NZ: Activists Occupy Labour Party Offices Across Aotearoa

Activists are occupying Labour MP offices across the country today to urge the government to take immediate action on the Manus Island refugee crisis.

In a demonstration of solidarity for the men trapped on Manus Island, activists have today occupied Jacinda Ardern’s office in Auckland to make an urgent demand for Jacinda Ardern to bring all the Manus Island refugees to Aotearoa immediately.

“Jacinda Ardern needs to talk directly to the Papua New Guinea government to arrange for all the Manus Island refugees to be brought to New Zealand. This week Papua New Guinea government officials have been destroying the water supplies, and the refugees are reaching their 17th day without water, power, food and essential medication.” said Auckland Peace Action member Hamish Noonan.

“The deal to take 150 refugees is a toxic deal left over from the John Key government, which had Australia offering to detain people wanting to come to New Zealand in return. The Labour government is now using delaying tactics and needs to accept all the refugees on Manus Island, not just 150.”

“We have been in contact with many of the refugees on Manus Island. 20 of the refugees are gay and have been fleeing persecution, but are being held in a country where homosexuality is illegal and can lead to lengthy prison terms. They need to be evacuated to safety as soon as possible.”

“We call on Jacinda Ardern to condemn Australia’s cruel, inhumane and illegal treatment of asylum seekers. Auckland Peace Action calls for a fair and due process for people seeking asylum in the Pacific.”

There will be a rally in Aotea Square this Sunday at 1pm to support the Manus Island refugees.

Auckland: No Pride in Prisons Protesters Bring Pride Parade to a Halt

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21 Feb – No Pride in Prisons, a queer and transgender activist group managed to stop the Auckland Pride Parade from progressing. The group took this action in order to protest the inclusion of uniformed police and Corrections officers.

Approximately 300 protesters marched down Karangahape Road towards the Pride Parade. Faced with a police line, a handful of protesters broke through the line and managed to get onto the Parade ground.

This group stayed on the street for approximately an hour and a half and forced the Parade organisers to change the Parade route.

From there, a second group of protesters on the sidelines opened the barriers and rushed onto the road in front of the police float. The protesters then sat across the street, holding a banner reading “Queers Against Cops”.

This action follows the Auckland Pride Board’s decision to allow members of the police and the Department of Corrections to march in uniform in the parade.

“We took the actions we did in order to condemn the Auckland Pride Board’s decision to include violent, racist and transmisogynist institutions in its parade for the second year in a row,” says No Pride in Prisons spokesperson, Emilie Rākete.

“Given recent reports of racist police brutality and Corrections’ announcement to extend its ‘double-bunking’ policy, it is disgraceful that the Auckland Pride Board decided to include Corrections and police in the Pride Parade.”

“Corrections’ policies directly contribute to physical and sexual violence against trans and queer prisoners.”

Continue reading “Auckland: No Pride in Prisons Protesters Bring Pride Parade to a Halt”

Ōtepoti (NZ): Queer anti-prison activists protest outside a National Party office

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20 Feb – No Pride in Prisons Ōtepoti organised a small solidarity demonstration in the Upper Octagon today..

We stand with NPIP members up north today against the pinkwashing of Auckland Pride, in part by its own committee, and in condemnation of both the Department of Corrections and the New Zealand Police for their discriminatory, harmful and dangerous treatment of transgender prisoners.

Too many of our trans siblings have been lost in and to a dangerous system that ignores our basic human rights. The oppressors and abusers in that system do not deserve to march in Pride with us

NZ: Gay Cops are Still Cops

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12 Feb – Over the past couple of weeks, No Pride in Prisons has placed increasing pressure on the Pride Board, and the Auckland queer community more generally, to ban uniformed police officers from the pride parade. As we now know, the Pride Board chose to disregard legitimate concerns with that institution being included. A common response to these concerns, from uncritical members of the community, has been: “What about the gay cops? Aren’t they a part of our community? Who are you to ban members of the community?”

