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Open letter to South African President Jacob Zuma


Kia ora President Zuma,

Many New Zealanders who demonstrated so strongly against the apartheid system in the 1970s and 1980s have watched with growing alarm at the direction the ANC leadership has taken South Africa since the first democratic election in 1994.

The events of the last week culminating in the massacre of 34 striking mineworkers with dozens injured is the inevitable outcome of the ANC choice to follow free-market economic policies which wherever and whenever they have been employed in human history they have always transferred wealth from the poor to the rich and stripped hope from the majority.

War is peacekeeping: three more dead soldiers in Afghanistan


Yesterday, three more New Zealand soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Bamiyan province, in the north of the country. The soldiers were part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), which has been in country since 2003. The deaths of these soldiers is not a surprise, rather it is surprising that more NZ soldiers haven’t been killed in more than 10-years of combat deployment to Afghanistan which started with SAS and Navy Frigate deployments in October 2001 immediately after 9/11.

Billy Apple, John Pule and Michel Tuffery join impressive list of contributing artists


The list of contributors donating work to the Artists Fundraiser Auction which is taking place in Auckland next week in order to raise funds for the appeal of Taame Iti and Rangi Kemara, has grown to include three big names from the New Zealand art scene. Contemporary artist Billy Apple has gifted a work entitled “Study of a New Zealand Flag” which is based on data from the 2006 Statistics New Zealand Census.

Peruvians fight same company that takes Coromandel gold


Yesterday a state of emergency was extended for yet another month following the deaths of four people during protests against the multi-billion dollar Conga gold project in Cajamarca, located in northern Peru. The company responsible for the massive Conga gold project is Newmont Mining Company, the same company responsible for the Martha, Trio and Favona mines at Waihi.

Syria: America’s new war, and maybe NZ’s too


Just two weeks ago, the International Committee for the Red Cross defined the situation in Syria as a ‘civil war’. This was widely reported in the media as a turning point in the situation there, but the name belies the international power politics at play within the country and the high stakes being sought. The people of Syria are right now being massacred and killed in vast numbers in a sick political game being waged by the United States and its allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It all seems a tragedy far away from quiet life in New Zealand, but there is a very real possibility of much greater US troop involvement in Syria. Consequently, there is a much greater likelihood of New Zealand Special Air Service (SAS) and even NZ Naval frigate deployments in support of a full-blown US war on Syria.

Major raids in US Pacific Northwest target anarchists and occupy movement


On Wednesday last week, the FBI and US Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) carried out major raids in Portland Oregon, Olympia, Washington and Seattle, Washington targeting anarchists and people involved in the Occupy movement.

Fracking Tour calls for council audit


This weekend's Dirty As Regional Fracking Tour of Taranaki brought together around 60 people from across Taranaki, the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Dannevirke and Wellington. There was also media from local papers, tv, radio and independent film makers.

The day began and ended with tears for many people as locals Michael Self, Sarah Roberts and others recounted their experiences with the oil and gas industry and the regional council.

Celebrating this weekend: the achievements of the National Government


This weekend, National Party members are gathering in Auckland for their annual conference. They will be celebrating their success as they go into the second year of their second term, and plotting for another electoral victory come November-ish 2014.

With this in mind, it is worth looking over the stunning achievements of Key’s National Government.

#ANFS - J14 - Day of Action against asset sales


Tomorrow - 14 July - will see an unprecedented coordination of protests, theatrical performances and hui against asset sales in 16 different towns and cities across New Zealand. In Auckland, we will meet at Britomart at 2pm for music (King Kapisi) and conversation, march up Queen St to the Town Hall for a hui, and hold a meeting at the Pioneer Women’s Hall following the action. Other actions will be happening on this day in Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Nelson, Palmerston North, Tauranga, Timaru, Hokianga, Takaka, Whanganui, Whangarei, Raglan and Napier.

"All Aotearoa/NZ has accomplished since they started selling off publicly owned assets in the 1980s is to substantially increase the now massive gap between rich and poor. This process has been greatly aggravated by trade liberalisation that has virtually shut down manufacturing in this country and by tax cuts that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. We need to organise in our workplaces and our communities to make sure that social justice is not just a vague hope, but that it becomes a reality. Aotearoa is not for sale!" said an organiser of the New Plymouth protest.

Links: Aotearoa Is Not For Sale | Interview (MP3) | Water wars: the New Zealand Maori Council at the Waitangi Tribunal | Details of protests below

Water wars: the New Zealand Maori Council at the Waitangi Tribunal


Updates: Crown cooks books to sell assets (12 July) | You can't sell what you don't own (11 July)

Today was the second day of an urgent hearing of the Waitangi Tribunal. The Tribunal was convened to hear the claims of the NZ Maori Council (NZMC)  representing iwi and hapu around the country regarding breaches of Treaty of Waitangi rights to water by the impending sale of state assets (3 power companies and Solid Energy). There are also third party claimants who will give evidence in the hearing who are not represented by the NZMC.

These critically important claims have the possibility of delaying or stopping the planned sale of state assets. The claimants are asking the Tribunal to issue an interim recommendation to the government to delay the sale of Mighty River Power, the first company slated for sale. Use of water by electricity companies using hydropower is not just a peripheral issue to their main business; rather, water is their main asset. It is the resource that turns the turbines.

The Tribunal is tasked with determining the government's ability to provide redress for well-founded Treaty claims to water. Specifically, it is tasked with determining 1. do Maori have rights to water? 2. If so, what are the extent of those rights? 3. If the government is limiting or extinguishing that right, what redress will be provided?

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