Police arrest Green Cross activist.

I’ve been in a bad mood for a few days now, over what I consider to be a totally unnecessary piece of harrassment that an activist friend of mine is currently enduring. Yes, I’ve ranted before about unjust behaviour from the Police, but this time I am truly on the warpath.

My friend’s name is Billy McKee, he lives in Levin, a small town in the Horowhenua about an hour north of Wellington (depending on where you start, lol, or maybe an hour and a half!). He’s an amputee, on a low income, and suffers a lot of pain. He wears a metal prosthetic leg when he’s out and about, but has a wheelchair around home. He’s come down from the Horowhenua to join in Green events many times, most recently we stood together on Parliament grounds on Budget Day to protest the cuts that were to be announced that afternoon, waving a big Green Party banner on the Seddon memorial in the front of the steps.

He’s also the President of an organisation called Greencross NZ, a local branch of the international Green Cross organisation. He lobbies, with other members, to gain legislation to allow medpot, a form of cannabis which is legal, available on prescription, and pharmaceutically prepared in dose limited quantities. This is available to medical cannabis users overseas, and is a compassionate and side-effect free way of managing pain and nausea for many terminal conditions, as well as for chronic pain conditions suffered by many who have had back injuries or head injuries.

Billy was arrested by Police from the Horowhenua CIB last Friday, 8th July, and was taken into custody in his wheelchair. He has been trying to arrange legal aid so that he can be bailed, but in the meantime has had his computer taken by the Police, and earlier today they asked the webhoster to shut down the Green Cross website.

There are concerned members of Green Cross all over the country, along with NORML members and Green members from Horowhenua and elsewhere, trying to find out what state Billy is in, whether his medical needs are being met, and trying to understand why arresting a pensioner with disabilities is the best the CIB can do with their resources.

Here’s a clip about medical cannabis (featuring Billy speaking):

And here’s where you can read current Green policy on medical cannabis on the Green’s website.

This arrest of a man who is solely concerned with harm reduction and compassionate use of medical marijuana is sufficient to make me feel very annoyed with the next Police force member I come in contact with.
It’s been an ongoing joke amongst my activist friends that I need restraint to stop me from kicking a policeman. This time I may just get around to doing that.
I’m sure they won’t mind manhandling a nearly-pensionable disabled lady, either, as they arrest me. I’ve seen them assault people before and then charge the assaulted protester with assaulting a policeman, so my opinion of those who police political activists is pretty low.

UPDATE:
Billy has commented below that he has made a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority. They are contactable at 0800 503 728.

Another supporter on a different website has posted information which may be used to tell the Police how much you think this arrest stinks, so I’m going to quote it verbatim:

Here are the contact details of the officer in charge of Billy’s home invasion. If anyone would like to share some feedback with him

Sarn Paroli
Detective Sergeant
O/C Horowhenua CIB
DDI: 06 366 0522
Internal: 65422
Cell Phone: 027 276 4341

Email: Sarn.Paroli@police.govt.nz

Some people aren’t comfortable with direct complaint to the Police.
There’s also the option of complaining to the Minister of Police or the Minister of Justice. That’s a freepost letter to ‘The Hon (MP name), Parliament Buildings, Wellington’, or you can e-mail them – all addresses are held on the http://www.parliament.nz website. Current MP’s details are here.
Or you can contact your local MP and say that as a constituent, you think this behaviour by our law enforcement officers stinks.

Final push for Mining Discussion Document submissions

During a very interesting talk and film showing by Cath Delahunty last week, it was mentioned that the final date for submissions on the Mining Discussion document put out by MED is Wednesday, 26th May, 2010.

There will be a group presentation of submissions collected by Green party staffers so far on Tuesday 25th May at 12.30pm, at MED house, Bowen St, Wellington CBD.
You can get a copy of the discussion document from MED here, and a submission guide is available here.
Too complicated? Quick submission link here.
Any who would like to accompany the submission presenters are welcome; dressing up as a bird is optional (showing solidarity with the fauna who will be losing their habitat if the mining goes ahead).

The talk and discussion last Wednesday evening at St John’s, Willis St, was a great opportunity to view one of Vanguard Films early works, produced in the 80’s during the last great mining protests on the Coromandel – called “Prospect” – and despite a few moments of hilarity at the 80’s fluoro fashions, we sat soberly viewing protesters being arrested and removed from exactly the same sites that are under question again in the MED Discussion document.

