Palm Island Activist Lex Wotton given standing ovation

Academics and activists applaud former prisoner Lex Wotton at the First Nations Conference at Townsville in north Queensland.


Vanuatu Government must walk with its people on WTO decision ‐ PCC

PRESS RELEASE: For immediate Release Vanuatu Government must walk with its people on WTO decision ‐ PCC

( PCC is the biggest civil society body in the Pacific with a membership of approximately 6.5mill out of the 8.5 million in the Pacific )

The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) is urging the Government of Vanuatu to reconsider its decision to silence the church body and other ni‐Vanuatu voices trying to fulfill their rightful responsibility as fellow burden‐ sharers in such an important decision.

PCC’s Acting General Secretary, Reverend Francois Pihaatae said, the Government of Vanuatu has repeatedly heard the call of its communities, the traditional chiefs and civil society organisations, including the Church body, to refrain from continuing on its current path towards joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“In recent months, the call has taken to the streets because the voices of a people would not be heeded,” he said
While recognising the value and necessity of trade regimes and economic development, their very purpose is for the benefit of the human person; on their own, no system is self‐justifying. The concern for the human person, especially the poor and marginalized, is a central concern of our Christian faith. The question, therefore, is whether joining the WTO will enhance the wellbeing and opportunities for the poor or will it deepen poverty and increase inequality.

According to Rev.Francois, the voice of opposition by the churches, NGOs and community groups, including their chiefs, are both genuine and justifiable given that joining the WTO, whilst offering no clear advantages, will have profound risks to peoples’ livelihoods and to their future. “The binding and far‐reaching conditions of joining the WTO accentuate the inextricable link between what the government decides and the wellbeing of all ni‐ Vanuatu.”

“Concerns stem from what ni‐Vanuatu see as a basic lack of meaningful consultation on the implications and benefits of WTO membership, through to outright rejection of current accession conditions. Such a decision can only be made through meaningful, informed and participatory dialogue with the people, which, apparently, was not the case.Clearly, Vanuatu’s accession to the WTO under current provisions does not have the support of a significant part of Vanuatu society.”
“Opposition to the direction the Government is taking has also offered much constructive criticism in pursuit of more favourable participation in global trade. Alternative view points have been offered by members of the ‘Say No to WTO’ campaign comprising various Vanuatu community groups, local CSOs and international NGOs, which have freely invested valuable resources to inform discussions.”

According to Rev. Francois, this expression of public courage and will by the people to accompany their government in negotiations with the WTO is therefore to be celebrated, not stifled.“Limiting the people’s ability to freely organize in a civil manner and to express opposition to the existing WTO accession package is counterproductive to the very foundation upon which the Vanuatu Government seeks to govern, to serve, and indeed to ensure sustainable security.”

“Rather than stifle opposition to the current WTO accession process through restricting civil organisation, the Government is encouraged to respect and embracethe opportunity being extended by the people to heed their views and to profit from their contributions, technical and otherwise.”

“Beyond the technicalities and specifics involved, whether these concern trade rules or the economicsand legalities of issues associated with WTO accession discussions, it is the firm view of the PCC that there is a key message from this experience requiring discernment.” According to Rev. Francois, the Church, traditional leaders, communities, CSOs and individuals have joined in expressing a common desire ‐ that the Government of Vanuatu heedits people and walk with them.


For more information please contact the Communications Officer, Losana McGowan, Phone: +679 3311 277, Mobile: +679 9068118



Report details unacceptable impacts from deep sea mining by Canada’s Nautilus


Report details unacceptable impacts from deep sea mining by Canada’s Nautilus
November 24, 2011 – Port Morseby, Papua New Guinea/ Ottawa, Canada/ Melbourne, Australia. The Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and MiningWatch Canada and have released a new report called “Out of Our Depth.”. It details serious environmental and social impacts expected as a result of unprecedented mining of the ocean floor in PNG.

Canadian mining company Nautilus Minerals Inc. (Nautilus) plans to extract gold and copper from the floor of the Bismarck Sea in 2012 at its Solwara 1 project. The project will mine active and inactive hydrothermal vents at 1.46 kilometres under the sea. Thousands of these vents over an 11 hectare area will be destroyed. Possibly the origins of life on earth, these high-temperature underwater vents host unique species, most of which have not yet been identified or studied.

The underwater mine site is located close to coastal communities that rely heavily on sea food for diet and income. The project is raising alarm among these directly affected communities, as well as among PNG citizens who question the environmental process that led to the licensing of the project.

Moses Murray, advisor to the “sea bed mining forum” of community organisations from New Ireland Province, East New Britain and Madang, says:

“The PNG Constitution in its preamble provides for sharing of natural resources with future generations. The current trend shown by our political leaders have taken the direction that they are not worried about the future generations anymore. It is “the now” that matters to them. Every mine on land, be they gas, oil, and other natural resources including mining under the ocean is set to be opened. The brain, pen and ink used to draft the preamble of the Constitution was a waste of time.”

Helen Rosenbaum, author of the report, says “Nautilus has prepared a deeply flawed Environmental Impact Statement. For example, the company has insufficiently tested the toxicity of its process on vent species, and has not sufficiently considered toxic effects on organisms in the marine food chain.”

Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, an editor for the report, notes “once again a Canadian company is set to inflict unusual environmental and social harm in Papua New Guinea in a way that would not be permitted in Canada. Canadian mining company Placer Dome dumped mine waste into the sea for many years and Barrick Gold is currently using a major river system as a mine waste dump. It is tragic that Canadian mining companies are profiting from weak governance in Papua New Guinea.”

For more info:
Moses Murray, elishbru@daltron.com.pg
Jane Kesno, President, Namatanai District Council of Women in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea, tel. (+675) 71802362, janekesno@gmail.com
Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, tel. (+1) 613-569-3439, catherine@miningwatch.ca
Helen Rosenbaum, Melbourne, tel. (+61) (0)413 201 793; hrose@vic.chariot.net.au
For a copy of the report see: http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org


Nautalis testing experimental seabed mining in the Pacific

In this video community groups in New Ireland and East New Britain express their views about deep sea mining in the Bismarck and the Solomon Sea by Canadian corporation Nautilus. If they are allowed to go ahead there will be an explosion of deep sea mining in the Pacific.

We have very little understanding of the deep sea. We have even less knowledge of the potential impacts of deep sea mining on marine life and local communities who depend on the sea for their lives and livelihoods.

Another case of greed over the environment and communities rights ... it needs to be stopped!


Waziyatawin Speaks to Occupy Oakland

There is NO Separation between colonial Expansion the ongoing subjugation of Indigenous life, and the Capitalist exploitation of Life for economic gain. Further these objectives have always been pursued with extreme brutality and a callous disregard for any life that gets in the way.
If you feel expendable its because to the current power structure you are, all life is.
In the conquest of the Americas Capitalism is inseparable from colonialism and imperialism." Waziyata Win


Activists hold alternative meeting in Hawaii

Housing NZ development in East Auckland affects residents of 50 years

He whawhai mutunga kore - koira te korero a nga whanau Maori kei te rawhiti o Taamaki Makaurau e noho ana. No ratou nga kainga o Ruapotaka e turakina ana e Te Manatu Whare hei whakatu whare hou.


