Dropping the Charges

Unconditional

Unconditional love, solidarity, freedom

It’s been a long, hard haul since October 15th, 2007.
State terrorists kidnapped my friends that day, and terrorised hundreds of ordinary residents going about their daily activities in the Bay of Plenty – not that we knew that initially here in Wellington.

The parents at Te Aro school were greeted by big black SUV’s parked up in the playground, here.
They were told they weren’t to speak of this to anyone, as their already cramped school had classrooms removed from teaching and pressed into service as the HQ for the special squad of Police in AOS and riot squad uniforms.

One of those parents spoke to me almost immediately about it – a former journalist, she was appalled that the Police so casually intimidated the entire parent body of their small, liberal community into silence.

So when the reports began to come through about the way in which the town of Ruatoki was shut down, and how travellers, school children and residents in the Bay of Plenty towns nearby were stopped and searched, I knew right away that our mostly white, mostly middle-class and mostly university-educated community had been treated completely differently.

When I finally had the opportunity to talk with my friends who were arrested, they confirmed that they were treated respectfully; no guns were held to their heads, no children were separated from their parents to sit in an old shed for hours with no water, food, fresh nappies for the babies, no access to them for their parents, aunts, uncles, granma’s … these are the facts I have carried in my head, to my shame, to the shame of all pakeha in this country, Aotearoa/New Zealand.

This shame has made me angry.
That anger at times was powerful, an energy that helped me carry on, attending meetings, participating in fundraisers to help cover legal fees and costs of travel and accommodation for the arrestees and their families.
When the anger ran out and I got tired, I wept with those others whose whanau were hurting; in marae and homes around the country, on various occasions, I listened as aunties, granmas and uncles spoke about the way their family members were coping or not coping, how the children were reacting to the memory of the raids, their fear of the Police returning again.

So now I issue this challenge: now that the Police case, Operation 8, has been found to be inadmissable, I want Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White removed from his post, and returned to the country he came from.
No more racist policing from him or his minions, thank-you very much.
The Anti-terror Unit has failed badly in it’s prosecution of Ahmed Zauoi, and it has failed again badly in this Operation 8. Flawed assumptions, failed communication; using a template for policing developed in another country, to address concerns not of our making, is a huge failure.

So ‘man up’, New Zealand Police. I call upon the Police Commissioner to take responsibility for the failures made by the ATU, by it’s commanding officer and by each member of that exclusive, elite team. This is not the future we want or need in New Zealand. And those guys have cost our country too much already, get rid of them before yet another piece of flawed reasoning creates another costly debacle.

Then there’s the issue of compensation for loss of employment, loss of enjoyment, and in the case of Tuhoe Lambert, loss of life. There’s the cost of incarceration, the legal fees, the vast and incomprehensible waste of time and money that has been Operation 8. That has already been commented on by Te Ururoa Flavell, here, and at the Hand Mirror by Maia, here.

Tonite, I’m celebrating the demise of this case. This afternoon, knowing the charges had been dropped, but not being able to articulate my feelings, I came home and cooked up a storm in the kitchen in my flat. Just as Sam Buchanan calmly put together a huge tray of apple pie in the kitchen at 128 on the afternoon of the raids, so I threw my energy into making a gluten-free apple pie, and a cassarole for dinner.
It was only as I dished up the meal that I remembered Sam’s epic foresight in preparing some comforting sustenance for those who would arrive at 128 during that day.
So yes, we’ve had our hakari here; but tonite has been a bitter celebration as I think of all that has happened in the intervening almost four years since the raids, all the pain and anger and fear and frustration expressed in our affinity circles.

Ka whaiwhai tonu maatou, ake ake ake. Arohatinonui a koutou katoa, nga anarkia me ngai Tuuhoe.

