Auckland Peace Action organised a Week of Peace over 13-20 November 2016 in response to the NZDIA moving it’s annual weapons conference to Auckland to coincide with the NZ Navy events including a flotilla of warships. Here’s the first part of two wrapping up the events.
The call to action was made loud and clear.
Inspiration came from many places including a public speaking event on Tuesday from anti-nuclear activist Dr Helen Caldicott on ending the global arms trade.
A few days earlier workshops on non violent direct action had been held to prepare people for the action.
Thus on Wednesday morning people gathered at 8am in Silo Park ready to blockade the first day of the weapons conference.
Protestors began to block off entrances to the building.
The police violently pushed back at protestors who approached another access point.
Then momentum swiftly turned to the side of the protestors when the fence was pulled down allowing direct access to the building entrances.
Arms dealers who got inside early could only watch as the majority of their colleagues were blocked from attending the conference they paid a tidy sum to attend.
People swiftly moved in to block the entrances directly.
Ka whawhai tonu mātou. Ake! Ake! Ake!
The blockade became an epic human chain preventing any arms dealers from entering the building.
Despite continuing threats from police to bring out peeper spray and tasers protestors remained steadfast.
Though some scuffles still broke out when individual arms dealers tried to enter the building desperate to make a killing. The low point of this was when police knocked over some small children when trying to aid an arms dealer.
None the less the blockade continued, the strength of which must in part be put down to the many different groups who answered the call to action and brought their own special magic along.
The hours stretched on as no one was able to enter. One arms dealer waiting nearby in a cafe was overheard to say he spent a total of $15,000 on attending the conference, another had come all the way from New York.
The blockade ended when the Venga Boys ‘Boom, Boom, Boom’ played through the sound system and all the tiredness of an eight hour protest suddenly washed away as a dance celebration spontaneously began. The police continued to block off the building watching on unsmiling.
Media reported that at least 350 attendees were blocked access to the conference. The blockade was a resounding success with many other actions planned in the days to come.
The next day kicked off with Karanga Tangaroa organised by the Pacific Panthers.
An action responding to the Naval Defence use of ‘Tangaroa’ in their operations title ‘Mahi Tangaroa’.
Photos by Julie Zhu http://www.facebook.com/JulieZhuPhotography/
Police Intimidation at Sacred Ceremony
Karanga Tangaroa was a powerful and beautiful display of culture and traditional prayer. It affirmed our role as indigenous peoples in the Pacific to respect and to protect our ocean and each other against militarism.
We started with karakia, and then followed with wahine of the Pacific facing the Waitemata harbour and performing karanga to Tangaroa.
Tāwhirimātea and Ranginui sent a heavy rain shower in support of the wahine who stood at the water’s edge, conducting sacred rituals of karakia and karanga.
The rain eased once the tapu (sacred) proceedings had finished, the sun burst through the clouds and a speaking circle commenced sharing korero about the kaupapa of the day.
It was described by many who attended as a profoundly moving and sacred event.
The proceedings of the day ended by enjoying a shared bbq lunch.
Despite the success of the day, many were traumatised by the heavy handed tactics of the policing especially considering the nature of the event.
Tina Ngata felt that “the actions of the police were indisputably intended to bully and intimidate us. They employed paramilitary tactics against a peaceful, sacred gathering of indigenous women. This is an abuse of our human rights to gather and pray, a clear example of the racist nature of policing against Maori in New Zealand.”
The Pacific Panther Network wants to know why was a police helicopter hovering over and intimidating and defiling the sacred ceremony at karanga Tangaroa ?
Why were a substantial number of police present armed with long batons and a paddy wagon at a family friendly event ?
A police photographer was also present. A senior police officer who when questioned as to why the police were present in such force disclosed that “the police were present as part of an official police operation”.
He refused to disclose any more details about this police operation when questioned further.
Marama Davison who performed karanga with other wahine on the day adds : “There was no need for such an overdone amount of police at such a peaceful event. Around the world state forces are being used as intimidation tactics and that actually goes against international human rights law”.
The Pacific Panthers will be pursuing a formal complaint about heavy handed policing directed at a peaceful cultural ceremony.
Continue on reading about the Week of Peace in part two of our wrap up.