Public forum on WEST PAPUA

Hello friends,

You might have seen some of the shocking reports that have been coming out of West Papua over the last month (in particular the coverage in New Matilda has been excellent http://www.newmatilda.com.au/2011/10/20/troops-open-fire-papuan-gathering ).

Here is a chance to get an update on the situation and some ideas on how you can act in solidarity with the people of West Papua. And a chance to enjoy some West Papuan food, a film and a West Papuan band The Black Orchid String Band.

When: Thursday the 17th November, 6pm
Where: Bella Union Bar, Trades Hall, Carlton, Victoria.

Freedom for West Papua - the latest on the struggle for self determination and human rights.

***BAND ***FOOD***Speakers***FILM***

Speakers from West Papuan community and solidarity activists on:

- the declaration of Independence and announcement of Papuan government leaders at the Third National People's Congress, and the subsequent repression of participants,
-the ongoing strike at the Freeport mine and,
- the East Asian Summit in Bali bringing together regional governments for strategic discussions (incl: Aus, US and China)

Speakers include:

* Welcome by Wurundjeri Traditional Owners.

*Terry Bukorpioper- appointed West Papuan UN representative

*Jacob Rumbiak-Executive President of West Papuan National Council


Fourth Death in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees Media Release

In the early hours of the morning, on Wednesday 26th October 2011, RISE was given the tragic news that “S”, a 27 year old Sri Lankan Tamil refugee from Villawood Immigration Detention centre (IDC) in the suburbs of Sydney, killed himself after drinking poison. 

This day marked 2 years and 24 days of S’s mandatory and indefinite incarceration in Australia’s Immigration detention network.  It also marked “Deepavali” (The Festival of Light) that he, as a Hindu, wished to celebrate at his friend’s house.  The day before Deepavali, S received the news that his application to visit his friend’s house with SERCO escorts had been rejected by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.  SERCO officers had inspected the house sometime back and had indicated to his friend that they were satisfied with the layout of the house.

With limited access to legal and other welfare support services for asylum seekers and refugees this man was among many whose application for refugee status was rejected twice in Christmas island IDC after they arrived by boat to seek asylum.  S was finally accepted in August 2011 as a refugee, after the long struggle to get through the days in a non-transparent, hostile immigration detention environment including witnessing 3 deaths of  fellow detainees who committed suicide in the space of 3 months in Villawood IDC.

All 8 who protested on the roof with “S” were subsequently recognised as refugees, but now, just three have been released with a visa, while the rest are still being held indefinitely in detention.  One of these detainees is undergoing treatment for tuberculosis after repeated requests for medical treatment for more than a year.  All of these detained refugees, including S, applied for community detention.

At the time of his death, S was held in the “housing” area.  This is the same area in which a family (including 3 children) from the boat the Oceanic Viking are being held.  Like S, they too have been detained for more than 2 years.  Refugees with adverse security assessments held in other parts of Villawood IDC were informed on 25th October 2011, that they would be transferred to the housing area.  One of these men, refused to move, with the statement that this was nothing more than “housing arrest” and did nothing to solve the problem of being detained indefinitely without any offer of a durable solution in sight. 
Throughout his time in detention, S had been quite active in asserting his rights and questioning the actions of SERCO and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship that had kept him arbitrarily detained and moved haphazardly about Villawood IDC, particularly in the last 12 months of his incarceration. These actions included S's detention in isolation as well as SERCO staff conveniently removing him and the family from the Oceanic Viking from their rooms when the Australian Human Rights Commission came to Villawood IDC to interview detainees in the "housing" area. This latter act was considerably suspect given that these two parties had been in detention much longer than the other detainees in the "housing" area.

Just after he got his refugee status, a RISE advocate took down some notes in the faint hope that S would have his visa and soon be able to access our settlement program.  He had years of work experience in Welding (including Gas cutting and X-ray welding) and had worked in the construction industry. Sadly, S's hope to settle and start a new life in Australia will now never come to pass.

To quote a refugee from Villawood detention centre: “Detention in Australia is like tying a person’s hands and putting food in front of him, which he cannot eat; after some time he loses his appetite and he doesn’t feel like eating it anymore.  That is how we feel about life after we have been in detention.”

RISE Media Unit
Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees
247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000.
Donate http://www.givenow.com.au/riserefugee
T:(03)9639 8623|M:0430 007 586|F:(03)9650 3689|Email:www.riserefugee.org/


Decolonise Occupy Auckland : Marama speaks for Maori women

Marama Davidson a member of Te Wharepora Hou gave an update on what is  happening at Occupy Auckland on Wednesday Oct 19, 2011 at Aotea Centre.

Occupy Melbourne Arrests showcase Melbourne’s slide into lawlessness

MEDIA RELEASE 24 OCTOBER 2011 Occupy Melbourne Arrests showcase Melbourne’s slide into lawlessness Staff from the Fitzroy Legal Service attended as legal support on Friday 21 October 2011 as the Occupy Melbourne collective were moved on and dispersed by police horses, dogs, and around 200 members of the Victorian Police Force.

Having attended a good many sites in a similar capacity, staff observed the protestors to be remarkably peaceful. Of significance, there were no observations of criminal damage, projectiles, or violent struggle in arrest. This was despite the enormous police presence (which was not far from outnumbering protesters), provocative tactics, extensive injuries, and what seemed to be a complete and utter lack of regard for safety and wellbeing of community members in attendance.

 Meghan Fitzgerald Lawyer at the Fitzroy Legal Service says: “The use of horses to ride directly into the crowd was appalling, and a measure that ordinary people would consider appropriate only in cases of dire emergency and public risk. When you decide to do that serious injuries are almost inevitable, and really call into question the role of the police in serving and protecting the community.

I personally observed a significant number of injuries amongst those arrested, including children. “The central issue is that political demonstration is a democratic right, and should be given significant protection by the State. Justifying this kind of aggressive use of force because of inconvenience or embarrassment is really a sign that we need to have a good look at human rights protection in this State.”

The numbers of people arrested was close to one hundred, with the vast majority released without charge. One of the big questions is how has a local council come to assume such power to silence political speech and demonstration, and who in government or police command authorized the militaristic policing approaches that were engaged? The rule of law and transparency of government action demands clear responses to these and other questions. Meghan Fitzgerald, Lawyer at the Fitzroy Legal Service says, “The people of Melbourne have a right to know who authorized this level of use of force to be unleashed on peaceful civilians. “It is irrelevant whether you agree or disagree with demonstrators.

The real issue is how important is freedom of political speech, and should peaceful demonstrators walk away with serious injuries and/ or in fear and trauma? If anything, these actions will strengthen some of the core messages of the protest, that the decision making of the powerful does not represent the views or interests of the majority of Victorians. Most Victorians believe the right to protest is worth fighting for, and that people gathering peacefully to express their views should not be subject to violence of any kind.”

For further media comment: Meghan Fitzgerald, Fitzroy Legal Service 0450 977 447


Civil liberties form the basis for a working democracy

Search and Surveillance Bill Submission by New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties
Civil liberties form the basis for a working democracy
Far from promoting people’s civil liberties and human rights, the Bill has very few measures to protect those rights, and a large number of measures that can be exploited to infringe those rights, not only of people suspected of committing criminal acts, but also others inadvertently caught up in the activities. Enforcement agencies should be given powers of search, seizure and especially surveillance very sparingly and with limits and safeguards to ensure they are only used for the particular purposes of the agency. The agencies must not be given open powers such as proposed in this legislation. It is the role of parliament to support, promote and protect civil liberties.