Cath also showed a presentation of pictures from recent visits to sites of old mining claims in the Coromandel and near Reefton, visited by Co-leader Metiria Turei and herself over the past few weeks. The fact that even old tailings dams are still leaking toxic runoff gives no confidence to plans to increase the number of toxic sites in our country by allowing more mining to occur.

Cath finishing her talk with an appeal for more submissions.

Cath finishing her talk with an appeal for more submissions.

Here’s a submission on the Mining in Schedule 4 discussion document

Submission on the Mining in Schedule 4 Discussion Document

I am writing this submission as an individual citizen, albeit one who has had many years of tramping experience in National Parks, and was once regularly involved in taking groups of teenagers on day-tramps, as part of a ‘provincial experience’ during school holiday camps.

My key concerns about this discussion document are that removal of lands from conservation is unacceptable. I feel that this is a short-term measure that our children and grandchildren will revile our generation for taking. I am also very concerned that land which is promoted as being ‘added’ to schedule 4 by this discussion document is actually already gazetted for conservation, and is not any genuine attempt by the Government to extend the lands in conservation.

My specific concerns are as follows (referring to sections as named in the discussion document):

In Section 4: Areas proposed to be removed from Schedule 4 – the 7000ha to be removed from Schedule 4 immediately, so that mining can be considered on a ‘case by case’ basis – these areas all have a high tourism value, which is an ongoing income stream, as well as conservation, recreation and cultural values, which outweigh their potential for one-off income stream through mining. Schedule 4 protection should be permanent, and not subject to removal.

In Section 7: Specific areas proposed for removal from Schedule 4;
Te Ahumata Plateau on Great Barrier Island – the island is a near-pristine gem in the Hauraki Gulf, highly valued by the small community who live there, and is a valued holiday and recreational retreat for the Aucklanders on its doorstep, and tourists generally. Mining would do irreparable harm to the local residents’ quality of life, and the island’s reputation and tourism industry. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.
Sections of Conservation land on the Coromandel Peninsula – this is another diverse region with high conservation values, containing significant tracts of intact forest and threatened species. The Coromandel also has huge value as a wild and natural region close to major population centres, providing scenic and recreation opportunities. Conservation lands in the Coromandel deserve to stay in Schedule 4 to protect the ecological, tourism, and recreational values of this unique peninsula. As a child, this was a place that my family visited, driving from southern Hawkes Bay every summer to share a bach owned by the family my parents worked for; I learnt to swim here, learnt what a rip was, and how to survive being tumbled in a strong current. I learned to enjoy this environment without destroying the allure of nature that we returned for every year, the counterpoint to living in an isolated farming district. For much of my adult life, ‘summer’ is always a concept that I define by the Coromandel summers; any other place is rated by how it compares to this definitive experience. I would consider it treasonous for the Government to destroy this kind of heritage, for a few seasons’ worth of minerals, and I attempt to stop this so that I will be able to look my grandchildren in the eyes when I tell them stories of my childhood summers. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.
Otahu and Parakawai Ecological Area in the Coromandel – These areas, in addition to having all the attributes of the areas above, are home to the North Island Brown Kiwi, long-tailed bats, Hochstetter’s frogs, longfin eels, and banded kokopu. This habitat should not be removed from Schedule 4.
The Inangahua sector of Paproa National Park on the South Island’s West Coast – Paparoa National Park has outstanding ecological and landscape values. The Government’s interest in open-cast mining in this area is irresponsible, as climate change emissions will be significant. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.

In Section 5: Further investigation programme – this is tax-payer subsidisation of the mining industry, as they are the beneficiaries of the information the Government seeks to uncover. Conservation land is for protection, not exploitation – this investigation can only lead to more proposals for mining on conservation land, including Schedule 4 areas. Abandon the further investigation programme.

In Section 6.1: Joint Ministerial approval – This is inappropriate, as it entails handing over decision-making power over activities on conservation land to a development-focussed Minister. Reject joint Ministerial approval for access to Crown Land, leaving such decisions with the land-owning Minister.

In Section 8: Areas proposed for addition to schedule 4 – these are areas already gazetted, and while a positive step, these additions would have occurred anyway, and are long overdue. They do not ‘offset’ removals, and furthermore, these additions should be automatic whenever new lands are gazetted in to National Parks and the other land classification types listed in Schedule 4. I support the addition of new lands to Schedule 4, and the amendment of the Crown Minerals Act to make such additions automatic.

