Sunday’s Trafalgar Luncheon, part of the Navy’s 75th anniversary celebrations, was moved from its planned location in the Wellington Cadet Centre without any public notification. Despite this, a peace picnic outside the empty venue was closely monitored by two police officers.
Peace Action Wellington had planned a noisy picnic to protest the Navy’s luncheon; “War is not a cause for celebration” Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Ally Davis said. “The navy seem to have been intimdated by our peace picnic outside the Wellington Cadet Centre. The fact that they sent two police officers to monitor us having a nice time outside an empty venue is concerning. I don’t know how political parties can justify calling for extra cops when they’ve clearly been wasting their time & taxpayers money today.”
The Navy luncheon is one of a string of publicity events that the RNZN is holding throughout 2016, sponsored by companies that supply armaments and equipment to the Navy, and to the navies, armies and air forces of the world.
The anniversary includes an international flotilla of warships to visit Auckland and conduct naval exercises in November, including the first U.S warship to visit a New Zealand port for 32 years, since the country’s anti-nuclear legislation was passed.
Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers (including the manufacture of nuclear weapons systems), is helping to sponsor these events. Lockheed Martin was paid $446 million by the New Zealand taxpayer last year to upgrade the systems on our naval vessels. and is implicated in arms sales to countries with poor human rights records, like Saudi Arabia – currently using its weapons to kill innocent civilians in Yemen.
Babcock, another sponsor, helps to maintain the N.Z. Navy fleet, but also manages nuclear submarine bases in the U.K, while Beca, sells software systems to both the New Zealand navy and to countries that use their military forces against their own people, like Myanmar and Indonesia.
“No one should profit from war,” Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Ally Davis said, “But the companies who are profiting from our Navy and sponsoring these events, are implicated in the very things that we expect New Zealand as a country to be standing up against.”
The Trafalgar luncheon, attended by Navy personnel and cadets, marks the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October) fought in 1805, when Lord Nelson’s victory over the French and the Spanish confirmed British naval supremacy. The war predates New Zealand’s colonisation and the land confiscation wars with help from the same British navy. The Trafalgar Luncheon presumably went ahead at another Wellington venue.
The 75th Anniversary marks the ‘birth’ of the ‘Royal New Zealand Navy’ in 1941, but RNZ Navy remained heavily influenced by British command for many decades.
Peace Action Wellington will be staging a series of protests leading up to the Navy exposition in Auckland in November.