Civil liberties form the basis for a working democracy. This Bill constitutes a failure of Parliament to undertake its core function, the protection of the rights of the people it serves. Search and Surveillance Bill 2009 1. Search and Surveillance Bill 2009 There is no denying the need for some clarity and consistency regarding operations and procedures relating to search, seizure and surveillance in New Zealand. In some respects the Search and Surveillance Bill does a good job in making explicit procedures to be followed and parameters of the powers of police and other law enforcement agencies. The Bill gives effect to the Law Commission report, including the extension of the law to meet new electronic communication processes. However the Bill does much more than consider clarity and consistency, or extending to electronic communication the powers in existing law.

It provides police with rights to stop and search vehicles without warrant, to require operators of computers to provide access to all files, it compels people to provide evidence, and permits unwarranted surveillance of businesses and home addresses. The most serious challenge to civil liberties is however that all agencies engaged in enforcement activities will be covered by the same extensive search and surveillance powers as the police and customs. The agencies covered by this include government departments (Department of Labour and Immigration, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Social Welfare/WINZ, Customs), Crown entities (Accident Compensation Commission, Civil Aviation Authority), local authorities (Auckland City Council), or other bodies (NZ Food Standards Authority) that employ or engage enforcement officers. This massive extension of the powers of these agencies has been undertaken not because of need but in the name of ‘consistency’. 2. Balancing civil liberties and security In the Law Commission report, and in parliamentary and public discussion on the Bill, there has been much talk of getting the balance right between civil liberties and security. NZCCL submits that in reality this argument is used only when civil liberties are being eroded. Only rarely in New Zealand history has legislation increased people’s civil liberties or reduced the coercive powers of the State.

Over the last few years, in the name of the ‘war against terrorism’ there has been, in New Zealand, as across the industrialised countries, massive increase in the powers of the state to intrude on the rights of people. This Bill, in the name of creating consistency between government agencies, in fact constitutes another step in a major assault on the traditional rights of New Zealanders, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act. It provides a range of law enforcement agencies, and especially the police, with search, seizure and surveillance powers that can be used indiscriminately and with little accountability. 3. The Bill in context The Bill needs to be seen in the context of a plethora of other acts that have been passed during the last few years in the name of ‘the war on terrorism’, including the Terrorism Suppression (Bombings and Finances) Act, the Crimes Amendment Act, the Border Security Act, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act, the Police Act, and many others. The effect of these has been to greatly expand the powers of the police, the SIS and the GCSB to use classified information, to use surveillance, to arrest and detain people under suspicion of terrorism. At the same time the rights of those people to silence and to non-self-incrimination, to access to the information about them, and to legal remedies has been reduced. Some of the legislation has been made exempt from the Bill of Rights Act.

It is clear that similar legislation has been used in other Western countries (including USA, Canada and England) to spy on minority communities and protest groups. There is considerable evidence that that also happens in this country. Recently released information confirms that the SIS has spied on New Zealanders' lawful behaviour and private lives for many decades. We know that different police units have also spied on political activists for many years. The number of units and their surveillance of activist groups and individuals have expanded as the police gained new resources and powers under the ‘anti-terrorism’ laws. Police entities such as the Strategic Intelligence Unit, Threat Assessment Unit and Special Investigation Group feed information into a super-spy group known as the Combined Threat Assessment Group that also includes the SIS, Defence force, GSCB, DPMC. There is no effective public accountability for their activities. Given the blurred boundary line between political activism, criminal offending, threats to security and terrorism, more search and surveillance powers for the police will inevitably feed into this network, and the extension of those powers to other enforcement agencies signals the advent of a society where people can no longer feel themselves safe to express themselves openly.

This Bill, then, is not only a covert and major extension of the powers of surveillance and search to a large number of other government agencies, but is part of a system that has gradually been introduced that suppresses dissent and minority views. 3. The role of government The Bill calls into question the role of a government in a democracy, and the sort of country we would like to see in the future. In the news we see on a day-to-day basis the effects of governments that ally with law enforcement agencies to produce ever more sophisticated processes to combat crime. We know that in those countries with the most oppressive regimes crime has become endemic, and the government uses the measures they have introduced to spy on and oppress dissenting voices and minority groups. In a democracy, it is not the role of the government to ‘balance civil liberties and security’ but to ensure that civil liberties are maintained, even if it may make law enforcement more difficult. Otherwise the government itself becomes oppressive.

The Law Commission report spends considerable time discussing what constitutes ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’. NZCCL considers that this Bill intrudes on the reasonable expectation of privacy as outlined in Section 21 of the Bill of Rights Act : “…to be secure from unreasonable search or seizure, whether of the person, property, or correspondence, or otherwise”. 4. Law by stealth Although it has been sold as a rationalisation of the search, seizure and surveillance powers or a range of existing government agencies (described in up to 50 other pieces of legislation) the Bill in fact increases the power of most of those agencies, to the extent that any of them may use surveillance equipment, seize and copy documents without consent, and require both work and private computer documents to be opened.

The Bill also increases the power of police to conduct car and house searches without warrant, to seize property that may be incidental to a search warrant, and charge people who fail to cooperate. In effect the Bill removes the right of people not to incriminate themselves, by making it a requirement that the operator of a computer open up files to the police. It makes it very easy for all agencies to go on fishing expeditions, and makes it hard for suspects to appeal, because their rights to view evidence against them are diminished. It is the view of NZCCL that changes as substantial as these need to be subject to public debate, instead of being hidden in a complex bill that is promoted as doing administrative tidying up. The Bill challenges the rights and freedoms that are at the heart of our democracy. 5. No case for the increase in powers No strong case has been made, either in the Law Commission report or in the subsequent discussion, for the increase in the powers of the State to search cars and houses without warrant, to seize personal property, to flout laws relating to privilege, to use a range of surveillance measures with little accountability, and to charge people who fail to cooperate.

The argument for increasing such powers has been made in the context of creating consistency between agencies, not based around clear evidence of need. 6. The role of the police The Law Commission report makes various benign statements about the role of the police and other law enforcement agencies: “Law enforcement agencies exist ultimately to protect rather than to control the community” (p.23); “The police and other law enforcement agencies are, after all, meant to be of the people for the people” (p.37). It considers that the police are not opposed to civil liberties but wish to protect them. It is the experience of NZCCL over many years that the police have no regard for civil liberties, and indeed have been the main instigators of the erosion of civil liberties within this country. The police push the boundaries of their power to the limit. It is fatuous to consider that police will use sparingly the powers provided in this Bill, or with regard to the civil liberties of the people who are suspects or caught up in their actions. Yet there is little check in the Bill of the powers of the police.

There are no strong reporting requirements for any of the new powers, and indeed for some of them there are no reporting requirements at all. Thus the police are to a large extent able to be unaccountable and act with impunity. 7. In conclusion It is clear that this Bill attempts to do too much, and so issues of real concern are inadequately addressed. Not only has it the potential to trample on people’s rights, but it may also lead to greater confusion than it is intended to resolve, when a range of enforcement agencies determine to use their new coercive powers. Far from promoting people’s civil liberties and human rights, the Bill has very few measures to protect those rights, and a large number of measures that can be exploited to infringe those rights, not only of people suspected of committing criminal acts, but also others inadvertently caught up in the activities . NZCCL suggests that the Bill be divided into at least two separate Bills, so that the guidelines over the issuing of warrants and other powers, and the reporting of results, are separated from parts considering new powers given to various agencies.

