What do we do about a Pacific arms race and rising regional tensions? Build a powerful peace movement

Over the last few weeks, we have heard and read a torrent of news stories about the Chinese military and security in the Pacific. The US and Australia are ringing alarm bells and seeking some ‘re-engagement’ in the region. But for the people on the front lines, more weapons, troops and military deployments actually mean less security and less freedom.

Now is the time for a Weapons-Free and Independent Pacific
There is a different opportunity presented by this moment: a weapons-free and independent Pacific. The work of the Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific movement, which was firmly grounded in the decolonisation of all of the Pacific peoples, is not complete. We now live in the region of the fastest growing arms race. It is time to expand that vision to include all weapons – not just nuclear weapons. This is a vision for real peace and security instead of endless preparation, training and spending for war. No more do we want billions spent for new and better ways to kill each other; we must use all of our collective energy and resources to address climate change, environmental destruction, poverty, corporate exploitation and ongoing colonial racism. We can do it.

Cancel RIMPAC 2022
Peace Action Wellington is part of an international campaign to cancel the US military’s largest live combat maritime training: RIMPAC (short for ‘Rim of the Pacific’) due to start on 26 June and run through August in and around Hawai‘i. The NZDF is part of this combat training. Read more about RIMPAC>>

We want you to join us to build a strong and vibrant peace movement in Aotearoa that embraces decolonisation and demiltiarisation as the way forward. 

Sign our petition to Cancel RIMPAC

Join us on Saturday, 18 June 2022 from 1-5pm for a creative resource making day at the Newtown Hall in Wellington. Facebook event here

Email the Defence Minister Peeni Henare (peeni.henare@paraliament.govt.nz) and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta (nanaia.mahuta@paraliament.govt.nz) with the following message:

Kia ora Minister Henare and Minister Mahuta,

I’m writing to you to urge you to completely withdraw all NZDF participation in the US Navy’s upcoming “Rim of the Pacific” (RIMPAC) live combat training during July-August 2022. I want to see Aotearoa NZ embrace decolonisation and demilitarisation of the Pacific, not feed into the growing arms race and military build up.

RIMPAC is a real and present danger to the Pacific. It further raises tensions between the US and China, and adds to the environmental damage, economic fragility and social destruction of the Pacific.

New Zealand has the chance now to exercise independent foreign policy and be a Pacific partner and a model for other countries by choosing not to participate in 2022. In 1982 New Zealand withdrew from RIMPAC activities. We can do it again.

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No NZDF to US Pacific war training

Against the backdrop of Jacinda Ardern’s recent trip to Washington DC cementing further military cooperation with the US, Indigenous and peace groups are demanding that the NZDF completely withdraw from participation in the US Navy’s upcoming “Rim of the Pacific” (RIMPAC) live combat training during July-August 2022 with the launch a new campaign. 

RIMPAC is a maritime warfare exercise based in and around Hawai’i used to demonstrate US domination and control of the Pacific Ocean. It happens every two years. It includes 20+ other nations, 25,000 troops and thousands of weapons.


The NZDF is sending 78 soldiers from the HMNZS Matataua and the Army’s 16 Field Regiment as well as the Navy vessel HMNZS Aotearoa. 

“RIMPAC pretends to promote safety all the while perpetuating harm, destruction, and violence. These military war games are an assault against Kānaka Maoli and other Pacific peoples whose lands and waters have long been used as sacrifice zones and whose lives have been dismissed and disregarded. New Zealand has an opportunity to set a new standard by withdrawing from RIMPAC. To do so would be to prioritise care, environmental protection, and the right of Pacific and Indigenous peoples to self-determination,” said Dr Emalani Case, member of the Cancel RIMPAC Coalition.

Coalition member Marco de Jong adds, “The superpower scramble for influence is jeopardising peace in the Pacific. Polarising rhetoric, reactionary diplomacy, and wargames only prompt escalation. New Zealand must maintain principled distance and contribute to the alternative security vision held by other Pacific nations. This is centred on climate response and socio-economic resilience as outlined in the Boe and Biketawa Declarations. We must contribute to the rebuilding of Pacific regionalism lest superpowers divide and conquer to the detriment of all.” 

“An independent and Indigenous foreign policy, marshalled in service of Pacific regionalism is powerful. Remember that New Zealand draws its international standing from its place and influence in the Pacific. Playing American lapdog is equivalent to authoritarian apologist and jeopardises NZ interests. By contributing to the rebuilding of Pacific regionalism—in ways consistent with regional priorities, our Pacific identity, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi—we have our last and best chance to fulfil our diplomatic potential as Aotearoa.”

During RIMPAC, deadly weapons are used on land and sea causing massive environmental destruction to the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific Ocean. The live fire training involves shelling islands; using bombs and missiles to sink ships, leaving ammunition, debris and wreckages in the sea; and detonating underwater explosives. The US Navy is exempt from the Marine Mammal Protection Act meaning it can test underwater sonar weapons that kill and injure whales, dolphins and other species. The US military is also the world’s largest single user of fossil fuels and exercises like this have a massive carbon footprint.