To that, we ask: What is the queer community? The decision as to whether police can march in a pride parade is the kind of decision which determines what kind of community we are. Are we a community of marginalised peoples? Are we a community which cares about other marginalised peoples? Or, are we more concerned with consolidating the privileges of the most privileged within our ‘community’?

Cops have no place in any queer community made up of marginalised peoples. This is because it is the role of the police to uphold the privileges of the powerful, and maintain the marginalisation of the oppressed. How do they do this? As an institution, the New Zealand Police has admitted that it has an ‘unconscious bias’ against Māori. This is played out in the New Zealand Police apprehending and charging Māori at a rate that far surpasses that of Pākehā for the same crimes.

Police target and oppress other and overlapping marginalised peoples as well. You may have seen police harassing homeless people or people they suspect of being sex workers. No Pride in Prisons has received reports from trans women who have been violently assaulted by police and arrested for the supposed crime of “walking while trans”. The police’s targeting and criminalisation of certain groups is part of what makes and maintains their marginalisation. Community is required so that those on the margins can continue to survive. In other words, the police’s actions make the community necessary. As a result, cops are not and never will be part of a community of marginalised peoples.

Continue reading “NZ: Gay Cops are Still Cops”

NZ: Government minister Anne Tolley’s office firebombed

The smashed door glass shows where the firebomb entered Tolley's Whakatane office.

5 Feb – Molotov cocktails were thrown into Government minister Anne Tolley’s Whakatane office overnight and anti-TPPA graffiti was scrawled on a wall outside.

Police said Tolley’s office was under police guard following the attack, which comes at a time of high tensions over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

The attempted firebombing comes after vandals broke into Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee’s Christchurch office on Monday morning and poured fuel in a room before leaving.

“When the police tell you that it’s a pretty determined effort, it does shake you up a bit – they went to a lot of trouble to try and burn my office down, so it’s a bit scary, and pretty tough on the staff.”

“I think the police patrol caught it quite early on…if it had been on carpet or something that could have caught alight quickly.”

Tolley said she hadn’t expected any attacks on her office, with anti-TPPA marches in her electorate run in a “well-organised and well-contained” manner.

“Some people get quite aggressive when they’re talking to you, but generally people are quite reasonable – they’re passionate, but violence is an extreme reaction.”

The office would be closed over the weekend while police finished their work and damage was dealt with, Tolley said.

In a statement, Prime Minister John Key said he was disappointed by the attack.

“People always have the right to peaceful protest and are free to do so, as long as they don’t break the law or put anyone in harm’s way.

“Incidents like these are hugely disappointing because our MPs work incredibly hard for their communities as do the staff who work in their offices. They have a right to feel safe in their workplaces and I would urge people to respect that.”

The fire appeared to have happened overnight but had been reported to police soon after 7am, said Senior Sergeant Denton Grimes of the Bay of Plenty District Command Centre.

“From a police point of view it’s now determining what caused it and who is responsible, if it’s suspicious.”

Auckland: Rowdy demo against TPP shuts down city streets

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5 Feb – The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement was signed at Sky City in Auckland this morning, amid large protests in the central city.

Detective Superintendent Richard Chambers has spoken about the large police operation in central Auckland.

He said there were no arrests made and several hundred officers were involved in the operation.

He is aware of images circulating of police being “heavy handed” (aka pulling protesters by their hair, throwing them on the ground, and beating them with batons and fists, twisting arms and choking protesters with illegal holds.) but says he is confident they operated appropriately to stop people from running onto on-ramps and putting themselves at risk.

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“There have been thousands of people in the city, many of those people were there to voice their thoughts on TPP,” he said.

“I’m very disappointed there were a group among them who chose to disrupt traffic.”

He says officers were abused, had their clothing and hats pulled, but displayed “outstanding professionalism”.

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A massive group of protesters had gathered at the intersections of Victoria West St and Hobson St, while a steady stream of protesters also made their way down Nelson Street, parallel to Hobson Street, while chanting profanities directed at police.

A large number of people from several iwi groups had gathered at Victoria Park, and later boarded buses heading for Waitangi.

“The world is watching the hikoi today, whanau,” one of them said.