NZCCL considers that enforcement agencies should be given powers of search, seizure and especially surveillance very sparingly and with limits and safeguards to ensure they are only used for the particular purposes of the agency. The agencies must not be given open powers such as proposed in this legislation. Finally, NZCCL considers that it is the role of parliament to support, promote and protect civil liberties. Civil liberties form the basis for a working democracy. This Bill constitutes a failure of Parliament to undertake its core function, the protection of the rights of the people it serves.

Recommendations 1. That the Bill be split into two parts, one considering the procedural, administrative, reporting and accountability requirements pertaining to all search, seizure and surveillance activities carried out by officers of any enforcement agency, and the other relating to the increase in powers of the police, to set up road blocks, to stop and search vehicles, to search without warrant, and other powers. 2. That the part of the Bill relating to all enforcement agencies be restricted to procedural, administrative, reporting and accountability requirements, with the authority for each agency to use the powers to be determined individually on the basis that they should only have the power if there is a strong necessity for it in order to undertake their enforcement activity. 3. That the part of the Bill relating to increase in police powers be subject to further public debate and scrutiny. 4. That a report should be written at the conclusion of ALL search, seizure and surveillance activities, whether or not they are done under warrant or other permission, with that report detailing the purpose, the procedure and the result of the activity. These reports should be subject to external scrutiny, both to determine the effectiveness of the activities and to ensure they are used only where there is a clear purpose that could only be resolved by the use. 5. That clear processes of complaint and redress are included, to ensure that people wrongfully caught up in the search, seizure and surveillance activities have their rights protected

Batch Hales NZCCL Committee 16 September 2009


Charges against 13 from Urewera Police raids dropped

Ahakoa kua hikina nga whakapae whakatuatea i nga pokohiwi o te tekau ma toru, kahore i hikina ake te ture e ahei ai ratou ki te korero mo nga hara i tau iho ai ki runga i a ratou i roto i te wha tau kua pahure.


Will Australia and New Zealand really allow sovereignty to Pacific Countries on Trade Decisions

MEDIA RELEASE    13th September, 2011

The Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting final communique contained commitments on many of the issues currently under negotiation in PACER-Plus. The Australian Fair Trade Campaign (AFTINET) and Australia’s aid watchdog, AID/WATCH, today call upon both the New Zealand and Australian governments to take this opportunity to reflect and move PACER-Plus away from being a Regional Free Trade Agreement to being a genuine development-based agreement.

AFTINET and AID/WATCH welcome the clear indication that Australia and New Zealand, in noting without objection the Pacific Leaders Meeting outcomes, has accepted the right of the Forum Island Countries to have sovereign control over decisions about the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor and its role.

The Pacific Leaders agreed “that Forum Island Countries have the sovereign right to determine from where they receive advice on trade matters, and that any decision on the scope of the activities of the OCTA is a matter solely for the determination of Forum Island Countries."

AFTINET Trade Justice Campaigner Harvey Purse said, “The Forum Island Countries have made their position clear. Australia and New Zealand should accept the rights of the Forum Island Countries for self-determination and sovereignty on trade and economic matters, particularly the OCTA.”
Comments last week by the outgoing Chief Trade Adviser have outlined how the most recent draft funding agreement offered to the OCTA by Australia undermines the sovereignty of the Forum Island Countries to choose where they get their trade advice.

AID/WATCH sees this week’s outcomes as a clear way forward for resolving the funding issues with the OCTA. “Given the decisions from leaders, AusAID (Australia’s aid agency) needs to provide a draft funding agreement that doesn’t limit the remit of the OCTA. The directions have been clear and AIDWATCH will continue to monitor AusAIDs response,” said Matt Hilton, AID/WATCH Chairperson.

AFTINET and AID/WATCH also welcome the commitment from the Leaders to raise the level of dialogue with civil society to put it on an equal playing field with business. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key confirmed this in a media conference on release of the communiqué.
Mr Purse stated, “We look forward to civil society participation at the next Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting in the Cook Islands in 12 months. We hope Australia and New Zealand assist with funding to ensure full participation from civil society groups from all forum member states”.

For more information:

Harvey Purse, Trade Justice Campaigner, AFTINET,ph: +61 2 9212 7242, campaign@aftinet.org.au Matt Hilton, AID/WATCH Chairperson. Ph: +61 2 423 106 247, mathrew.hilton@gmail.com


NGOs tell Australia to Respect Island Country Sovereignty – Australia Risks its Reputation in the Pacific


Non Government Organisations from the Pacific and Australia are calling on the Australian Government to not use next week’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting to undermine the sovereignty of the Island Countries.

The call comes ahead of the upcoming decision by PIF Leaders on the mandate for the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor (OCTA), the body established to provide independent trade policy advice to the Forum Island Countries. The OCTA was a precondition of the Islands for entering into negotiations for the regional free trade agreement known as “PACER-Plus” however its mandate has again become an issue.

The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) sees the decision as a matter of sovereignty for the Island Countries. “Previous statements by Forum Island Country Trade Ministers have made their views clear on this, they see the remit of OCTA as a decision that they and they alone should make. Sadly it appears that Australia in particular is standing in the way of allowing the Islands to determine where they get their trade advice from” commented PANG Campaigner Adam Wolfenden.
The issue has become critical following developments in trade negotiations with the European Union. Significant concerns have been expressed in relation to the support provided by the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat. Claims of negligence and conflicts of interest has prompted discussions to move the negotiation support to another body, possible the OCTA.

Harvey Purse, campaigner for the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) sees any attempts by Australia to undermine the sovereignty of the Islands as a major concern. “Australia continues to promote good governance in the region but now appears to be limiting the ability of the Island Governments to determine what is in their interest. Prime Minister Gillard has a chance to use this year’s Leaders forum to show Australia respects the sovereignty of the Island Governments by ensuring the decision on the OCTA remains in the hands of the Island Governments,” stated Mr Purse.

Funding for the OCTA continues to be an ongoing issue with Australia offering a funding agreement that the OCTA has said challenges Pacific sovereignty. “Australia seems intent to pay lip service to the OCTA by saying they support it and are happy to fund it but then turn around and offer funding agreements that limit its mandate which effectively tells the Islands where they have to get their trade policy from” continued Mr Wolfenden.

“The leaders Forum is a chance for Australia to show that it is prepared to listen to the Pacific Islands, and support their right to sovereign control of bodies like OCTA. This would demonstrate genuine commitment to good governance and development in the Pacific, or” concluded Mr Purse.

For more information:

Adam Wolfenden, Ph: 0401 045 536, E: campaigner@pang.org.fj Harvey Purse, Ph: (02) 9212 7242 or 0404 140 886, E: campaign@aftinet.org.au


GCSB awarded judgment against Waihopai 3 without full hearing

Media release: Adrian Leason

1 September 2011

High Court associate Judge David Gendall delivered his summary judgement ruling yesterday in relation to the Crown Civil suit of the three Waihopai Christian activists.  In a 15 page decision Judge Gendall concluded that the defences raised by the three peacemakers fails to make the threshold for an arguable case and has awarded damages against the three men pre-emptively without allowing the case to proceed to a trial.