“New Zealand has the chance now to exercise independent foreign policy and be a Pacific partner and a model for other countries by choosing not to participate in 2022. In 1982 New Zealand withdrew from RIMPAC activities. We can do it again,” said Mr de Jong.

“We believe in a free and independent Pacific. We believe in a Pacific that is free of colonialist & imperialist violence; and free of the constant threat of military harm and imminent war. Until this is realised for all people of the Pacific and for all people of this world, our stance and intentions remain unchanged. We call for the cancellation of RIMPAC and  for the complete eradication of all war and military violence in our lands and waters. We stand in support and echo the demands of our siblings across the Pacific, and implore all members of our communities to join the struggle for a Pacific free of war and colonial violence,” said Tāwhana Chadwick from IPU: Indigenous Pacific Uprising and a Coalition member.

The Cancel RIMPAC coalition includes IPU: Indigenous Pacific Uprising, Te Kuaka – NZ Alternative, Peace Movement Aotearoa, Peace Action Wellington, Auckland Peace Action, Aotearoa Philippines Solidarity and social justice activists.

Over 1,700 New Zealanders have already signed a petition in the last two years demanding the government not send troops, this year or in future, to this large-scale military exercise.

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Ardern’s visit should focus on peace, decolonisation

Peace Action Wellington says that Jacinda Ardern’s trip to Washington DC and meeting with US President Joe Biden should focus on peace and decolonisation in the Pacific.

US Pacific Fleet

“Jacinda Ardern’s visit comes immediately on the heels of Joe Biden’s trip to Japan for a meeting of the ‘Quad’ – the US, Australia, India and Japan – that intends to dramatically increase militarisation of the Pacific region. Ardern’s own visit to Japan recently also stressed growing military cooperation,” said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.

“All of this must be seen as a direct response to Chinese military expansion in the region. China now has the world’s largest navy and is seeking security pacts with Pacific nations.”  

“Against the backdrop of the horror in Ukraine and increased military spending by both the US and New Zealand, it is imperative that we push for a vision of a peaceful and decolonised Pacific. This should be the focus of Ardern’s trip to Washington.”

“We think that this ‘tit for tat’ is a step in the wrong direction, and risks greatly increasing the risks of a Pacific war.”

“Instead of more weapons and military deployments across the region, we need some real leadership with a vision of a demilitarised and decolonised Pacific region. Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta could be champions for a real indigenous-centred peace processes across the region that sought to build trust between peoples, and that put the issue of Pacific decolonisation squarely back on the table.”

“The ‘security’ that both the US and China promote simply means their control over critical shipping routes, over resources and over markets. It is not security from the impending crisis of climate change, nor of the ongoing impacts of nuclear weapons testing and radioactive waste. It is not a security that cares for refugees fleeing war nor one that guarantees all people the right to determine their own futures.”

“The people of Guam, Hawai’i, New Caledonia, West Papua, American Samoa and French Polynesia are still not free from imperialist rule.”

“We strongly urge Ardern to use her trip to Washington to promote peace and decolonisation in the Pacific. By developing strategies to dial down military spending, training and deployments while devising trust building exercises we could begin to chart a very different and very positive future.” 

“The military build up of the region is a catastrophe in the making. We must do everything in our power to work for real peace and decolonisation.”

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Weapons dealer Lockheed also provides NZ police uniforms

In April, police told their staff the factories that make the uniforms have either closed or have less staff working because of the pandemic.

“We are working with our suppliers to get our uniform stocks back up to a reasonable level as fast as possible.”

Lockheed Martin, which works with the supply chain that distributes the uniforms, has been asked to order them for the police college.

“As soon as the backorders are cleared we will ask Lockheed Martin to issue uniforms to the districts,” police told staff.

Read the full article from Newshub

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Anzac Day 2022: Remembering War – Commemoration as Disinformation

Each year around Anzac Day, our settler-colonial nation state invokes the myth of the honourable fallen soldier. The young ANZAC fighting for King and Country features as a convenient figure upon which to project national pride and from which to construct a national identity. As citizens we are led to believe that the sacrifice of thousands of young New Zealanders’ lives in the name of empire and conquest is worthy rather than exploitative. War is presented to us as inevitable, and in the interests of the freedom and welfare of ordinary people, as we are lulled into a comfortable Lest-We-Forget trance adorned with poppies and sanitized beyond recognition. We are made to consume disinformation masquerading as commemoration.

In recognition of the stark urgency for countering the ways in which remember and relate to these narratives, we have a line-up of panellists who are at the cutting edge of thought and advocacy in these intersections, offering us their knowledge and helping us navigate the current atmosphere of disinformation. Join us for an evening of ethical remembering, where we will draw out the links between war, militarism, capitalism, and climate change, while mapping the ways in which colonial and white supremacist historical narratives have allowed for them to propagate. Tune into our online event for some sobering and empowering discussions that remain largely absent from mainstream ANZAC discourse. We invite you to learn, unlearn, and reimagine a just future.

Join speakers Dr Emalani Case, Dr Mahdis Azarmandi, MP Teanau Tuiono and writer/activist Anne Russell

REGISTER HERE: https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/anzac-day-2022-remembering-war-commemoration-as-disinformation-tickets-315815501667

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