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NZ: Vandals attack MP Gerry Brownlee’s Christchurch office

A window was smashed and fuel found inside Gerry Brownlee's Ilam office on Monday morning.

1 Feb – Vandals have smashed a window and poured or thrown fuel inside MP Gerry Brownlee’s Christchurch office.

Police were called to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister’s office in Greers Rd, Ilam, on Monday morning after staff discovered the building had been damaged.

Detective inspector Greg Murton said CCTV footage showed two men breaking a window to gain access to the Earthquake Recovery Minister’s Greers Rd office just after 3am.

They poured accelerant in a ground floor room, then left shortly after.

Police are appealing to the public to help identify these two vandals who broke into MP Gerry Brownlee's office early Monday morning.

“They appear to have approached the property heading south-west along Greers Road and have left the scene in the opposite direction heading north-east,” Murton said in a statement.

It was believed the two men arrived and left on motorcycles, wearing identical clothing and “distinctive trainers”.

A scene examination was carried out on Monday, and police were working with Brownlee’s office, Murton said.

Aotearoa/NZ: Lake Horowhenua row escalates

Oct 29 – A showdown of sorts has taken place on the shores of Lake Horowhenua, where a long-running dispute between the local rowing club and one of the lake’s Māori owners recently reignited, along with allegations of assaults and vandalism.

One of the lake’s owners, Phil Taueki, who lives at the lake, has been at war with the rowers over the use of club sheds he says were illegally built on Māori land.

The Horowhenua Rowing Club had been permitted to lease the buildings on the lakeside but after being told to leave and given a deadline, they have begun moving out.

The conflict between the two parties is deeply embedded in the management, ownership and administration of the lake, which is the subject of 22 Waitangi Tribunal claims.

Lake HorowhenuaLake Horowhenua – once the food bowl for its iwi – is now one of New Zealand’s most polluted lakes.

Lake Horowhenua is unique. It is owned by Māori but, after a parliamentary act in 1905, its administration and management became the responsibility of a government-appointed board.

The Horowhenua Lake Domain Board is made up of four council representatives and four iwi but at present just three iwi members sit on the board.

In 1950, the government also formed a trust to represent the Māori owners, but not all of the owners support it.

Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell said the model was not one that would be used today. He said he had heard the concerns of Māori about the set-up and was willing to work with them to solve the situation.

Mr Taueki, who is one of the lake’s many owners, operates without his wider iwi’s support – but with the belief he has every right to occupy and manage the lake, of which his grandfather was an original owner.

The Taueki whanauThe Taueki whanau – including Phil Taueki, at far right.

According to a Māori Land Court judgment, the buildings at the heart of the dispute are considered fixtures and, consequently, are the property of the lake’s Māori land owners.

The lake’s board, however, has permitted the rowers to use the club sheds for decades.

Mr Taueki has often been left standing on his own in his opposition to the agreement.

During the long-running dispute, there have been allegations of assaults, claims of death threats and vandalism.

Mr Taueki has had about 40 different charges laid against him but said all of them had been withdrawn or dismissed, with only a couple still pending.

He said the lakeside had been quiet since the rowers left the buildings and he hoped they would not come back.

Continue reading “Aotearoa/NZ: Lake Horowhenua row escalates”

Wellington: TPP protesters arrested

Police arrest protesters at the demonstration in Wellington

15 Sept – At least 25 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) protesters were arrested after trying to force their way into a government building in Wellington.

A group of about 60 protesters had been outside the building since 10am.

Groups of two tried to push past police to get into the building for about two hours before the police began arresting people.

TPPA action group protester getting dragged off from the protest.

Others had been arrested for sitting on the road and refusing to move.

The protesters, from the group Show Us Ya Text, tried to force their way into the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade building in Wellington.

Protesters arrested at the demonstration.

They wanted documents about the proposed deal published and said democracy should not happen behind closed doors.

Police had pushed protesters from the ministry building entrance to the footpath, and about 20 of them had then sat on the street on Lambton Quay.

