A series of protests, or Hikoi, will take place across New Zealand from April 24 to May 10, under the banner “Aotearoa Not For Sale”.
The demonstrations are being organised against the pro-privatisation, pro-mining and anti-social agenda of the National Party government, led by Prime Minister John Key.
The Hikoi will kick off at the top of New Zealand's north island at Cape Reinga on April 24.
Led by Maori elders and grandchildren, the Hikoi will make its way south, link up with local protests in towns and cities along the route, and join a major protest planned for Auckland on April 28.
The Hikoi will then wind its way south to Wellington for a week of protest action kicking off on May 4 with a march on parliament against the proposed assets sales.
New Zealand's publicly-owned electricity companies are at risk -- Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Genesis and Solid Energy. A bill is now before parliament for partial privatisation. Air New Zealand, prisons, roads, schools and state housing are also targeted for future privatisation, despite opinion polls showing 80% of people oppose the asset sales.
An aggressive push is also on for more mining. This would mean large areas of land opened up for oil drilling and mining, including conservation land, National Parks, private land, the foreshore and seabed.
Australian-owned mining company Bathurst Resources wants to mine coal on the Denniston Plateau on New Zealand's west coast ― a unique ecosystem. The Coal Action Network Aotearoa says the project would increase New Zealand's coal exports by 40%.
The New Zealand government is reviewing the Crown Minerals Act, which many fear will be a pretext to undermine the rights of private landowners to refuse mining companies access to their land and weaken controls on deep sea oil drilling, oil and gas exploration, and the use of fracking to extract oil and gas.
Mike Smith, from the Hikoi Steering Group, told Green Left Weekly: “This is a defining moment in the history of our country and we are standing up to defend the economic sovereignty of our nation for future generations.”
The Hikoi is a “non-political event” so that “all people across all sectors” can oppose privatisation. It is not being organised or led by a particular political party or group. Several organisations have endorsed the Auckland protest, including NZ Labour, the Greens, Greenpeace, the Mana Party, the Maritime Union of New Zealand, Unions Auckland, Occupy, Unite union and Socialist Aotearoa.
[Visit www.aotearoaisnotforsale.com for more information about the Hikoi.]