In Section 9: Establishment of a contestable conservation fund – Conservation management should be funded from the core budget of DoC, which should be re-instated to pre-2009 levels. Abandon the contestable conservation fund, restore the Greens’ $4million per annum Community Conservation fund (cut in 2009), and reinstate DoC’s 2009 budget cut of $54 million. I oppose any possibility that mining companies might receive funding to carry out remediation work on mined land, that is work they should have to do anyway in order to get mining permits.

There are also other areas which are not covered by Schedule 4, including national reserves such as Lewis Pass, and all of our World Heritage areas (Te Wahipounamu, Tongariro and the Sub-Antarctic Islands) – I recommend that these areas be added to Schedule 4.

In summary, I would like to re-iterate that New Zealand’s public conservation land is far too precious to mine. I heartily recommend a radical re-think of this document, as the Ministry of Economic Development has seriously underestimated the esteem with which the New Zealand public regard our wild and untrammelled places. These are, after all, the heritage that have been left to us by ancestors who wisely left some places of beauty, some places of refuge for the flora and fauna of our land, whose stewardship should be given at least the respect of serious consideration before these last refuges are destroyed for the dubious and temporary rewards of commerce.

National Parks, not National’s Parks

A very successful protest rally at Parliament today brought it home to the Government that there is serious, committed and organised opposition to their proposals to take Schedule 4 lands off the Department of Conservation Protection list.

Forest and Bird, Greenpeace, both the Green Party and Labour MP’s, The Coromandel Watchdogs, and environmental activists from many other smaller organisations were present to argue for restraint – and particularly, for John Key and Gerry Brownlie to be restrained, preferably by Minister for Conservation Kate Wilkinson, but if not so, then by the people of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Forest and Bird had a table going with leaflets and submission guides to help those who wished to make a submission on the Mining proposal. There were simple, instant submissions that people could sign on the spot, too.
For those who want more info, or to write a more personal submission, here are the links:
Forest and Bird quick submission form
Answer the Government’s questions online
Or you can send an e-mail to the Government about your thoughts on the Schedule 4 proposals, to schedule4(at)med.govt.nz
It’s suggested that comments sent be done as e-mail attachments.

There is a submission guide by Metiria Turei up on the Greens website, here.

And finally, some great shots of the protest were published on Scoop.

Green MP's en garde

Green MP's en garde

Metiria speaking, surrounded by media crush

Metiria speaking, surrounded by media crush

Neo-pagan Winter Solstice

I had the pleasure of attending two distinctly different Solstice celebrations this weekend, both involving food, fire and friends, one private & incorporating birthdays as well, and one very public.

I’ll review the public one, as it covers a few aspects of life dear to my heart.

There’s a fantastic group of people called the Phoenix Astronomical Society, who grew out of staff of the now-defunct Carter Observatory, where I was priviledged to work part-time a few years ago. They decided to set up a stone circle in the southern hemisphere, for the purposes of teaching star-lore to the inhabitants of Aotearoa/New Zealand, as well as visitors.

This is the now well-travelled locus of Solstice and Equinox festivals in New Zealand, and is a locus for Pagan groups (Druidic and Wiccan) from all over the North Island.
I’ve been invited many times, (including the historic Autumn Equinox of 2007, with the High Druid of Britain, Phillip Carr-Gomm, in attendance) but for one reason or another not made the trek – so this time, I thought I’d have a go.
There was a bus from Wellington, a dinner afterwards in Carterton, how hard could it be?

Having been advised to ‘rug up warm’, I layered on as much merino clothing as I could find, under my woolen dress, and got off the bus to find a damp afternoon in the Wairarapa, clouds threatening more rain; and a lot of people in cloaks of many colours under umbrellas, being watched by an even bigger crowd of sensibly dressed locals who’d come to observe the pagans. This was going to be interesting!

I joined with my hosts, members of the Grove of the Summer Stars of Wellington, and was duly offered a citronella torch to bear for the procession. Suitably equipped, I followed our leader and processed to the Henge, circling widdershins once before we entered the Henge to ‘hold’ the Southern placement during the ritual. There was an ‘order of service’, celebrants had parts scripted to play, and a flow of serious proclamations of our commitment to peace and care of the earth followed. I didn’t take as many photo’s as I thought I would, as I became caught up in the meaning of the ceremony.
(For a better explanation than I’m fit to give, see the Woolshed, home of the Grove.)

