2016 Press releases

Media release: Time for New Zealand to end all ties with USA military
Wednesday, 11 November 2016

It is now time for New Zealand to cut military ties with the USA. The USA military has a grotesque human rights record and has been involved in a huge number of unnecessary, brutal, destructive and poorly thought out conflicts, and that was before Donald Trump was appointed Commander in Chief.

Opposition to the arrival of a USA warship in Aotearoa is building with organisations around the country opposing the visit. Groups oppose this visit in November which is part of the upcoming Weapons Expo held by the Defence Industry Association. Last year this annual Weapons Expo was held in a venue owned by the Wellington City Council and faced staunched and passionate opposition.

Peace Action Wellington spokesperson James Barber says, “this November companies are meeting to further their plans of making profit from war at the same time as our government welcomes warships and armed forces which have been responsible for a vast number of human rights abuses.”

Peace Action Wellington is calling for New Zealand to not only end the annual Weapons Expo but also revoke its invitation to the US Navy, and end all ties with the US military, and finally to formally leave the ANZUS agreement and Washington agreement.

They continued, “we should not be strengthening military ties with an armed forces responsible for the grotesque human rights abuses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Nor should we have military ties with a country which has been killing thousands of innocent people through its ongoing and illegal drone war.”

“The New Zealand government should stand up against monstrous international politics, protect our country from further involvement in unnecessary wars and end all ties with the USA armed forces.”

Peace Action Wellington commends Auckland Peace Action which is planning protests and an on-water peace flotilla, and calls on all people to stand up against the war industry and for peace and justice by resisting military ties with the United States of America.

Peace Action Wellington will be marching from Thistle Hall, Cuba st, to the Wellington City Council at 12:30, Wednesday 16th November, in opposition to the war industry, opposition to military ties with war mongers such as the USA, and to deliver a letter calling on the city council to never host the Weapons Expo in their venues again.


Media release: Navy secretly move function, send police to monitor peaceful protest
Monday, 17 October 2016


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 intimidated 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. For more information go to www.peacewellington.org


Media release: Peace activists arrested at arms company protest
Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Activists from Peace Action Wellington (PAW) today occupied the office of MAS Zengrange, a Lower Hutt company that makes mortar-firing systems and other war products. Five peace activists were arrested after they left the building.

Lisa Davis, a member of PAW, said, “We dressed up as the Grim Reaper during this action to highlight the fact that weapons companies celebrate war and death because it means more sales and profits. We are very concerned that MAS Zengrange has provided weapons components to Saudi Arabia, a country condemned for on-going civilian deaths in Yemen, as well as the US and UK, states that have been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths across the Middle East. We’re shocked that the five peace activists were arrested today while the arms dealers are able to continue business as usual.”

“Making money from human misery is unacceptable to people across New Zealand. We have seen that with the recent outrage over Kiwisaver investments. In Lower Hutt, where the company is based, people we spoke to were shocked to learn weapons components are being made here,” Lisa continued. “The arms dealers were very aggressive towards us, which I guess is in line with their attitude to profiting from death and destruction.”

PAW activists were on the property for less than five minutes in which time activists were physically assaulted by two members of staff from the arms company and another threatened to lock them in the building. After activists left the building and walked away they were pursued by one of the arms dealers in a car. All five were arrested and held in police cells for around an hour. Two peace activists now face court charges.

When interviewed at the 2015 Weapons Expo in Wellington, MAS Zengrange claimed that their products were “…not used in an aggressive sense at all”, a claim which is directly contradicted by the explicit images accompanying their products on their website of weapons in active military use. They also describe their products as providing “Ballistic Offensive Support”, “delivering accurate and responsive ballistic solutions for field Artillery and Offensive Support systems” and “providing rapid and accurate firing data for Field Artillery, heavy mortars and surface to surface rockets and missiles”.

Lisa Davis continued, “We believe that war starts wherever weapons components are produced, so we need to stop it here. Our action today was partly tongue in cheek, with Grim Reapers throwing a party in the MAS Zengrange office and giving awards to them for their part in deaths around the world. But it’s a really serious issue, MAS Zengrange is not welcome here and we’ll be back to show them that again. Our action today in Lower Hutt is part of a global month of actions against the arms trade, facilitated by Campaign Against the Arms Trade in the UK. People are coming together across the world, opposing their local arms company and standing up against war profiteers.”