Tuhoe

Te Mana Motuhake o Tuuhoe

A quick update:
There has been a lot of media on this, and I missed a few pieces last night.
Honourable mention to the Otago Daily Times, one of our last fully-NZ-owned daily print newspapers, for this piece quoting Green MP Keith Locke, and Morning Report on Radio NZ National today came along with this, after broadcasting this earlier. TV3’s early news spoke with John Minto this morning as well, video link here. Another news article from TV3 here, posted Tuesday, profiling union activist Omar Hamed, arrested in Auckland.

Advertisements

Eradicating Ecocide – the Tour

Status

Polly Higgins is a lawyer who has dedicated her life to one client – the Earth.

A barrister and author, Polly has become an expert in Earth Law, a new body of governance to give voice to the Earth.

She speaks on all aspects of governance required for the new world, a world governed by a new set of values – values that put people and planet over profit.

Her recent book, ‘Eradicating Ecocide – Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet’ won The People’s Book Prize and was a nominee for both the Book Of The Year Award and the Beryl Bainbridge Prize.

Polly spoke today in Wellington to a lunchtime crowd, as part of her speaking tour organised by Wellington Central Green party candidate James Shaw. Her presentation is compelling, comparing the development of the definition of the crime of ‘ecocide’ to the post-WWII development of the crime of ‘genocide’ in respond to the crimes of Nazi Germany.

She clearly laid out the legal definitions involved, and spoke about several well-known cases of gross environmental damage that have been caused by corporate activity, from the Exxon Valdez spill through to the most recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Her tour continues to Nelson and Auckland before heading across the Tasman, so I urge readers outside Wellington to get to Nelson’s session tonite 7pm – 9pm at New Hub, New Street, Nelson CBD (opposite DeVille’s), and Auckland getting their turn Sunday 4th September 1- 9pm, at Earthsong, 457 Swanson Road, Ranui, Waitakere, Auckland, and in the CBD Monday 5th September 7pm – 9pm at Lecture Theatre 260-098, Owen Glenn Building, The University of Auckland.

She has a website of her own, with great info on ecocide here, and there is more information about her book here.

Final slide of the presentation

Final slide of the presentation

One last irony presented itself as we left the venue – Polly had not realised that the Spectrum Theatre, booked for her presentation, was in BP New Zealand’s head office building. Here she is with James after the humour of the situation set in, just before leaving to fly to Nelson.

Polly & James outside BP NZ HO.

Polly & James outside BP NZ HO.

Update:
Polly’s Auckland lecture at the University of Auckland was reported in the NZ Herald here.

Update #2
A mock trial on the crime of ecocide was held in London’s Supreme Court on 30th September, prosecuted by Polly Higgins. Reported here at the Independant, and discussed here at Learning From Nature blog.
It was also live-streamed on BSkyB, but I didn’t post that up in time, soz.
I admit to dropping the ball on that one. (This will be my only rugby-related metaphor, that is all)

Update #3
Very belatedly, here’s a link to the you-tube doco on the mock trial.

Auctland

I see Aucklanders have been invited to submit our entries for a new Auckland supercity logo to the Auckland Transition Agency and be in to win a $10,000 prize.

But just like everything else about the supershitty, the decision on the logo has already been made by Rodney Hide.

I’ve managed to get a copy:

Global Poverty Project campaign launches in Aotearoa

I’ve been a little busy lately, for one reason or another, and neither been attending many events, nor blogging about green stuff.

I’ll make amends with a quick description of an event I was invited to by the Wellington Activation Manager for the Global Poverty Project, Sarah Wood, which took place at the Banquet Hall of Parliament last night.

MP’s Jackie Blue (N) and Steve Chadwick (L) spoke, as the hosting MP’s and Chair and VC of the Parliamentary Committee to Effect Change on Women’s Issues, and welcomed the organisers of the Global Poverty Project to Wellington, and also to Aotearoa/New Zealand, as they begin the launch of their campaign here.
In Australia, it’s fronted by Hugh Jackman, no less, and has had endorsements from Bono and other celebrities, but you can look at the website here.