Grove of the Summer Stars banner

Grove of the Summer Stars banner

The ceremony began around 4.30pm, and continued through the dusk to true solstice about 6pm, when despite the overcast sky and inability to actually see the sun set directly over the sunstone, there was a very eery sense of power having been raised and then released in the course of the ritual.

Closing ritual - Druids Pamela and Tom

Closing ritual - Druids Pamela and Tom


As this photo shows, it was quite dark and cold at the end!

Afterwards, we all piled back into the bus & various cars, and headed back to Carterton, where a dinner for about 200 pagans and sympathisers was held at the RSA. After-dinner entertainment came from Richard Hall, one of the Henge creators, who gave a sound presentation about the origins of modern pagan practice, assisted by Pamela from Wellington and Chris from Auckland.
This has to be the best midwinter feast I’ve ever attended, and I’ll certainly sign up for the next one.

Happy Solstice, everyone, and let’s look forward to longer days now that the longest night has passed. Maybe we’ll even see more sunshine than the fitful streaks going past my window today!
More info (and better pictures) about the Henge here.

Welcome, Cath, to Parliament!

It was my utmost pleasure to sit in the public gallery, alongside many whanau, friends and collegues of Cath Delahunty, and hear her maiden speech in the House – a long time coming, but there at last.

The video, from Parliament TV, and the text of the speech, are here.

We all adjourned to the Caucus room in the Green Party suite in Bowen House afterwards, where speeches were made, refreshments were enthusiastically consumed, and much happy mingling occurred.

Cath and Jeanette

Cath and Jeanette

Gratuitous picture of Jeanette’s speech of welcome in the Caucus room.

Gifts were given, stories were told, and waiata were sung, and the various threads of Cath’s life as an activist, feminist, supporter of environmentalists, anti-nuclear campaigns, unemployed rights groups, disability activists, unions, teaching programmes and various trusts supporting women in hardship, were woven together.

Visitors from Tamaki, Tauranga, Whakatane, Ruatoki and Te Aupouri, as well as some locals of Whanganui-a-Tara, all gathered to share our esteem for this longhaul, hardworking, green-thinking dynamo, who has touched so many lives on her way to this place and time.

Kia Kaha, Cath, arohatinonui ki a koe.

BillBoarding as a Social Support Mechanism.

g.blog just received this letter from a member in Rotorua:

It’s become increasingly noticeable to me that over the last three elections we have received increasing numbers of invitations to erect billboards on front lawns or fences belonging to elderly women and men who live alone.

Last election we had about 7 or 8.  This election it has increased to 10 or 12.

Having erected the BillBoards I routinely offer my contact phone number to be used to let me know should the BillBoard be vandalised or damaged by high winds.

Each morning, almost without fail, I receive at least one call suggesting a visit to a specific BillBoard may be needed because it looks: damaged, floppy, unstable, wet or simply needs attention.

When I turn up with hammer and clouts at the ready, I am offered tea and/or coffee and/or scones and/or cake and or lunch and always conversation. Rarely does the BillBoard need any but minor attention.

As I rapidly approach that age at which I frequently suggest: “this is my last election,” I am starting to accumulate the names and contact numbers for willing election workers and identify locations on my property where BillBoards can be erected – however unstable the location may be. We have got to ensure continuity in our social support system as we grow older I’m told.

Bill (Board) Brislen

Rotorua

First time poster…last time polar

Howdy folks. Green candidate for Tukituki here. May I invite you to my Green Hawkes Bay blog.

There you will find a speech I recently wrote for a candidates’ meeting with the NZEI in Havelock North. My blogpost is here, and the full speech as PDF is here but here’s a taster…

The Greens recognise the power of education: that the long-term future sustainability of our society, economy and environment is in the hands of our children. That is why we have prioritised environmental education. It is no coincidence that our election hoardings feature children, thinking and playing, and say: “Vote for me” and “Vote for us”. Children represent the hope for a sustainable and fair future. The Green Party represents that future, and represents children.

We also recognise that the ability of our children to have a sustainable future is in our hands today. If the world we leave them is trashed, and if we do not adequately equip them for the future, then their future is bleak. The contemporary realities of climate change, the end of cheap oil, the pollution of our rivers, declining biodiversity, unaffordable unsafe and unhealthy food, and the continuation of child poverty in New Zealand – these are our issues, today, and the responsibility to address them is also ours. That’s what the Greens will do.

As a friend said to me this week: “If you think telling your kids there’s no Santa is hard, try telling them there’s no North Pole”. For a future worth teaching for, Party Vote Green.