Auckland Mayday March Report
Approximately 1000 people marched on the streets of Auckland this evening as part of the global May Day celebrations.
The crowd assembled at Queen Elizabeth Square in the city centre at 5.30pm. The marchers came from diverse groups; with trade unions, local pressure groups, Maori activists, and political organisations of all colours & shades represented.
The march worked its way up Queen Street, Auckland's main shopping thoroughfare. The marchers were protesting for a variety of causes, both local and international. Solidarity was expressed with the current plight of the Palestinians; and anti-war/anti-imperialist slogans and banners were prominent. Joining in were teachers from the Post-Primary Teachers Union, who are currently on strike. They called on the state government to act immediately to halt the decline in quality of secondary education in New Zealand/Aotearoa, demanding pay increases and long-term investment in schools.
The march ended at the rally point of Aotea Square, next to the Auckland Town Hall. Speakers from the Labour Party, the Alliance, & the Green Party expressed solidarity with the striking teachers, and with workers all around the world fighting for equal rights and a better place to live. The Green Party speaker brought up the issue of the NZ Government's involvement with the US Administration's "War on Terrorism" and called for the removal of NZ troops from Afghanistan.
The speakers also included a Palestinian woman who gave a vivid account of the shameful treatment that Palestinian workers experience every day in both the occupied territories and across the border in Israel. Constant harassment from Israeli soldiers and exploitation in the workplace were a daily occurance for the ordinary Palestinian people. She called on Israel to end its military occupation immediately.
A representative from the Council Housing Action Group, which is affiliated to 'Wake Up Auckland!', talked of how Mayor John Banks' policies are proving disastrous to the infrastructure and well-being of Auckland city. Auckland City Council has decided to sell off all of its council housing within a specific time frame, including housing dedicated to pensioners. Wake Up Auckland is a local activist group opposed to the policies of the ACC, which include new motorway extensions and privitisation of public utilities.
Maori activists talked of their people's struggle with land issues and how that exploitation still continued today. Illegal eviction notices were given to their people over 150 years ago, yet now when they rightfully tried to take back their land, they were threatened with fines or jail sentences. They felt that the only way they could achieve anything was through direct action, and this was the course they were going to take in the coming weeks.
A few other people spoke briefly and the rally wound up around 6.45pm.
Kevin (Ireland IMC)