Peace Action Wellington, alongside Auckland Peace Action (APA), will also be opposing the November 2016 Weapons Expo, an arms industry lobbying event held by the NZ Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) annually.


Media release: Nauru whistleblowers to speak out at Wellington protest
Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Peace Action Wellington and Changemakers Refugee Forum have called for a protest against Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. The demonstration will start at Parliament at 12.30 on the 25th August, followed by a march to the Australian High Commission. Speakers will include whistleblowers who have worked in the detention centre on Nauru.

With the release of the Nauru Files, abuse and inhumane conditions on Nauru are once again in the spotlight. The release of the files as well as news of deaths in Australia’s offshore detention centres clearly demonstrate that mental health issues are rife within communities being held there against their will.

James Harris, a former support worker for Save The Children on Nauru said “During my time in Nauru I attended the daily Mental Health briefing, where we were given the long list of asylum seekers who were on watch. The rest of my day would be following up with each of them, who were suffering the torment of indefinite detention in horrific conditions.”

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru have been protesting for months. Australian activists and civil society are working to turn the tide of opinion and have called for global demonstrations in solidarity. Kiwis need to stand in solidarity, speak up and take action for asylum seekers.

The end of August 2016 also marks 15 years since the 483 refugees rescued by the Tampa were refused by Australia and taken to Nauru, starting the ‘Pacific Solution’ and Australia’s use of offshore detention to avoid taking in refugees. 150 of the Tampa refugees were eventually granted citizenship by New Zealand.

History repeats itself again as there is offer from the New Zealandgovernment to take 150 people from the centres, which Australia has so far refused to take up. It’s time for the NZ government, as Australia’s neighbour, to put pressure on them to end mandatory offshore detention policy and accept refugees, as required under international law. NZ accepts far fewer per capita refugees than Australia each year; we can and should do more.

Speakers will include:

– James and Jenna Harris, former Save the Children staff in the Nauru detention centre
– Nureddin Abdurahman, a Wellington Oromo Community member of a refugee background
– A speaker from Peace Action Wellington on the links between the military industrial complex and refugees
– Carsten Bockemuehl, Amnesty International NZ, who recently released a report on abuse & neglect of refugees on Nauru
– David Shearer, Labour MP with the shadow portfolio on Foreign Affairs who has spoken out about the NZ government’s lack of action for offshore detainees
– Kelvin Davis, Labour MP who has visited Kiwis in detention on Christmas Island and has spoken out against offshore detention
– Marama Davidson, Green Party MP who supports refugees and asylum seekers
– Denise Roche, Green Party MP with the portfolio for immigration


Media release: Peace Activists intimidated by police
Friday, 22 July 2016

court-solHeavy-handed policing of peace activists arrested on minor charges at last year’s arms fair will see 30 police witnesses called at a trial lasting two weeks.

A total of 16 people face charges for standing up against global weapons manufacturers including Lockheed Martin at the Wellington weapons fair.

“We were surprised that a crown prosecutor is also being brought in specially for the case for charges of trespass and obstruction,” said Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“Freedom of speech and freedom of protest are part of New Zealand’s Bill of Rights, but the Police’s pursuit of this case is incredibly heavy-handed and seems clearly an attempt at intimidating people and stifling dissent,” said Gayaal.

“The police arrested people to shut down the protest and then told us that we would not be charged. This repression is happening at a time when the government has just committed $20 billion to new weaponry and has invited US and other navies to Auckland. It’s more important than ever that people in Aotearoa stand up for peace, and stand against this militarisation.”

Peace Action Wellington is joining Auckland Peace Action in organising public opposition to the international arms fair and navy visit to be held this November, in Auckland.


The arrestees were in the Wellington District Court on Thursday 21 July. Another date has been set for a nominal hearing on 12 September. A trial date may be set at this stage.

Peace Action Wellington: oppose the warship visit
Thursday, 21 July 2016

Peace Action Wellington is opposed to the upcoming US warship visit, and the ongoing building of military ties with the United States of America to bolster their illegal wars. We join Auckland Peace Action in their mobilisation of public opposition to this.

“The visit of a US warship for the first time in thirty years signals the US government’s need for outside involvement and our government’s disturbing support for joining US wars,” says Peace Action Wellington spokesperson James Barber.

“The nuclear free issue is important but what is more important is the US military’s long history of gross human rights abuses. Their atrocities at Abu Ghraib, for which commanders were not held accountable, and the state sanctioned torture of prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay are easily enough reasons to cut all military relations with the USA.”

