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High Noon For Asset Sales Opposition

High Noon For Asset Sales Opposition

Photos and story by George McLellan

WELLINGTON, May 4: A large group of demonstrators filled the Capital's main streets today, to join forces with the Hikoi To Stop Asset sales that began on Tuesday April 26 at Cape Reinga. The crowd of demonstrators and the Hikoi participants met outside Te Papa at mid-day and marched to Parliament via Lambton Quay. At Parliament the demonstrators were addressed by a number of MPs including Green Party Co-leader Russell Norman, NZ First leader Winston Peters, MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson (Labour), and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira.


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The demonstrators marched through the Wellington CBD chanting, playing music, and demanding that the Government revise its decision to sell key state-owned assets. Estimates on numbers vary, though it is believed that the crowd built to around 5,000 people at its climax.

Opposition to asset sales was the primary focus of the demonstration, though deep sea drilling, fracking, the Transpacific Partnership and John Banks were also popular targets for demonstrators.

As the demonstrators gathered on the lawns of Parliament there was a chant calling on John Key to face the crowd. He declined the invitation.

Green Party co-Leader Russel Norman was the first MP to address the crowd. He spoke about how widespread the opposition to asset sales is, and emphasised that there is no way that the Government can rightfully go ahead with them. Norman said that the Government is reliant on a very slight majority for asset sales to go ahead.


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MP for Wellington Central, Grant Robertson (Labour) addressed the crowd after Norman. He spoke about Labour's willingness to work with other political parties to prevent the asset sales. After his relatively brief contribution, Robertson was quickly invited back for a second turn by Norman, who asked him to address the crowd about fracking and deep sea drilling.


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Winston Peters received massive applause from the crowd when he took the megaphone. After speaking for around five minutes about asset sales, he was drowned out by cheering when he labelled John Banks as the only hurdle to overcome. Peters told the crowd that the Prime Minister will fail in his ambitions to sell state assets.


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After Peters had spoken he called on Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, who was also well received by the crowd. Harawira re-emphasised that the issue is about what the constituents want, and not what 'Banks and his mates want'. Harawira then led the crowd in a chant saying that New Zealand cannot be sold, and that John Key should go to hell.


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Though feelings against the asset sales are clearly running high, the overall mood of the demonstration was peaceful; some have attributed this to the presence of Maori Wardens, and to excellent crowd management.


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Two protestors scaled the famous statue of former PM Dick Seddon, which stands directly in front of Parliament. They put in his arms the Tino Rangatiratanga flag and the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand.


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ENDS

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