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Auckland On The Brink Of APEC

By Selwyn Manning – from inside the APEC Media Centre, Aotea Square, Auckland.

The skyline above Auckland’s central city resembles scenes from the movie Apocalypse Now. Huey choppers hover above Aotea Centre Square, their gunner doors open and at the ready. The “thud thud thud” of the sound breaking blades pound windows of the new Planet Hollywood IMAX centre.

Security in Auckland has intensified with an armed offender’s squad personnel presence, police and plainclothes security obvious around the city streets and skyline. Also the New Zealand Army is now showing itself in fatigues.

As quickly at the scene appears - it vanishes. The sun shines bright above.

Within the lobby of the Stanford Plaza Hotel there's another face of APEC.

There’s a lot to be read from the tenseness on the twitching faces of United States secret service officers. It’s a bodily phenomenon, which seems to intensify minutes before the appearance of Ms Madeleine Albright or now their President, and peaks to one scary adrenaline rush once the VIPs show their faces. It is a fantastic indication to awaiting media as to how much longer it is before the chosen focus of their attention will be.

Apart from all this – within the side-streets and arterial routes leading into Auckland’s Central Business District – there is an unearthly void.

Is this the cold face of big brother? Or is it a certain sign that the people who only yesterday had full reign over their springtime city, have now had that liberty taken from them? I’ve lived in Auckland for 37 years. I cannot ever remember seeing it this deserted. This, is almost a people less city.

But the world’s media is now here in force. It is planing time, the lull before the storm.

The presidents and leaders and prime ministers are all in town. And at 8pm outside on Queen Street a major protest march will gather.

This evening, tomorrow, and Monday, here at APEC, it is Rock n Roll!

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