“The USA caused the current crisis in the Middle East, through their illegal invasion of Iraq which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. The ongoing US backed war in Syria and Iraq against ISIS is similarly killing and displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians while perpetuating the conflict.”

“Also, the USA is continuing a drone war in countries where there has been no formal declaration of war, this has killed thousands of innocent civilians and only served to fuel tensions in the region.”

The USA is also maintaining its “neither confirm nor deny” policy about its warships and so they do not meet the precedent set in 1985 by the then Labour government.

Peace Action Wellington is joining Auckland Peace Action in organising public opposition to the warship visit and the international arms fair of which it is part. Peace Action Wellington has a decade long history is resisting war and militarisation. Today protestors were in court facing charges from last year’s weapons conference.

Wellingtonians protest treatment of refugees
Friday, 24 June 2016

Protestors at the Australian High Commission

Protestors at the Australian High Commission

Australian High Commission under detention, Wellingtonians protest treatment of refugees

Today, Peace Action Wellington (PAW) and around 50 Wellingtonians blockaded the Australian High Commission, creating a symbolic detention centre to protest the Australian Government’s policy of mandatory offshore detention for refugees and asylum seekers.

PAW also delivered a large inflatable ‘message in a bottle’, bearing the slogan “Don’t be silent please – freedom is our right”, a message directly from protesters on Nauru and Manus Island. Peaceful protests by detaineed refugees and asylum seekers have almost reached their 100th day on Nauru and 40th on Manus Island.

23rd June marks a day of civil disobedience by Australian activists protesting treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. PAW stand in solidarity both with asylum seekers being held in detention and those Australians who actively oppose their government’s policy.

PAW Spokesperson Emma Cullen said “We chose to create a detention centre at the Australian High Commission because we feel that the Australian authorities lack empathy and need to understand that no one is illegal. They represent the Australian government, whose current treatment of refugees is reprehensible. While it’s only the embassy staff’s lunch hour, some asylum seekers and refugees have been detained on Manus Island and Nauru for years. We stand in solidarity with these people and demand their release.”

Australian government use of offshore detention has previously been abolished by the Australian government and could be again. Under international law (UDHR 14 & the Refugee Convention), everyone has the right to seek asylum and be protected – Australia is not living up to these standards. PAW call for an immediate end to Australia’s ‘No Way Will You Make Australia Home’ policy which leaves refugees in a state of limbo on Manus or Nauru under sometimes horrific conditions.

We call for an immediate end to all offshore detention and progression towards also closing all onshore detention centres in accordance with the Australia Human Rights Commission’s Alternatives to Detention. Peace Action Wellington also call on the New Zealand government to speak out against Australia’s racist policy, although with their recent shameful decision not to double our own Refugee Quota, this currently seems unlikely.

Emma says “We call on the Australian government to take leadership from their Indigenous leaders, who have on several occasions granted Original Nation passports to refugees and asylum seekers who have been detained or refused asylum by the Australian government. We also acknowledge the tanagta whenua of Aotearoa and call for tino rangatiratanga here. An indigenous non-capitalist approach to immigration, borders and refugees could be much more humane and than our current European settler inspired one.”

“Along with the USA and Europe, Aotearoa and Australia are also responsible for increasing numbers of refugees. The recently released NZ Defence White Paper adds a shocking $20 billion to military spending and John Key’s latest commitment to NZ forces remaining in Iraq will only lead to further people being displaced from their homes. The absolute least we can do is not then lock these people up in offshore gulags or, in the New Zealand government’s case, just ignore them. The Australian High Commission tried to ignore us today, refusing to accept our letter of protest to their staff, but it’s clear with widespread protest across Australia today that public opinion is turning against them.”

Emma continues – “Australia, your racist borders kill. Today we demand justice for Reza Barati, Rakib, Omid Masoulami, Hamid Kehazaei, Fezal Chegani, all of whom have died because of Australia’s border policy and also Hodan Yasin whose status is currently unknown. No one is illegal – end detention now.”

Close Detention Centres banner near Australian Embassy
Thursday, 23 June 2016

bannerOn the 100th day of protests on Nauru and the national day of civil disobedience in Australia against their detention centres for refugees a large banner calling for the end of detention centres, and the closing of the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres, has been put up just down the road from the Australian Embassy and next to the Wellington motorway.

