Medical Cannabis Rally outside Parliament

dscf3123About 40 medicinal cannabis campaigners rallied at Parliament on Wednesday in support of a petition being handed in, and for Damien O’Connor’s Members Bill to permit medicinal cannabis being prescribed for the terminally ill and sufferers of significant pain. Yes Damien O’Connor, the sometimes illiberal Labour MP for West Coast. If O’Connor can support this step, surely anyone can! In fact the latest poll on this issue showed that 76% of New Zealanders support a law change to allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by doctors. Only 12% are opposed, and 12% undecided. The Government, however, are out of touch with public opinion. [Read more…]

Demanding better disability stories


Disability Stories 1.jpgby Daniel Simpson Beck

“Rights, not tragedy!”

“Assistance to live, not assistance to die!”

These were some of the chants of around 30 disability rights protesters outside the Embassy’s preview screening of Me Before You on Wednesday night. The rally was one of many around the world calling for a boycott of the Hollywood romance, a film that plays on the tired trope that disabled people lead tragic lives and are burdens on society. Protest organisers Esther Woodbury and Paula Booth call it as it is, “offensive, clichéd bullshit, which has denied disabled people the opportunity to tell their own stories to mainstream audiences”. This repetitive stigmatising of disability by the media is incredibly damaging. It helps to reinforce the view that disability should be avoided at all costs, and the abhorrent idea that disabled people are better off being killed. Internationally, many disabled people are furious at the release of yet another stereotypical, offensive, ableist story. As Robyn Hunt of Arts Access Advocates puts it, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. On Wednesday night in Wellington, some of that anger was expressed. Protesters held placards and a banner with slogans such as:

“Demand Better Disability Stories. #survivethemovie #getlaid #notyourinspirationporn”

“#Spoiler. Hollywood kills Will because he is disabled; Will doesn’t get laid.” [Read more…]

The Cruel Irony of Pride

No Pride in Prisons

Image credit: No Pride in Prisons

By Marc Inzon

I sat down to talk with a couple of No Pride In Prison (NPIP) members as they tried to get a respite from their scrum with the police. One of them tells me “pride has historically been a protest and to deny protest for the rights of queer and trans people where it began in New Zealand is ridiculous.” Behind us, we hear more chants of ‘The police are violent, we won’t be silenced.’ Another round of pushing shoving with the police had begun while the pride parade carried on.  [Read more…]

TPPA – this fight is not over

TPPA0.jpgBy Cory Anderson and Josh O’Sullivan


More than 20,000 demonstrators brought Auckland’s CBD to a standstill on Thursday, protesting the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).  Braving threats of a heavy-handed response from police, activists blockaded the signing venue at the SkyCity casino, shutting down intersections and impeding traffic in the surrounding area. As their numbers swelled through the morning, roaming protests fanned out through the city occupying key access points such as motorway on- and off- ramps, bringing traffic to a standstill and temporarily closing a section of the Harbour Bridge.  Meanwhile, thousands gathered around Aotea Square for the largest demonstration against the TPPA yet, and one of the largest in the last 30 years. People came to express their anger from all walks of life, Nurses, doctors, teachers, students, construction workers, lawyers, librarians and university lecturers were all amongst the crowd that marched down Queen Street, and at the front a Hikoi was led by a large Kapa Haka group. [Read more…]

No TPPA! Grasping Tuwhare’s Elusive Star

TPPA 1.jpgby Hebe Kearney

Normally I’d open here with statistics. I’d give you a scale of numbers, refer back to the biggest estimate, talk, only slightly ironically, about the power in numbers. Power in a few hundred, couple thousand. Today, I’m opening with the power in tens of thousands. 20,000-30,000 people marching through Auckland city; shutting down roads, business, even shutting down the pre-organized plan for the march itself. I’ve been filled with pure excitement, telling comrades enthusiastically that this is historic. The kind of thing people will reminisce to future generations about. It was awesome.