In contrast, after eight days of evidence at the activists' criminal trial in March last year, a jury ruled the men not guilty of all criminal charges.

In response to the announcement Otaki school teacher Adrian Leason said "Judge Gendall was always going to be under pressure to avoid a full hearing.  Clearly the judge has worked hard on his ruling, however early indications suggest that he is in error on several crucial points of law.  Over the next few days we will have a chance to discuss the details with our legal friends. If errors have been made we will pursue recourse through the appeal court process."

Mr Leason also expressed disappointment that the GCSB was awarded judgment without having to front up to a full court process. The latest hearing was notable for the absence of any GCSB representatives.  Judge Gendall's decision cuts short the legal process by awarding summary judgment to the GSCB without a court considering the defence's arguments, many of which implicate the spybase in human rights abuses and war atrocities as part of the US wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.  Mr Leason noted the GCSB's consistent stance of "neither confirming nor denying", saying "few people would want to know every detail of the GCSB"s operations, however some level of transparency and accountability is not an unreasonable request given the highly controversial nature of electronic intelligence gathering and its key role in the US-led war on terror."

The decision to seek summary judgment rather than proceeding to a trial is an understandable compromise between the government's embarrassment at last year's acquittal and the GCSB's reluctance to be subject to any kind of public scrutiny.

It is a novel measure to seek an alternative route to punishment through the civil courts.  Documents unveiled by whistleblower website Wikileaks recently revealed that after the 2006 acquittal of the Irish 'Pitstop Ploughshares' who disarmed a US war plane at the Shannon Airport in the early days of the Iraq war, US officials contemplated suing the peacemakers for damages.  US ambassador to Ireland James Kenny wrote to then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the wake of the acquittal assuring him of Irish government's loyalty to US war efforts "in the face of public criticism", and suggesting a civil suit or similar measure "to convey [US] dissatisfaction with the Shannon Five verdict"; but evidently it was not considered worthwhile.

Documents were produced during the criminal trial costing repairs to the Waihopai radome and fencing at approximately $1.2 million.  Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson has signalled the Crown's intention to seek recovery of the full amount plus court costs.  He did not make any attempt to defend the $500 million of taxpayers' money spent on building the base over the past 22 years amid the complete absence of any measurable benefits for New Zealand.



Chief Selwyn Garu on land in Vanuatu

Chief Selwyn Garu speaks on customary land in Vanuatu and the problems brought about by (Australian-backed) attempts to commercialise it.


George Jackson - 40 year commemoration

August 21st marks the 40th anniversary of the execution of George Lester Jackson. The Chicago- born Jackson would have celebrated his 70th birthday on September 23rd.

Jackson was a prisoner who became an author, a member of the Black Panther Party, and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla Family prison organization. He achieved global fame as one of the Soledad Brothers before being executed by prison guards in San Quentin Prison.

Based on an edited portion of Prisons on Fire by the Freedom Archives (2001) with video editing by Oriana Bolden. 


Morgan Godfrey comments on Tuku Morgan

Same old tuku tarau he's just another authoritarian Maori 'leader' who hates being held accountable....to anybody. I'm Impressed with Morgan Godfery his comments about Tuku being bound to the ideology of privitisation showed more insight & intelligence than the Maori media hacks that interviewed him.

Check out Morgans blog Maui Street & a huge shout out to all the other Maori bloggers out their giving voice to the unheard our flaxroots.

More here about tuku selling out to private prison companies & facilitating the expansion of the prison industrial complex in Aotearoa.

Tainui supports privately managed prisons

Corporate Iwi: Doing business with human rights abusers

Iwi Capitalists provide brownwash for prison privitisation in NZ

The idea is that iwi, or groupings of iwi, or iwi-private joint ventures will invest in parts of the country's infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, prisons and roads, through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) with the government. This has become more of a reality because the National-led government has made it clear it is more amenable to this type of arrangement than the previous government. 


Tainui chair Tukoroirangi Morgan says Tainui will put its hat into the ring to run private prisons.

Tuku Morgan says the government's announcement to allow private companies to run prisons will offer Maori opportunities to invest, manage and own infrustructural development.... See More

He says this is something Tainui believes is critical for long term sustainability and a matter he has personally taken up with prime minister John Key.

“At Waitangi I was part of the presentation to the Prime Minister including the deputy PM pushing the issue of public private developments. We think it is an intelligent approach by iwi to get involved in important infrastructural development,” Mr Morgan says

Tainui chair Tukoroirangi Morgan says Tainui will put its hat into the ring to run private prisons.



Darcus Howe on the 'London Riots'

Darcus Howe, a West Indian Writer and Broadcaster with a voice about the  riots. Speaking about the mistreatment of youths by police leading to  an up-roar and the ignorance of both police and the governement




wi Leaders, Runanga Chairpersons, Natural Resource managers, Activist groups and concerned individuals

E nga Rangatira tena koutou katoa

The government is embarking upon an aggressive national minerals extraction programme that has serious implications for Maori land, conservation land and the marine environment. A number of iwi throughout the country including Te Whanau a Apanui, Ngapuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngati Kahu, Te Arawa, Ngati Porou, and Ngai Tahu have expressed extreme concern and in some cases taken direct action to protect the environmental integrity of their tribal territories.

To add insult to injury and hard on the heels of the discriminatory Coastal and Marine ACT, the present government is considering a new bill to be called the Exclusive Economic Zone and Extended Continental Shelf ACT which will alienate the marine area from the 12 mile limit out to the 200 mile limit of the economic exclusion zone.

In effect this new legislation will be a rerun of the Foreshore and Seabed disgrace, and is contrary to the rights and guarantees contained within Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

In addition the recently established the Environmental Protection Agency will fast track “projects of national significance” and the EPA will allow by-pass the requirements in the RMA to consult with Maori and this is of great concern to many Iwi Maori organizations and interest groups.

If this is not enough, the government is also secretly negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) with a number of Pacific Rim countries, which will provide the opportunity for multi national companies to avoid NZ regulations and seek compensation from NZ taxpayers for any obstacles to their ability to extract profits from our natural resources.

Therefore I would like to invite representatives of your organization to attend a national hui to be held at Nga Whare Watea Marae, Mangere, Tamaki Makarau 29th -31st of July to consider this situation and develop a national response to these issues.

In reflection it is instructive to consider the national Maori response to the Foreshore and Seabed issue whereby over 40,000 concerned Maori demonstrated against the governments refusal to allow Maori to contest the governments arbitrary confiscation of the marine area out to the 12-mile limit. The government’s response was to ignore Maori concerns. In stark contrast, when the government proposed to allow mining in schedule 4 protected conservation land, 50,000 citizens demonstrated against the policy and the policy was immediately dropped.

As a result this national hui will also engage with a number of environment NGO’s and concerned community groups to develop a united strategy to address these issues of mutual concern.

Date: 29th-31st July 2011

Venue: Nga Whare Watea Marae
31 Calthorp Close Mangere

Powhiri: 4.00pm Friday 29th July 2011

No rei ra rau rangatira ma, e nga iwi o nga moutere o Aotearoa nau mai haere mai whakapiripiri mai!

na Mike Smith
Ngapuhi – Ngati Kahu
National Political Advisor, Greenpeace Aotearoa.
Ph. 021 504486
email: michael.smith@greenpeace.o​rg

Registration Form & Info 


Geronimo Day July 17th Bobby Hutton Park

Greetings Comrades and Friends:

  Due to the limited size of Eastside Arts Alliance, we are having a Memorial for geronimo at Bobby Hutton Park (DeFremery Park).  This event will be held Sunday July 17th.  The park is located at 18th and Adeline in West Oakland across the street from the W. Oakland Library.