The banner reads, “Close Manus, Close Nauru. End detention now!”

This is on the same day as Peace Action Wellington will hold a symbolic blockade of the Australian High Commission at midday. The High Commission will be turned into a symbolic detention centre.

Peace Action Wellington Spokesperson Emma Cullen says, “We choose to create a detention centre at the Australian High Commission because we feel that the Australian authorities lack empathy and need to understand that no one is illegal. They represent the Australian government, whose current treatment of refugees is reprehensible. While it’s only the embassy staff’s lunch hour, some asylum seekers and refugees have been detained on Manus Island and Nauru for years. We stand in solidarity with these people and demand their release.”

No support for NZ troops to Iraq
Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Peace Action Wellington is appalled that the New Zealand government has extended the length and breadth of the NZSAS operations in Iraq.

Peace Action Wellington spokesperson James Barber says, “We are opposed to the extension of the NZSAS operations in Iraq. This government is spending vast amounts on the military while consistently offering meagre solutions to other clear problems. The very minor increase in our refugee quota despite an international crisis, and the minor actions to provide much needed social housing in Aotearoa despite a local crisis, can be starkly contrasted against this deployment extension and the $20 billion of extra funding for the military.”

He continued, “This government has got its priorities wrong. The current refugee crisis and formation of ISIL were the direct and inevitable result of the 2003 illegal US war in Iraq. This war involved the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of people and the destabilisation of the whole region. Rather than taking actions like substantially increasing our take of refugees this government, along with the USA and the UK, are trying to solve a problem caused by western military intervention by using western military intervention.”

It is also deeply concerning that the government has not been clear about the role New Zealand troops are playing in Iraq. While Ministers say we are training Iraqi security forces, only 16 out of the 143 deployed to Iraq are trainers.

James says, “this Government is simply telling us to take their word and stage managed appearances at training camps for the truth.”

According to the Cabinet paper “Review of the Iraq Deployment” obtained under the Official Information Act, “up to” 106 soldiers are “fulfilling a number of roles including training, logistics support and force protection” in Taji. All other information about what these soldiers are doing has been redacted.

Any information about what the other 37 soldiers, who are not in Taji, are doing has also been redacted.

James says, “the government needs to tell us what the hell these 37 soldiers are doing, since they’re clearly not involved in the training operations!”

While ISIL and other insurgent forces are real threats within the Middle East the real solution does not involve supporting corrupt governments like Iraq, declared the most corrupt government in the Middle East by Transparency International. Nor does it involve supporting wars fought in the clear interests of the UK and USA.

Despite leading this “coalition” against ISIL both the USA and UK continue friendly relations with the known gross abuser of human rights Saudi Arabia. The barbaric actions of the USA armed forces are also well known. From the ongoing murder and radicalisation of thousands of civilians through their ongoing drone bombings, to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the USA violates rather than defends human rights.

What is needed is for the western countries which caused this problem to welcome those fleeing the war, refugees.

What is needed is support for local solutions, defending peace, justice and self determination, not top down ones imposed by corrupt or self interested governments and their armies.

Defence Spending obscene opening for more wars
Thursday, 9 June 2016

a better white paperNew Zealanders can remain confident that the country does not face a direct military threat in the foreseeable future. (Defence White Paper, p10, 2016)

“So why are we spending $20 Billion on upgrading the NZDF? It clearly isn’t because we need to. The NZDF says so themselves. The Defence White Paper released yesterday is a grotesque strategy for ongoing New Zealand involvement in more US wars of aggression throughout the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and with China, and adopts an aggressive military posture totally at odds with what most New Zealanders think should be happening in the world,” says Peace Action Wellington spokesperson James Barber.

“There is simply no justification for upgrading any of the military equipment outlined in the Defence White Paper. The real threats to New Zealand aren’t US-created terrorists in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, but poverty, unemployment, homelessness and catastrophic climate change. Stop waging aggressive wars of conquest with the US, and New Zealand will have no need to invest in new airplanes, frigates or armoured vehicles.”

“And as for the cyberwar capability, who exactly is New Zealand going to launch a cyberwar attack against? The government is touting this as a new weapon. But from real on the ground situations, against whom and in what circumstances exactly is New Zealand going to launch a cyberwar?”

