NZ Embassy in Turkey assists to ensure safety of Native Affairs reporter and cameraman

The New Zealand Embassy in Turkey has activated a plan to contact Israeli authorities after Native Affairs reporter Ruwani Perera and camera operator Jake Bryant were aboard the ship “Marianne” which was detained by the Israeli Defence Force yesterday.

The ship they were aboard was part of the “Freedom Flotilla Coalition” carrying humanitarian aid into Gaza when it was intercepted by Israeli forces. Perera and Bryant were the only New Zealand media invited by KiaoraGaza to observe and document the peace mission.

Approximately 20 people were detained by the Israeli Defence Force yesterday.

Māori Television’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Maramena Roderick says, "We've contacted our nearest embassy in Turkey and they are activating their own plan to contact the Israeli authorities and like us will do everything they can to bring them home."

She says, "throughout all of this the planning and the processes, the safety of our crew was paramount to Māori Television and the safe return of our crew is the priority.”

According to the latest press release on the “Ship To Gaza” website the Israeli Defence Force, “announced that they had “visited and searched” Marianne. They had captured the boat and detained all on board “in international waters” as they admitted themselves. The only positive content in the announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu’s government recent denial that one exists.”

Native Affairs boarded the flotilla in Sicily 10 days ago. They were later joined by international media from Al Jazeera, Israel and Russia.

Ms Roderick says, ““We have a New Zealand Aid organisation involved in an international conflict, Native Affairs wasn’t afraid to ask why and go and find the answer.”

In a statement to Aljazeera by the Israeli army said on Monday that it did not use force in redirecting the main boat Marianne to the Israeli city of Ashdod. 

Native Affairs producer, Adrian Stevanon says, "There are unconfirmed reports the boat has reached Ashdod but attempts are still being made to contact our people."