Mana Hui-a-Tau 2015: Guest speakers

Tim_Avatar Tim Selwyn Mana News editor


Kia ora, Mana members and supporters.

Joe and Hone asked me to blog for the Mana News, and I happily accepted.

I’m with the Opotiki branch, but I thought I’d start by writing about last weekend’s AGM in Auckland. Not the actual AGM, but the guest speakers we had on Saturday. Here were my highlights – with some added personal observations.

Jane Kelsey cut through the TPPA like a shredding machine through an actual TPPA confidential document. With her small frame, black-rimmed glasses and Wellingtonian uniform she looks like a librarian or maybe curator, possibly accountant; but actually she is like an assassin or ninja the way she approaches the issues. Hageresque but far more animated. She is very well informed for things which are supposed to be secret, then again her knowledge and background on this is extensively extensive. The provisions in the texts for external courts to rule on domestic measures that affect corporate profits was alarming. That sounds to me like the extra-territorial rights the imperial nations extracted from the Asian nations which were made subject to international arbitration – which is a long way of saying colonialism.

Marty Rogers from TPK (and here I was thinking they didn’t have any relevance at all) addressed the homeless situation in Auckland with a deep analysis and report. It was disturbing rather than hopeful however. There are a few hundred people sleeping rough in the CBD and nothing in the report indicates that will change as there is no remedy for the circumstances offered or on the horizon. More information than anything else, the report is not an action plan – at least we are aware.

Joe Carolan’s rasping accent, surging intermittently like a chainsaw, climaxed into a Belfast rallying cry. Another high point. It was more than rousing rhetoric – he underscored the dynamism of the Unite union and why their end zero hours campaign was a success. It took an epic drama that played out over many years to come to a head and they got results. Thanks in no small part to the late Campbell Live. How we all lamented his shameful ousting.

Roger Fowler left facebook for a few minutes (well, that’s the impression when I view my fb timeline – he’s constant) to brief us on running the Israeli’s Gaza blockade. It remains a dramatic and arduous effort. Apart from the IDF executing a large number of the crew after having hijacked their ship (the one where the UN got Geoffrey Palmer to say it was all legal) it seems to have been working well – the modest amounts of medical supplies they are able to get through. We hoped he could continue his latest Kia Ora Gaza efforts without fatal difficulty. And then we passed a heavily critical anti-Israel condemnation motion that could not have been worded strongly enough.

Dr Kipa Morgan on sustainable and environmentally sensitive housing and the feedback from the earthship and vakawhenua home construction was inspiring. Dirt is in, concrete is out, unless mixed with dirt. Wood is in, very in, and especially with local soils. Muka? – don’t get me started on fibre. Network solutions are yesterday’s monopolistic extortionist crony capitalism – independent and off-the-grid is apopo. Local government being the crux at the point of property developers, business and utility provision and rating are therefore hostile to this movement. There were many stories of sustainable options being sabotaged by local bodies keen to protect the commercial interests they represent.

Keith Locke and Edwina Hughes on the price of militarism was enlightening and the discussion useful. NZ Defence spending is to maintain an expeditionary posture which is at the call of the Americans rather than to maintain a force for NZ’s immediate geographic security. That was the essential problem. My question to Keith was about the NZ Police’s illegal use of census returns to hunt down Tainui conscriptees in WW1, but he never answered it. Not really. What I wanted him to say was ‘don’t fill out your census forms because they are not anonymous and the government accesses your private information against the law all the time so don’t give them any personal information’. He didn’t address it really. Bit disappointed, I had so wanted more of a privacy rant. Felt like slightly ruffling his cardy lapels I was so miffed. That’s about as violent as anyone can get around Keith his aura is so passive.

But for me Kingi Taurua’s raw reflections on his soldiering in SE Asia was a highlight – just riveting. He described how he’d been hired by the NZ government in the 1960s to kill communists in Malaya and Vietnam. America poisoned them, everyone. They were lied to by their government and they suffer to this day.

Anyone who couldn’t attend the Hui a Tau would have missed this amazing array of speakers and their presentations. It was well worth attending for them alone. Well done Te Tai Tokerau for turning it on.