“Gerry Brownlee talks about overfishing and the need to protect New Zealand’s EEZ as a major reason for an upgrade of the NZDF equipment, but quite aside from the fact that the ships they already have aren’t funded to do that work, and that new frigates aren’t the right kind of ships for that work, the current government has been flogging off most of the EEZ to international oil companies for massive exploitation, something most New Zealanders would see as a far greater real and immediate threat to the good health and security of the country.”

“The government says that is it concerned about, “marked increase in defence spending by countries across the region,” but they have said nothing about the recent US decision to sell new weapons to Vietnam. It reveals the levels of hypocrisy in NZ’s Defence and Foreign Affairs policy: it’s OK when the US does it, but not when anyone else does.”

“If the NZDF is all about peace and security in the world, why has it been involved in human rights abuses in Afghanistan and deployed to an illegal occupation in Iraq?”

“The whole of the Defence White Paper begins with the wrong premise; we don’t live on an island so to speak. We live an interconnected world. So let’s begin to re-imagine security not as their narrow idea of ‘national security’ defined by how many guns, bombs and weaponry we have, but as global security for all of the world’s people to the basics required to live a decent life with dignity: food, clean water, shelter, education and health care. New Zealanders know that we cannot shut our doors to the horror that the West’s wars of terror have caused in the Middle East: millions of refugees are fleeing for their very lives right now. A different future is not only possible, it is an urgent necessity.”

New Zealand should end all ties with USA military
Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Opposition to a possible visit by USA Navy ships to Aotearoa is building with organisations in Wellington and Auckland opposing the visit. Groups oppose this visit in November which is part of the New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary and the upcoming Weapons Conference held by the Defence Industry Association.

Peace Action Wellington spokesperson James Barber says, “not only is this a clear breach of our current Nuclear Free legislation and an insult to the thousands who struggled for it in the past, this is a furthering of our ties with a military responsible for a vast number of human rights abuses.”

Peace Action Wellington is calling for New Zealand to not only revoke its invitation to the US Navy, but also to end all ties with the US military and completely leave the ANZUS agreement.

James says, “we should not be strengthening military ties with an armed forces responsible for the grotesque human rights abuses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Nor should we have military ties with a country which has been killing thousands of innocent people through its ongoing and illegal drone war.”

He continues, “There is also a very real possibility that the commander in chief of the United States armed forces will be Donald Trump. The New Zealand government should stand up against monstrous international politics and state that if Trump is elected New Zealand will end ties with the United States of America armed forces and withdraw completely from the ANZUS treaty.”

Peace Action Wellington commends Auckland Peace Action which is planning protests and an on-water peace flotilla, and calls on all people to stand up for peace and justice by resisting military ties with the United States of America.

US warships have not visited New Zealand for 35 years because the US has refused to confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons on their ships, as required to ensure they comply with New Zealand law. Nothing has changed.

Lifejackets support asylum seekers
Monday, 23 May 2016

fraser_1_bwPeace Action Wellington calls for the New Zealand government to cease any involvement in foreign conflicts that ultimately lead to the creation of refugees.

To remember those who have lost their lives while seeking asylum and those who still struggle for it, on Sunday 22 May Peace Action Wellington placed lifejackets on statues around Wellington.

Lifejackets have become a symbol of refugees and the ongoing crisis of over 60 million people forcibly displaced from their home countries by war and ongoing conflicts. People seeking asylum in Europe boarding unsafe boats in lifejackets, risking life and limb, have now had the borders shut around them.

Our closest neighbour Australia has committed to a brutal policy of allowing no refugees arriving by boat to enter Australia. Instead they have created inhumane and illegal offshore detention centres while simultaneously turning back boats in an effort to deter people seeking asylum there.

Here in New Zealand our government has said and done nothing to condemn the actions of those persecuting and turning away refugees at their most vulnerable. The government has not increased the annual refugee quota of 750 since 1987 and illegally detains some asylum seekers in New Zealand prisons in contradiction of international humanitarian law. This is the same government that passed the Mass Arrivals Bill and floated the possibility of having people seeking asylum taken to Australian detention centres to deter any future arrivals.

“We are tired of the government’s sloth like movements to aiding refugees in need and continuous silence when it comes to Australia’s atrocious policies. The fact is that a doubling of the quota would only be a token gesture in the face of the share enormity of the current situation. The New Zealand government’s silence and inaction makes it complicit in the death and suffering of those who have the right to seek asylum,” says Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Emma Cullen.

“The New Zealand government must cease its support of war, and instead at the least increase the refugee quota and funding accordingly.”