  The Memorial will start at about 3pm.  Come celebrate the life of a Revoulationary. For more information check www.itsabouttimebpp.com  or call 916-455-0908 or the BPP Commemorator  Newspaper 510-652-7170.
  We would like to thank Claude Marks of Freedom Archives, Neome Banks of OCS Alunmi  and Carol and Big Man for all their help.

Billy X Jennings


Ballerrt Mooroop Protest

Māori Politicians placate homophobia for votes

The recent attendance of a group of Māori male politicians at the Destiny Church annual conference and their advocacy for the supposed benefits of that church to Māori people highlights the political purgatory that Māori find ourselves in leading up to the November election.

The scenes of Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira, Tau Henare and Shane Jones lining up to be ‘blessed’ and to hear their platitudes of thanks to a homophobic and misogynist institution is not merely disturbing it is sickening. We should never forget the ‘enough is enough’ hate marches instigated by Destiny Church. We should never forget the kinds of hate speeches that Māori gay and lesbian whānau were bombarded with during the Civil Union debate, and the ongoing homophobia that Destiny Church leaders and members continue to openly express with both fervor and hatred.

So, who benefits from a group of heterosexual Māori male politicians standing on such a stage? Not one of those Māori men challenged the underpinning homophobia and misogyny that is espoused by Brian Tamaki. Rather it was avoided like the plague. What does that say to the many Māori gay and lesbian people within our whānau? It says that yet again we are easily sacrificed for 0.5% of the vote.

Dr Leonie Pihama
Māori And Indigenous Analysis Ltd.
Fulbright Scholar, Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, University of Seattle.

Contact may be made Skype (leoniepihama) for further comment.


Concerned Citizens Exhibition


Press Release
More than 50 artists from around New Zealand will be exhibiting work in Wellington at the start of next month to raise funds and public awareness for the arrestees of the 2007 October 15 "terror raids." Exhibited works range from paintings, sculptures, and animation, to a reproduction of the assassination device police claim "terror raids" arrestees planned to use - a catapult designed to launch a bus onto the head of former US president George Bush.

According to contributing artist and spokesperson Lance Ravenswood, the charges against the 18 arrestees of the October 15 raids are "just silly. Any sensible person should feel that the police and courts need a good telling-off about the way they’ve been behaving.” A number of prominent figures have also spoken out against the handling of the case, including civil rights lawyer Moana Jackson and Professor Jane Kelsey.

“Why have these people been denied a trial by jury? Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the legal proceedings? The police seem to be equating legitimate political and environmental activism with terrorism," says Ravenswood.

Richard Meros, author of On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover, will be exhibiting a piece in a similar tone, entitled Your Honour We Eat These Charges For Breakfast, featuring berry-soaked strips of the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act (TSA).

“This muesli celebrates the afternoon the Solicitor General’s office struck down the use of the TSA against those arrested on October 15, 2007, reminding bowels and brains that the charges of terrorism were not even strong enough to be presented to a court” says Meros.

The exhibition will open at the Garrett Street exhibition space on Friday June 3rd at 4:30pm, followed by a screening of Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones’ documentary about the October 15th raids, “Operation 8: Deep in the Forest”. Viewing will continue over the weekend.

“We’re concerned about whether justice is being done here. Lots of people in the community have questions about this case - we want them to get together, experience some great art, and talk about what’s going on,” says Lance Ravenswood. “As artists, we want to do what we can to help 18 New Zealanders who are being punished, before the trial even takes place, by an immense financial burden in a drawn-out battle against extremely questionable charges. That’s why we’re donating our work, to raise funds to support the defendants and their families through the trial.”

The Concerned Citizens exhibition will feature work from up and coming as well as more established artists, including Peter Madden, Roger Morris, Bryce Galloway, Arlo Edwards, Kerry Ann Lee, and Tao Wells, creator of the controversial Beneficiary’s Office installation in 2010.

More info : Here


Drop the Charges: Auckland Forum on the Upcoming ‘Terror raids’ Trial

Public Meeting:
6:30pm Friday 20th May 2011
B15 Lecture Theatre (Library Basement)
University of Auckland

On May 30th a 12 week long trial for 15 of those arrested in the so called ‘terror raids’ of 15 October 2007 will begin in the Auckland High Court.

On October 15 2007 armed police raided homes across New Zealand, claiming that a range of Maori, environmental and anti-war activists were planning terrorist attacks. Eighteen people were arrested – most of whom were held in prison for four weeks while the Police applied to charge them under the Terrorism Suppression Act. The Solicitor General refused to allow the Police to proceed with the terrorism charges.

All of the 15 are facing charges of possession of weapons under the Arms Act. Five are charged with ‘participation in an organised criminal group’.

A number of prominent New Zealanders, including academics, legal experts and Maori leaders have written to the Solicitor General calling for the charges to be dropped, as the trial will be unfair as the defendants have been denied many crucial civil rights, including the right to a jury trial.

This panel discussion will discuss the ramifications of the case for civil rights in New Zealand and why the charges should be dropped.


David Clendon: Green MP

John Minto: Spokesman for Global Peace and Justice Auckland

Tame Iti: Drug and Alcohol counsellor for Tūhoe Hauora Trust and defendant in the case.

Syd Keepa: Vice President Maori for New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Khylee Quince: University of Auckland Law Lecturer

Barry Wilson: Auckland Council for Civil Liberties


Maui Street: Shame, utter shame

Maui Street: Shame, utter shame: "The Herald screams : Maori supporters threatened – claim I don't believe this. This is baseless innuendo straight from Mrs Smear herself...Tariana"


Return to Palestine

On the 15th of May of every year, Palestinians and the whole world remember how it all started. How the Israelis' ethnic cleansing of a people and the destruction of a society - the Nakba - was met with global indifference. Many factors made it so, but among them was a Zionist propaganda machine that illustrated the crime committed in Palestine in 1948 as a war of independence against aggressive Arabs and Palestinians.

It is true that the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab people resisted the establishment of a racist regime in Palestine. And they still do. It is only normal. If anyone comprehends the extent of the injustice that has been committed against the Palestinian people, they would not even ask why they are so determined in their pursuit of justice. And if anyone knows the history of the Palestinian struggle, they would realize that this people will continue to resist in every form until they see the justice they have so longed for restored.

On 15 May 2011, the world is invited to express its understanding, solidarity and support to a people that has resisted... and continues to do so, for Justice in Palestine


Solicitor-General urged to drop case against Urewera 18

Call of Solicitor-General to Stay Case against Urewera 18

Solicitor-General David Collins has been urged to exercise his discretion to stay the proceedings against the Urewera 18 who are due to face trial in early May, more than three and a half years after their arrest in police raids on 15 October 2007.

The request came in a letter co-sponsored by lawyers Moana Jackson of Ngati Kahungunu and Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland. It was endorsed by over 150 prominent Maori, academics and social justice campaigners.

“The accused, their whanau and the whole of Tuhoe have had this hanging over them for almost four years, unable to live a normal life. They already carry the label of ‘terrorists’ forever”, Moana Jackson said.

