australian and New Zealand war veterans for decades. He has taken up the challenge to lobby politicians and bureaucrats on both sides of the Tasman to obtain fair treatment for Ko Haapu.
Our immediate concern is that New Zealand Vaterans Affairs have refused to process his claim for his back injury. We also want NZVA to appoint a psychologist to monitor his mental health.
On the Australian side the unanswered questions are about why he is being held, why he is in maximum security rather than an immigration detention facility or a remand facility.
The lobbying continues and a campaign is being planned.
Ko Haapu’s brothers-in-arms have started a petition (see below).
2016, Jan 20. Detained former Kiwi soldier Ko Haapu awaits hearing in Australian prison
2016, Jan 19. John Campbell’s interview with Ko Haapu’s partner.
2015, Nov 14. Marama Fox on The Nation
2015, Nov 13.Online petition for release of ex-New Zealand soldier attracts thousands
2015, Nov 12. Detained former NZ soldier acknowledged
2015, Nov 12. John Key has “no clue” why Kiwi soldier who protected him has been detained
2015, Nov 12. New Zealand soldier who was PM’s bodyguard faces deportation from Australia
2015, Nov 11. Peter Dutton stands by decision to revoke visa of decorated Kiwi soldier
2015, Nov 11. Kiwi soldier detained in high security Australian prison despite committing no crime