ANZAC war glorification challenged
Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Sculpture commemorating conscientious objectors

Sculpture commemorating conscientious objectors

ANZAC war glorification challenged by sculptures of conscientious objectors

On ANZAC day 2016, two sculptures of conscientious objectors in the ‘field punishment number one’ position were placed around Wellington to remember those who opposed the war and challenge the on-going romanticisation of war and the militarisation of this day, especially at a time when New Zealand continues to support and contribute to ongoing war around the world.

Often left out of the ANZAC narrative, conscientious objectors withstood horrific conditions and physical torment to defend peace and protest the unnecessary deaths of millions. Some received Field Punishment No. 1 where they were suspended from poles tipped forward, their hands bound tightly behind their backs for up to four hours per day in all weathers. Two human-sized sculptures were secured to poles in this fashion, one overlooking Civic square, after it had been removed by security from outside Te Papa and the remaining one on a flag pole overlooking the waterfront in Frank Kitts Park.

The New Zealand author and conscientious objector, Archibald Baxter, described this experience in his book “We Shall Not Cease.” Baxter’s punishment lasted twenty eight days.

‘My hands were taken from round the pole, tied together and pulled well up it, straining and cramping the muscles and forcing them into an unnatural position….he knew how to pull and strain at the ropes till they cut into the flesh and completely stopped the circulation.’ ‘I was strained so tightly against the post that I was unable to move body or limbs a fraction of an inch.’

In addition to this conscientious objectors were subject to imprisonment, starvation, beatings and sometimes forced into German artillery and gun fire.

Peace Action Wellington spokesperson James Barber says, “In remembering those who were persecuted and abused by the army and the government for their belief that war is wrong we can bring about a broader discussion of history and counter the dominant narrative that glorifies and sanitises the reality of war.”

James continues, “We hope the remaining sculpture can stay to help provoke conversations and public awareness about ongoing militarisation of ANZAC day, its romanticisation of war, and its promotion of the armed forces, rather than be silenced swiftly as was case when staff from Te Papa immediately removed the sculpture from the flag pole outside. Perhaps if it had been of a larger scale it might have made it inside?”

The first World War was a completely unnecessary conflict. It happened to protect and expand the empires involved, not to defend principles such as freedom or democracy. The millions who died endured tortuous conditions in conflict and were victims of an international power struggle. Many who resisted war, for religious or moral reasons, were subjected to torture and imprisonment.

James says, “New Zealand’s defence industry continues to exploit the Anzac myth for the perpetuation of its war agenda. New Zealand has just recommitted its military presence in Iraq, and its ‘ANZAC class’ frigates are being upgraded at a staggering cost of $446 million.”

This upgrade is being done by the Canadian arm of nuclear weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin. It includes missiles, communications and radar detection, torpedo decoys and an overall combat management system.

It is time to end the militarisation of ANZAC day and end New Zealand’s involvement in current conflicts.

One arrest at Ministry of Defence peaceful protest
Wednesday, 20 April 2016

mod_pic_1No Heart for Anzac Frigates – one arrest at Ministry of Defence peaceful protest

On the 18th April, the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, Peace Action Wellington staged a demonstration at the Ministry of Defence. One protester was violently arrested whilst highlighting the government’s invitation of US warships with potential nuclear armaments onboard to Aotearoa’s shores, as well as speaking out against military spending.

As Anzac Day approaches, New Zealand’s defence industry continues to exploit the Anzac myth for the perpetuation of its war agenda.New Zealand has just recommitted its military presence in Iraq, and its ‘ANZAC class’ frigates are being upgraded in a $446 million contract won by the Canadian arm of global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin. The upgrade includes missile defence, communications and radar detection, torpedo decoys and an overall combat management system.

Lockheed Martin is chief sponsor of the NZ Defence Industry Association’s weapons conference, to be held in Auckland in November. The annual conference, which Peace Action protested in Wellington last year, is an opportunity for those who profit from war, to display their wares and woo government contracts.

“As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles, Lockheed Martin’s role in the weapons conference and the Navy upgrade is contrary to the spirit of New Zealand’s nuclear free status, and an offense to the memory of those who died senselessly from war 100 years ago”, says Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Tim Bollinger.

The Auckland event will coincide with the New Zealand Navy 75th anniversary celebrations, which will see a large flotilla of foreign naval ships paraded in Auckland harbour. The government’s invitation to the world’s navies to attend the event is extended to vessels from both France and the United States, countries that have historically challenged New Zealand’s strong anti-nuclear position.

