Occupy Aotearoa: A brief summary
Occupy Aotearoa: A brief summaryBy Anne Russell
October 18, 2011
Occupy Wellington- Tent village
Occupy movements around the country entered their fourth day today. The occupations of public space, inspired by Occupy Wall Street, began on October 15th as part of the global Occupy Together movement. The movements are non-partisan, leaderless, grassroots demonstrations against economic inequality and corporate greed and impunity.
Unlike some of the Occupations, such as Rome, all of the Occupy Aotearoa movements are explicitly non-violent. This is in keeping with Occupy Wall Street, where most and possibly all violence has been initiated by the NYPD. Occupy Aotearoa events are generally inclusive, family-friendly demonstrations with no drugs or alcohol.
Occupy Wellington began on Saturday with 300 or so protesters. There are currently around 50 people camping in Civic Square, with other supporters dropping in at different times of the day. Although we have had trouble with typical Wellington wind and rain bringing down the tarpaulin which formed a community tent, everyone is holding together. Consensus decision-making has worked quite well so far; we have morning and evening general assemblies, facilitated by a different person each time.
Discussion was held at the initial Saturday march on when to return to Civic Square. A woman spoke about Labour Day, a public holiday celebrating the 8-hour working day that workers fought and died to achieve. We agreed that Labour Day was an appropriate time to reconvene; the current campers are thus expecting a surge of people next Monday. Please come to Civic Square at 1pm on Monday October 24th for further action.
Around 2,000 protesters marched up Queen Street to Aotea Square on Saturday. There are approximately 100 people currently camping there. Meetings with the City Council seem to have gone smoothly, and the Occupation will not be asked to leave.The Occupiers have stated that they have no plans to disrupt the Rugby World Cup events happening over the weekend.
Occupy Auckland has acknowledged the complicated connotations surrounding the use of the term ‘occupy’. There have been complaints worldwide that it is offensive to indigenous people; in America and New Zealand, the Occupiers are demonstrating on occupied land. Occupy Auckland’s website addressed this in the following statement:
“We recognise Aotea Square as Ngati Whatua land and that it is also a public space. Ngati Whatua have kindly consented to us ‘occupying’ this land.”
Occupy Christchurch and Dunedin
Occupy Christchurch are currently set up in South Hagley Park. Some reports claimed there were only 30 protesters, which is plainly untrue, as shown by this video footage of hundreds of people. Over 300 showed up on Saturday.
Christchurch protesters clearly have a lawyer in the crowd; they have drawn up a detailed document of legal rights, and what protesters should do if confronted by police, which can be accessed here. Other Occupiers would do well to examine this.
Dunedin protesters are set up in the Octagon, with around 30 tents. A contact there told me that the City Council has asked that they attend a meeting with 3 representatives for 10 minutes with media presence. The Occupiers are to discuss ways in which they can communicate that the representatives do not speak for the whole group, in keeping with the leaderless nature of the Occupations.
Occupy Wellington today contacted the other Occupations around the country, in the belief that we need more dialogue between each other. The Occupy Wellington contact number is 0226022753. We suggest that the other Occupations list a public phone number as well. Scoop is willing to publish any contact details, press releases etc from the other Occupations around the country. Please email these to firstname.lastname@example.org
All Occupations need donations and support. Please contact them through the aforementioned websites or simply by showing up.