Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 4. 21st March 1973
From the Courts — Don Franks
From the Courts
Convicted for Lying in
Last week Kathleen Davis, an 18 year old unemployed waitress pleaded guilty in the magistrates court to a charge of being idle and disorderly. The police prosecutor told Mr Wicks S.M. that on the 13th of March '73 Miss Davis had been found "at her place of residence lying in a sleeping bag on a mattress". She had told that she was not currently employed. She had $3.60 in her possession at the time. In mitigation Miss Davis said that she had earned the money at work, which she had left a week before, and that she had only been out of Arohata Women's Borstal for a month. She was convicted and ordered to come up for sentence in three months if called upon.
Kathleen Davis committed the crime of taking a week's holiday after a term of imprisonment in the notorious Arohata. She should have stayed at her waitressing job like a good little cog in the capitalist machine. It might have been an illpaid job, she might not have enjoyed such a servile deadend occupation, but so what? That's no excuse for being idle and disorderly is it? We can't have magistrates and policemen slaving away all day while Kathleen Davis lies round ... "In a sleeping bag on a mattress". Kathleen was punished for being recently out of Arohata, for being a worker who refused to work like a robot and for thinking that she could be like the boss and take time off when she felt tike it.
We can't have working people being idle and disorderly all over the place. That's the prerogative of the people who live off the profits of their labour. The people who tax them, fire them, take their rent, take their surplus value. And the people who convict them and order them to come up for sentence in three months' if called upon.
Protest earnt Ten Days
Netana Te Ringa Mangu Mihaka (Nathan Mihaka to the "Evening Post" is currently serving ten days imprisonment. On the 16th of March he was convicted for contempt of court. He had protested (twice) from the court gallery when two Maori youths appeared without representation.
In his defence Mihaka stated that it hurt him to see young Maori people appearing in the dock without representation or adequate knowledge of legal proceedings.
Mr Wicks S.M. stated that people without knowledge of procedure or representation were properly catered for. Mihaka denied this, saying that such people were usually "intimidated by the whole setup". When Mihaka refused to apologize for his actions he was convicted and sentenced to ten days jail.
The Nelson Race Relations Action group, authors of the paper "Justice and Race" (published in the first issue of Salient 1973) have already protested the jailing, pointing out that the incident only proved the conclusions of their report; that New Zealand courts are racist in their operation.
Mihaka was quite correct in stating that Maori Youth are intimidated by court procedure. There is nothing in the courtroom calculated to inspire confidence or hope. Many working class youths, Maori and otherwise are unrepresented by counsel. The legal aid system that some defendants are provided with is more often than not a mere token defence.
Mihaka was jailed for telling the truth.