TPPA protest in Rotorua

Political protests are rare in a town like Rotorua but on Saturday 8th November, 100-150 locals joined thousands of others from around the country who marched in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

The participants were a mix of ages and represented a range of organisations, including political parties, tino rangatiratanga activists, community organisations, concerned whanau and individuals.

The march weaved through the CBD, keeping up a strong spirit of participation through chants, the most popular being “TPPA…Taking People’s Power Away!”, and interacting with passers-by through discussing the purpose of the march.

After about 45 minutes, the march arrived at City Focus, in the centre of town. Speeches were heard from the organisers, locals and politicians. The speeches touched on a number of aspects of the TPPA and what is wrong with it, including the secrecy surrounding the negotiations and the power it gives to corporate interests. Although participants were obviously in agreement with much of what the speakers said, it was refreshing that not everyone received a free ride. For example, the co-leader of the Maori Party Te Ururoa Flavell was heckled for having supported the National government for the past 6 years, showing up his supposed opposition as shallow against that backdrop. There were also calls for the Beehive to be shut down, and many attendees took the opportunity to talk and share with each other rather than sit passively listening to the professional politicians.

Marches, speeches and information sharing are not sufficient to see change made but in the context of a town where political action of any sort rarely happens, the day’s action was a step forward.

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