In 1975 Hone Tuwhare (New Zealand’s second Poet Laureate) wrote a poem about the Māori Land March. It’s one of those poems that has embedded itself deep into my consciousness. It has occupied my mind during many protests, yet somehow its stanzas have always seemed somehow disconnected from the usual contained, speech-bookended Queen Street affairs.  [Read more…]

Weapons Conference Warmongers Unwelcome

Protest 0by Joe Chip

At 8am this morning a group of around 150 people began blockading and protesting the annual New Zealand Defence Industry Association conference. The action is set to go on for as long as possible  throughout the day. The action was organised by anti-war group Peace Action Wellington. Many  Wellingtonians were there as were groups from across the left such as union activists, LGBT rights  campaigners, anti-war activists, pro-Palestine activists, and more. Several activists travelled down from across the country to be part of the protest.

[Read more…]

Marching against the TPPA

TPPA AucklandBy Gowan Ditchburn

The TPPA has been hovering around some time now but now we are reaching the climax. The June deadline is coming and the TPPA will either pass or fall. Obama must get this trade agreement through before June or else the credit for helping out our capitalist overlords will fall to the next administration. [Read more…]

Students, Workers and the Class Struggle

auckland university student protestThe history of capitalism is the history of revolt. Throughout the 19th, 20th and now the 21st centuries the capitalist system has been wracked by crises during which the normal functioning of the system is halted, leaving millions of ordinary people with no option other than to rise up. Workers of course, are a wellspring of resistance to the capitalist system and will be central actors in its overthrow. But revolt against the system comes at the same time from innumerous directions. The struggles of students and youth are one such source of revolt, one that has in many times and places made an important contribution the wider struggle against the whole capitalist system.

It’s evident today of course, that students are not innately radical. But radicalism seldom begins all at once. More usually it begins to coalesce around more immediate interests. Hundreds joined protests at Auckland University in 1965 to demand government action on university building programs, bursaries and student residences. Students at Otago began by challenging draconian university regulations that prohibited mixed flatting in 1967. Actions on welfare issues continued to be a theme throughout the high points of student radicalism during the late 60s and 70s, as students campaigned against ‘slumlords’ and defended academic freedom from the incursions of the SIS. [Read more…]

Wellington Solidarity with Hong Kong Protesters

Embassy1About 50 people gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy on Glenmore St in Wellington Wednesday to support the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Wearing black clothes and yellow ribbon pins, the group held signs calling for “Democracy”, “Proper Elections” and to “Stop Violence on HK Students”. Many signs included images of umbrellas as this has become a symbol of the movement in Hong Kong. Police forces in HK having been attacking protesters with tear gas and pepper spray, so umbrellas have been used as a way to offer some protection for the large numbers who will not be deterred. On Glenmore St there were two umbrellas, adorned with messages written on yellow postit notes, to show support from afar. [Read more…]

Women and the Early Years of Japanese Communism

The_1st_Labor_Day_in_JapanShomi Yoon gave this talk as part of Marxism 2014 in Melbourne. Marxism 2015 will take place from April 2 – 5.

“What sort of woman are you? Demonstrating when you should be at home looking after your children?” This was the question Sadayo Nakasone faced by the arresting officer for participating in the first contingent of women to march on the second May Day held in Japan in 1921.

Nakasone, fired back, “What sort of man are you! A proletarian who works for the capitalists! Take a look at yourself!”

Nakasone, along with 20 other socialists, made history on this day as the first contingent of women to mark May Day in Japan. They were all arrested after marching under the banner of Sekirankai or Red Wave – an organisation that was established with the specific aim or participating in May Day but with the wider aim of overthrowing capitalism for genuine women’s liberation.

Women have always been involved in the communist and socialist movements from the earliest of days. The second May Day in 1921 is a continuation of this history but also symptomatic of the wider social and political struggles that were happening domestically and internationally that pushed these women into mobilizing onto the streets. The class was on the move, revolutionary ferment was in the air, and Red Wave women wanted to be part of this historical shift. [Read more…]