Peace protest against US-led combat training in the Pacific

Peace Action Wellington (PAW) will protest outside of the NZ Defence Force headquarters at 34 Bowen Street, Wellington on Friday, 8 July from 8-9am against NZ’s participation in the US-led “Rim of the Pacific” (RIMPAC) combat training.

This year, the NZDF has a major role at RIMPAC. For the first time, New Zealand will be Commanding the Carrier Strike Group Sea Combat formation, and will be based on the US Navy ship USS Mobile Bay. The ship is equipped with torpedoes, deck guns, surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles. The NZDF is also sending 78 soldiers from the HMNZS Matataua and the Army’s 16 Field Regiment as well as the Navy vessel HMNZS Aotearoa.

“The NZDF commanding role at RIMPAC is evidence of NZ’s deeply embedded position within the US military, despite the Prime Minister’s claim of an independent foreign policy,” said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.

“Jacinda Ardern has said that NZ is not seeking military alliances and is pursuing an independent foreign policy, but RIMPAC is a show of US imperial might in the Pacific.”

“Combat training like RIMPAC only makes war more likely and does nothing to address the real concerns of Pacific peoples in a time of climate crisis.”

“Military training is a driver of wars and conflict. Being constantly at the ready to fight wars uses resources we could instead be using to put an intense focus on solving peace and justice issues in the region. If the government is serious about Pacific peace, the NZDF should refuse to be part of the buildup of military forces in the Pacific. 

“Right now, we need to put all of our energy into dialogue and conversations about climate justice, decolonisation, poverty alleviation, strengthening democratic institutions and the care of the South Pacific’s ecosystems. Instead, by participating in RIMPAC, we are locked into perpetuating imperial agendas in the region.

“Live combat training is also incredibly polluting, causing damage to ocean ecosystems and marine mammals. Militaries are massive contributors to climate change – and their emissions are not even counted. The social pressures on communities hosting these tens of thousands of soldiers is yet another concern.”

“RIMPAC happens on stolen Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiian) land. There is no small irony that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Defence Minister Peeni Henere and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta talk about an ‘independent’ foreign policy but send NZDF troopers onto stolen Indigenous land. There are just so many reasons why New Zealand’s involvement in RIMPAC should cease permanently.”

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