If the U.S. accepts the invitation, it will be the first visit to New Zealand from a US naval vessel, since our Nuclear Free legislation required them to drop their “neither confirm nor deny” policy on the presence of nuclear armaments on their ships in the late 1980s. They have never conceded.

Peace Action Wellington protested the Navy upgrade and the government’s position on US ships by delivering a cardboard US warship, named the USS Apocalypse to highlight its possible nuclear capability to the Ministry of Defence. Protesters asked to deliver the ship and their message of peace to Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee, Chief of Defence Force Tim Keating and Chief of Navy John Martin but police swiftly arrived. Whilst protesters were leaving, one demonstrator who has a pre-existing injury was violently arrested, worsening her condition.

“The spirit of the Anzacs should not be used for the glorification of the defence industry’s present day war agenda,” Tim Bollinger said. “The $446 million spent on the frigate upgrade could have paid for 7,824 heart operations. Peaceful protests highlighting these issues should not be met with arrest.”

Nuclear Free Wellington Sign Returns to Wellington
Monday, 4 April 2016

Sign readingPeace Action Wellington members are delighted to have discovered that concerned citizens have returned the old Nuclear Free Wellington sign to its rightful place, welcoming travellers from Wellington Airport.

At a time when concern about nuclear weapons is growing and the Government is building closer military ties with the United States of America we should remember the importance of our Nuclear Free status, and the significance of Wellington as a Nuclear Free Peace City.

“It is an affront to this country’s status as Nuclear Free that a naval exercise with United States Naval ships will be taking place in the waters of Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Peace Action Wellington spokesperson James Barber. “The United States of America refuses to confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear power or weapons on these ships. They should not be permitted here and we should not build military ties with a country responsible for atrocities such as those at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.”

The naval exercises are happening this November in connection with the Defence Industry Association’s annual Weapons Conference. This conference, part trade expo and part bidding for Government contracts, has been marked by strong protest in Wellington and is taking place in Auckland this year.

Peace Action Wellington greatly appreciates all the good work Auckland groups are doing organising resistance to this upcoming conference and the visit of the first American Naval vessels to New Zealand since 1984. We cannot allow companies to use war as a money making opportunity.

Weapons Conference Fall-out Continues
Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Weapons Conference Fall-out Continues – Court Appearance 18th February

26 people are set to appear in the Wellington District court on Thursday 18th February. They were among approximately 150 people who blockaded the annual Wellington’s Weapons Conference in November last year.

The 26 include students, teachers, lawyers, filmmakers, office workers, labourers, engineers, mums and dads and face charges ranging from trespass to disorderly behaviour.

“We should be applauded rather than having to waste our time with this court case,” said arrestee and Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse. “The NZ weapons conference is a tailor-made marketplace where more than 500 weapons and military-related companies gather to profit from killing and maiming people.

“People are appalled at the tide of refugees currently fleeing Syria and can see the link between the weapons industry and people forced to escape war-torn countries. They are outraged that warmongers are allowed to hold weapons conferences.

“Many people found it particularly abhorrent that this weapons conference was held at the TSB Arena, a Positively Wellington City Council venue,” said Morse.

“Wellington is the nuclear-free capital of nuclear-free New Zealand. In April last year Celia Wade-Brown, in her role as Executive Leader of the International Mayors for Peace, proudly led an international campaign to wave goodbye to nuclear weapons and spoke about the horrors of war. Then in November, war-profiting companies were welcomed to a city council venue. We had hoped that the City Council would take a principled stand and say no.

“One of the companies present was Lockheed Martin, a nuclear weapons producer and the world’s largest weapons manufacturer. Lockheed Martin was also the conference’s major sponsor. Celia did not wave goodbye to them but rather allowed them to tout business here.

“The people in court this week should be at the very least the Wellington City Council and the conference attendees,” said Morse. “They are the ones who need to be held to account for aiding and abetting warmongers.

“The links need to be drawn between military proliferation, human misery and environmental degradation. Weapon conferences must become a thing of the past. Profiting from war must stop.

“We will appear in court to defend these charges but it will not stop us opposing weapons conferences,” said Morse. “Later this year we will be protesting the weapons conference planned to be held in Auckland during Operation Neptune. If we do not stop it beforehand, we will be there to confront the war profiteers.”