“Now they face the human and financial costs of a twelve week trial in Auckland. To achieve what? To vindicate the police’s anti-terrorism powers and the waste of millions of dollars trying to prove there was some terrorist plot based in Tuhoe?”, Mr Jackson asked.

“The situation is totally out of hand. The Solicitor-General needs to step in and bring the whole wretched episode to a close, as they did with the Bastion Point prosecutions in 1978.”

Professor Kelsey observed that “The efficiency of the court system has already been put ahead of their right to trial by jury. This is not a clinical, technical case; it requires people’s common sense about what was actually going on”.

“The right to a jury trial is fundamental to this case. And if the publicity means there can’t be an untainted jury, as the Solicitor-General himself said in the contempt case against Fairfax and the Dominion Post,[1] then the Crown needs to stay the proceedings.”

“The credibility of the justice system is at stake”, said Professor Kelsey.


Ma wai e tautoko?

Ma wai e tautoko e,
Te huarahi mo te iwi Maori e?
Puputia nga whakaaro e,
E nga upoko ariki e

Aue, kia manawanui
Kia tupato i nga tini whakawai
A te hiriwa e kapakapa ake nei
Nga iwi e - Ina

Who will support
The cries of the Maori
Unity in thought and discussion is needed
Our great leaders

Be vigilant
Be not tempted by the lures
Of flashing riches
My people, hear my plea!

Written by Tuini Ngawai.

Brisbane Rally 20th anniversary of royal commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody


FMG Great Native Title Swindle

Caught in the act - this is a record of a supposed 'native title' meeting staged by the iron ore miner, Fortescue Metals Group (FMG). It shows how FMG, its agents, a lawyer and an opportunist splinter faction tried to destroy the unity of the Yindjibarndi people and give open slather to FMG for its Solomon Hub project. The video demonstrates the unscrupulous actions of a miner trying to bully traditional owners into a land use 'Agreement' that will see massive disturbance of country and will swindle several generations of Yindjibarndi people

See Also:

Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation


Solidarity From Taranaki: Stop Deep Sea Oil Drilling

"Climate Justice Taranaki sends a message of solidarity to the people of the East Coast who are, with the help of environmental groups, successfully stopping a deep sea seismic survey in the Raukumara Basin" says Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson Teresa Goodin.

"The brave actions taken out at sea are the result of months of organising by East Coast iwi and environmental organisations like Greenpeace, C350, Forest and Bird, Board Riders Against Drilling and the Coal Action Network of Aotearoa. We are looking forward to such actions taking place here in Taranaki where seismic surveying is happening right now, as oil and gas companies' try to majorly expand drilling on and offshore."

"Our group is opposed to the massive expansion of oil and gas exploration in New Zealand because of the increased risks of further oil spills, soil and water contamination and the contribution to climate change."

"The actions taken by the people of the East Coast are an inspiration to us and many others around the globe. We will continue to organise here towards the longterm goal of a fossil-fuel free Taranaki. On April 20th, the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, We are holding a rally in New Plymouth to further raise awareness in the community." concludes Teresa Goodin.


Haere Atu Petrobras

This Ngeri was written at the request of Ani Pahuru-Huriwai in protest of the PETROBRAS hui called at Hinerupe marae. It was completed on the 6th of April 2011. It focuses on the power of unity in challenging times and in times of hardship. It calls for all people to unite and together, overcome adversity.

Here are the kupu and whakapākeha.

Kekē-pōhatu... kekē tī kekē!
Kekē-pōhatu... kekē tī kekē!
Kekē tī Kekē-pōhatu hurihuri, hau-kauangaroa,
Katakata te Raukūmara ā haha!
Aha, Hiti tā-hiti... kekē tī kekē!
Hiti tā-hiti... kekē tī kekē!

The stones rattle,
The stones rattle,
The stones rattle and turn, coming together to create crossings through vast waters
With a rumbling that echos through the Raukūmara
Build the stones high, let them rattle,
Build the stones high, let them rattle!
Na Robert Ruha i tito.

Callout for global support and solidarity : Maori communities face off with Petrobras over drilling permit

Your support and solidarity is urgently needed!
Tino Rangatiratanga Flag : symbol of Maori self determination which embraces the spiritual link Māori have with Papatuanuku (Earthmother) and is a part of the international drive by indigenous people for self determination.

1. Contact media in your country, write a press release supporting the communities in New Zealand that are threatened by mining activities and supporting their efforts to defend themselves. International media coverage is needed to put pressure on Petrobras and the New Zealand government NOW.
2. Use this information to alert your colleagues, networks and members of your organisation to what is happening in New Zealand through email lists, newsletters, magazines, bulletins etc.
3. Send a message of global support and solidarity to nodrillnz@gmail.com. Let these communities know that they are not alone, and that they are a part of a global movement for climate justice.
4. Consider taking action against Petrobras in your own country as a way of supporting what is happening here, and building links between your organisation or community fighting Petrobras [or other extractive companies] and the communities of Aotearoa threatened by fossil fuel exploration projects.


On the 1st June 2010, just 42 days after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and 44 days before the well was capped, Brazilian company Petrobras was awarded by The New Zealand Government a five year exploratory license for oil and gas in the Raukumara Basin, situated in the East Cape / Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand). The license starts from a mere 4 kilometres offshore and goes out to 110 km. The granted permit area is 12,330 sq km. The New Zealand government sees just 6% of the profit Petrobras makes. If the project goes ahead, Petrobras will bring in their own workforce and maybe offer a few short term jobs.
The area for exploration is the traditional fishing grounds of indigenous peoples from the tribes and sub-tribes of Te Whānau-a-Apanui and Ngāti Porou. There was no prior consultation with these communities whatsoever.
The New Zealand National Party was elected in 2008 to lead a coalition government that has been committed to opening up the land and sea around the country for oil, gas and other minerals extraction in the interests of national economic development. A policy to mine pristine conservation lands was abandoned in 2010 when huge public opposition, supported by many environmental organisations, expressed widespread opposition to the plan, however, the areas remaining open to exploitation cover an area 42 times greater than that which is currently being mined, across most of Aotearoa.
A visit from a vessel contracted to Petrobras is expected to arrive off the East Cape on the weekend of the 2nd-3rd of April 2011. In response to a call to oppose deep sea oil drilling from East Cape iwi (tribe) Te Whanau a Apanui, a flotilla of ships is to set sail from Auckland, for the East Cape to confront the exploration vessel. People are being asked to light fires on the beaches and hui (meetings) are being called along the coast to mobilise the communities on land.
BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill superimposed on to the Raukumera permit zone
The Raukumara Basin sits on a major and active fault line. In a high seismic activity area such as the Raukumara Basin there is an extremely high possibility that there would be damage to any sub-sea installations (wells, pipe lines) in the probable event of an earth quake. The exploration area regularly experiences +4 or +5 magnitude quakes and lies on the same faultline as the one that recently devastated the South Island city of Christchurch.
The massive oil and gas spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which took three months to cap and spilled millions of barrels of oil, was an exploratory drill. The depth of the exploratory drill
in the Gulf of Mexico was 1500 metres. In the Raukumara Basin proposed depths range from 1500 metres to 3000 metres, yet NZ has almost no capacity to deal with a major spill and has no adequate or enforceable means of compensation. It is entirely unknown what impacts the 240db sonic booms shot from the exploration vessel during the 2d seismic exploration phase will have on aquatic life, particularly regarding marine mammals. The area is at the heart of a well documented whale migration route.
The region’s history revolves around the moana (sea) and the Iwi (Maori tribes) have many stories that speak of the cultural and spiritual significance of the sea. It holds some of the most central and important history of the iwi threatened by Petrobras’s search for hydrocarbons and profit on behalf of its shareholders.
For as long as the Maori communities of the East Cape can remember, their daily lives, tikanga (customs) and whakapapa (ancestry) have been connected to the sea. “The sea is forever in our lives” says coastal community member Ora Barlow of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui.
The CO2lonisation of Aotearoa