The protest group has previously occupied the Prime Minister’s electoral office in Auckland and invaded Trade Minister Tim Groser’s office.

“We’ve come down here because we’ve asked the Government countless times to release the text of the TPP and they have not obliged, so we’re conducting a search and seizure to attempt to enter the building and retrieve the text ourselves,” she said.

TPPA Action Group trying to force their way into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade building.

NZ: Airport protesters arrested

9 Sept – A 28-hour occupation of Kaitaia Airport by Ngati Kahu has ended in a blaze of tyres and five arrests.

The airport occupation, which began just before lunchtime on Tuesday, was brought to an abrupt end as police moved in just before 3pm today.

Action leader Wi Popata, of Ngati Kahu, said the occupation was a protest against a $100 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement this week.

The Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill was read for its third and final time in Parliament today, ratifying the settlements of four of five Muriwhenua iwi – Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto, Te Rarawa and Ngati Kuri. Ngati Kahu is the only Te Hiku iwi to not yet settle.

Northland District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou said negotiations with the protesters had failed to reach a resolution and police were left with no choice.

Evicted protesters at Kaitaia Airport. Photo / Edward Rooney
Evicted protesters at Kaitaia Airport.

About 20 police went to the airport and closed the access roads. The protesters were given the ultimatum of leaving on their own accord or being arrested.

Six members of the occupation remained on a bench seat in the airport carpark and were each individually arrested.

Tensions flared when the departing protesters lit fires on either side of the airport driveway, fuelled by tyres and fenceposts.

The Kaitaia Fire Station sent one appliance to put out the bonfires. Protest leader Mr Popata said the fires were “signals”.

“It was to show the shit we’ve been through. It’s to remind people of the houses, the marae, the taonga that has been destroyed.”

He said he and his brother Hone had left the airport rather than be arrested after being urged to leave by older protest members.

“Our people didn’t want us to be arrested,” he said.

“They wanted us to come out and carry on.”

Wi Popata said the protest would return, despite having now been formally trespassed from the property.

“We’ll be back. We will mobilise our iwi and we will come back and take our land.”

Hikoi to Kaitaia Airport for occupation by Ngati Kahu. Photo / Edward Rooney

The Far North Mayor John Carter said flights were expected to resume by tomorrow morning.

About 50 people had gathered at the Oturu Marae before walking to the occupation site with fence posts and corrugated iron to construct a marae. They went to the front desk and informed Barrier Air pilot Sam Bowering they were taking over the facility. The airport’s operators locked the terminal building as the protesters gathered outside to hear speeches in the carpark.

One of the organisers, Hone Popata, had said that and all air operations would be closed.

“We are in charge now,” he said. “We’re here to fight and to take back our land.”

Police asked the occupiers to allow the airport company Far North Holdings to retrieve a Barrier Air craft and a fuel truck, which was agreed to. “It’s only a plane,” one woman said. “We want our land.”

Ngati Kahu Iwi occupy the Kaitaia airport. Photo / Supplied via Facebook

Wi Popata said the airport land was important to three hapu of Ngati Kahu – Patukoraha, Ngai Tohianga and Ngai Takoto – and included important boundaries, with two urupa in the area. The Matenga-Erstich whanau said the owners were “repossessing” land taken for an airfield in WWII.

Protesters appear to be building a marae in the Kaitaia Airport car park. Protesters building a marae in the Kaitaia Airport

Ngati Kahu and Ngai Takoto have each been offered the right to buy 50 per cent of Kaitaia Airport in their respective Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

But if Ngati Kahu does not settle with the Crown within three years, 100 per cent will be offered to Ngai Takoto, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told Parliament today.

The offer for the airport is conditional on the land remaining an airport and the right to purchase takes effect in three years.

“If Ngati Kahu have not concluded a treaty settlement within three years of Ngai Takoto settlement date, around December 2018, then Ngai Takoto will have the sole right to purchase the property,” Mr Finlayson said during debate on four northern settlements: Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and Te Rarawa.

“This approach was taken because the Crown had to balance the interests of both iwi while ensuring certainty about the future of the airport.”

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