In Wellington, we were treated to a very well-presented launch by Hugh Evans, a young man who first experienced the priviledge of his birthright when he was taken to the Phillipines by World Vision as a 14 year-old schoolboy. He realised then that most of the things he took for granted about his life (home, access to schooling, his parents’ jobs) were essentially an accident of birth – if he had been born at the same time, in another place, his life might have been like that of the teenagers he met, who survived by selling scavenged metals on the Burning Mountain rubbish dump that he visited.

The presentation is travelling around New Zealand, visiting the major cities.
It’s back here in Wellington on Friday 28th August, at Rutherford House, Pipitea Campus of Victoria University of Wellington. Lecture Theatres are on the ground floor, there’ll be signs to guide you to the right one(s).
RSVP to
newzealand@globalpovertyproject.com
so they have some idea how many lecture theatres they’ll need! They requested that for today as a deadline, but if you find this late, Sarah is a very accommodating person and may let you off.

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.

Mt Albert by-election, a win-win?

Well, it’s been an interesting evening, what with the regular updates in every ad break on TV3, so I won’t say all that much, as they seem to have done the coverage well enough without my help!
See Russel’s speech after the results.

There’s a lot more on the TV3 website, too. Go fossicking, after you’ve heard Russ!

Toad, Frog, etc – someone please feel free to add a perspective from ‘on the ground’ of the last few days 😉

I’d like to say congrat’s to David Shearer, he’s now got a long stretch to the next election to bed himself down and put his own stamp on the electorate. His local branch have campaigned well, and I’m sure there’ll be support there for him as he finds his feet as a new MP handling local clinics, a habit ingrained with Kingsland/Morningside/Mt Eden/Mt Albert residents by the previous incumbent!

Trouble in Paradise

Ethnically diverse groups of Fijian residents are a concern for social justice activists, following reports of foreign journalists being expelled and censorship of local news in the Fiji Times, after the latest round of crackdowns by coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama. Social networking website sotiacentral.com was taken off the net, and while Fiji residents are still able to use MSN to contact relatives outside Fiji, communication is difficult.

Property and business owners in the main islands, who are not ethnically Melanesian Fijians, may be the next target for Bainimarama’s high-handed tactics. Questions should be asked about how New Zealand will support non-melanesian Fijian citizens, and ex-patriate residents, should the worst possible outcome happen. This is not even counting the possibilities of harm to any foreign tourists currently holidaying in the ‘Pacific Island paradise’.

Today’s Dominion Post editorial says what many have thought, but not voiced in the past four months since the coup – that Bainimarama has styled himself on Robert Mugabe, the arch-totalitarian of Zimbabwe, known now as a genocidal megalomaniac. Our New Zealand Defense Forces, who trained the Fiji Army leaders at Burnham Military Camp, must now take stock of what their protégée’s have done with the skills and tactics so learned.

An open dig at the “intelligence services”

The Sunday Papers have had a field day, following up on the stories about Maire Leadbetter and Keith Locke’s SIS files, which have dribbled on in the DomPost at a relatively slow pace for the past couple of months, and the exposure of Rob Gilchrist which came out about six weeks ago.

Anthony Hubbard at the SST has made some good points here, and the story has been mirrored, with slight variations over at the Herald on Sunday.

In a comment on the post at Indymedia a week ago, I jokingly suggested that every activist in NZ should request their file, to clog up the SIS admin systems.
The folk at Oct15th Solidarity have followed up on that in their latest newsletter, which is downloadable from the website, providing the addresses for anyone to write in and demand, as is their right under NZ citizenship, to have any information kept on them released. Invoke the Official Information Act, if you so desire.

Given that so far, they are known to have targeted politicians, eco-activists, animal rights groups, peace activists, and I dare say, those whose names have been attatched to policy discussion documents or website fora; if everyone who thinks they might have been a subject of investigation writes in, they could be tied up answering the mail for some months.
Finally, a use of public money that is transparent and accountable … 😉