Petrobras has recently become the third biggest petroleum company in the world after implementing the largest share offer in the history of capitalism, specifically to raise funds for offshore oil exploration at a time when the world stands on the brink of runaway climate change and global oil reserves are peaking. Increasingly dan
gerous extraction projects are becoming more commonplace in an industry desperate to maintain its grip on the world’s energy systems. As a result, communities most directly affected by the exploitation of fossil fuel reserves are facing unprecedented levels of risk as these companies target what they call ‘unconventional’ fossil fuel reserves.
The New Zealand government has given permission to a foreign company, with an abhorrent social and environmental record the permission to threaten these coastal communities without any prior consultation whatsoever. An oil spill will mean nothing less than cultural genocide for a region that has managed to maintain a great deal of its traditionally cared for land and traditional knowledge of environmental management against all odds. Toka Tū Moana is their renowned phrase (whakatauakii) that declares steadfastness and resilience, standing firm and unshakeable, despite adversity. A great deal of effort is made within these communities to maintain knowledge of traditional environmental management and many programmes are underway to transition these communities back towards states of true community resilience. “Our tipuna (ancestors) practised sustainable living, we can do it too, they relied on whanaungatanga (collective living), and so do we.” – Ani Pahuru-Huriwai, Ngati Porou
However, an oil spill, and climate change itself may well wipe out the entire coastal community’s ability to maintain whatever level of traditional food sovereignty and self sufficiency they have left.

When the government announced their awarding of this permit to Petrobras, local Maori symbolised their opposition to the plans of Petrobras and the New Zealand government by lighting fires along their coastline. Ms Pahuru-Huriwai of Ngati Porou (one of the closest communities to the permit area) said. “This is the way we all informed each other, signalled each other way back – through fire. In this case we’re saying that it’s Petrobras that we’re all against.”.“It’s a serious threat to us and our kapata kai (food cupboard). It’s not just a Maori thing either – we think every Kiwi (New Zealander) has an issue with it. Everyone who is scared of what’s happening, they need to be here.”
Several months later and with no sign of Petrobras or the New Zealand government changing their plans, a music festival under the banner of ‘Stop The Drilling!’ was held in Te Kaha, a region adjacent to the permit area. One and a half thousand people showed up to show their support, dwarfing the resident population of that particular tribal
area. Crowds shouted ‘Stop the Drilling!!’ and spoke of defending their community from attack by sea.
Petrobras have approached local runanga (tribal leaders) and have entered into a process of communication with them. The runanga have communicated to Petrobras the position of the communities that no consent will be given to Petrobras to follow through with the project. Preparations have been made by Iwi leadership to apply for a judicial review of the decision made to grant the permit, and for communication with the United Nations while local Maori have, with support from environmentalists, fishermen and others, established the Ahi Ka Action Group to campaign for a revocation of the permit and a decision not to explore the area.
The Ahi Ka Action Group have distributed 20,000 flyers to raise public awareness of the situation, they have established a basic website and have lobbied local authorities to throw their weight behind efforts to prevent exploration and extraction activities in the permit area. The group has been linking up with individuals and groups in other parts of Aotearoa and overseas who are under threat from mining in their area. A national networking and information sharing website is under development at: www.nodrilling.org.nz

Petrobras has contracted a vessel to undertake the first stage of seismic testing in the Raukumara permit area and this work is due to start in March 2011.


With such a massive proportion of land and sea being opened up to mining companies, communities across the country are getting ready to defend themselves.
On the West coast of the North Island communities of Taranaki are also under attack from land and sea with 13 new onshore/coastal permits and 15 new offshore permits being handed out by the government. Parihaka, a settlement of huge cultural and historical significance  which In the 1870s and 1880s became the centre of a major campaign of non-violent resistance to European occupation of confiscated land in the area is already surrounded by oil and gas exploration projects and is now facing even more. The company Greymouth Petroleum is focus­sing on northern to central Taranaki while companies Kea Petroleum, TAG Oil, Green Gate, L&M Energy and Todd Energy are targeting the rest of inland eastern and southern Taranaki. There is a great deal of concern surrounding the increased use of hydraulic fracturing to access oil and gas reserves in this area, a highly dangerous extraction process recently banned in some places in of the United States.
Down South, government-owned Solid Energy and other coal companies want to mine massive quantities of lignite, a low-quality brown coal, that lies under Southland farmland. They plan to turn it into briquettes, urea fertiliser, and synthetic diesel. At least 6.2 billion tonnes of lignite is technically and economically recoverable in 10 major deposits in Otago and Southland. The in-ground lignite resource is approximately 11 billion tonnes. A wide range of local and national groups are gearing up to stop these developments.

Up North, permits for a wide range of minerals, including gold are spurring communities into defensive action and communities are linking up with one another and a national level movement is coalescing to stop the drilling across the country.


Of course, this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, Petrobras and the fossil fuel industry in general has a long and bloody history of threatening the very existence of communities in order to access fossil fuel reserves. “it’s an international issue and we have to make sure our local support is strong and then globalise” – Ora Barlow, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui

While politicians fiddle around in flailing international negotiations to halt runaway climate change, their hands tied behind their backs by the most powerful consortium of companies the world has ever known, these communities, and others directly impacted by the root causes and impacts of the climate crisis are successfully standing together and defeating them in their own back yards.
“We must stand united with other hapu, other iwi, other New Zealanders who care about the environment. We must keep pressure on our government to wake up and show some long-term leadership, make Aotearoa a Renewable Energy Country, no longer reliant on Fossil Fuels like oil & gas, that the human race is quickly exhausting. We are a nuclear free country; we need to be a fossil fuel free country too!” – Ani Pahuru-Huriwai, Ngati Porou

“We must support those who carry this kaupapa for us to the international stage. We must unite with other indigenous peoples and learn from their experiences.” – Ani Pahuru-Huriwai, Ngati Porou
As the case of the BP oil spill and those lower income communities hit hardest by hurricane Katrina illustrates, the communities most vulnerable to environmental destruction are also those most
susceptible to the climate crises. Those hit first and worst are most often the least responsible for the crisis yet are actively leading the fight against major climate polluters. They require globalised support and solidarity in defending their answers to an ecological crisis which they have not caused or reaped untold profits from.

Te Whanau a Apanui spokeswoman Dayle Takutimu has called on the whole country to support their stand, at a time when seismic surveying by Brazilian oil giant Petrobras is expected to begin off the Cape.

“We are resolute in our defence of our ancestral lands and waters from the destructive practice of deep sea oil drilling. This is an issue for all peoples of New Zealand and we call on those who support our opposition to stand with us in defence of what we all treasure,” she says.

Contact : climatejusticeaotearoa@riseup.net for global climate justice movement related contact on the situation