Auckland Town Hall was packed to overflowing on September 15, with almost 2000 people. They heard US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden present new evidence that the New Zealand government has been collaborating with US authorities to carry out wholesale surveillance and data collection on NZ citizens.
Aotearoa New Zealand
New Zealand goes to the polls on September 20. Amid a big scandal of government “dirty tricks”, the Mana Movement is pushing the interests of the working-class and Maori communities. Mana was formed when firebrand Maori Party MP Hone Harawira split over the Maori Party's support for a right-wing National Party government in 2011. It brings together militant Maori activists with other working-class and left forces.
A New Zealand newspaper has sparked outrage after declaring “protest-free news” and printing a white power symbol to mark the country's official founding as a European colony. The New Zealand Herald drew ire from readers over its outspoken refusal to cover otherwise high-profile protests by indigenous Maori on Waitangi Day. Commemorated on February 6, it is a state holiday marking the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British crown and tribal delegations.
Continuing New Zealand’s proud history of protests at sea, attempts by Texan oil giant Andarko to start deep-sea oil drilling are being blocked by a tiny sailing boat. Thousands came out to NZ's west coast beaches on November 23 to support the Oil Free Flotilla in its stand against Anadarko. More than 1000 gathered for the main event at West Auckland's iconic Piha beach, carrying colourful home-made banners with messages such as "We love our beaches", "No drill, no spill" and "Anadarko go home".
A national day of action against rape drew thousands of protesters onto the streets across New Zealand on November 16. Outrage continues to grow at revelations police were aware of an Auckland “rape gang”, which posted videos boasting of their exploits on social media, for at least two years, but did nothing.
Recently, an organised criminal group called “Roastbusters” were exposed as a gang-rape organisation who targeted intoxicated and underage girls, then publicly shamed them online. The police knew about this group’s action since 2011 but failed to stop them. Police claimed they were powerless to act because none of the girls who were raped are “brave enough” to lay a formal complaint. It has since transpired that four complaints were ignored.
The New Zealand government is rushing through the sale of Meridian Energy for NZ$1 billion less than the $3.1 billion needed to reach its goal of raising at least $5 billion from asset sales. It is moving ahead wit the sale widespread public opposition and criticism ranging from opposition parties to investment bankers. Meridian Energy Limited, a state-owned electricity generator and retailer, is expected to divest 49% of its shares as part of a government privatisation program.
A leaked submission prepared by a New Zealand government department raising serious concerns about the risk of water pollution to a Hawke’s Bay river has been suppressed by the government, the New Zealand Labour Party and the Greens Party said. The Department of Conservation prepared a draft 32-page submission on the proposed Ruataniwha Dam. It said the plan poses threats to water quality, habitats and fish species and that reversing damage caused by the proposal would present real problems.
Trade unions, environmental and Maori groups have united to oppose passage of new laws threatening collective bargaining and basic rights in the workplace. The Employment Relations Amendment Bill, introduced by the government in April, seeks to remove existing requirements for employers to negotiate collective agreements, and rest and meal break provisions.
New Zealand celebrities have joined protests against proposed law changes that will remove the right of public consultation on applications for deep sea oil and gas drilling. Law changes will also remove the right to protest at sea. Actors Sam Neill, Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm, former Supreme Court judge Sir Ted Thomas and many others have joined Maori and environmental groups to condemn the government’s plans.
A law has been passed giving New Zealand’s intelligence agencies greater powers — despite widespread opposition from human rights groups, private companies and the public. The newly enacted Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Bill authorises the gathering of private communications of citizens, including text messages, emails and bank account details without the need for a search warrant.
More than 50 people gathered in the Newtown Community and Cultural Centre in Wellington on May 31 and June 1 for the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback. The sessions were filled with lively and respectful debate across a number of different perspectives within the left on national and international issues. Fightback 2013 featured speakers from Fightback, the International Socialist Organisation (Aotearoa), the Socialist Party of Australia, and the Australian Socialist Alliance.