Patrice Dougan

Patrice Dougan is a NZME. News Service reporter based in Auckland.

Anti-Israeli protesters chain themselves to NZ Super Fund desks

Juliet Moses stands up to protestors outside the NZ Super Fund office in Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Juliet Moses stands up to protestors outside the NZ Super Fund office in Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

Almost 100 protesters staged a loud picket outside New Zealand Superannuation Fund today as six anti-Israeli protesters chained themselves to the front desk of the company's office.

The pro-Palestine supporters, mostly made up of students from the University of Auckland, were protesting against investments in companies which they said profit from the on-going Israel-Palestine conflict.

Six protesters managed to gain entry to the Super Fund's offices on level 12 of the central Auckland tower block before lunch time today, chaining themselves inside and demanding to speak with chief executive Adrian Orr.

They were supported by a large crowd outside, which drew attention to the protest to passersby and blocked entry into the building, while around half a dozen police officers guarded the door.

A large banner said, 'stop superfunding Israeli apartheid', and protesters shouted chants of "not a nickel, not a dime, no more money for Israeli crime".

The group said it wanted Super Fund to withdraw its investments in companies with links to Israel, such as security agency G4S, United Technologies, which produces Blackhawk helicopters, and aviation company Boeing, which makes F-15A fighter jets and Apache helicopters.

It also opposed the investment in Israel Chemicals, which manufactures controversial white phosphorous, which has been used in recent conflicts, and causes severe burns when it comes into contact with people.

Earlier today, Super Fund said it would not remove Israel Chemicals from its portfolio.

Student Hala Nasr, 23, said she wanted to make sure New Zealanders weren't "complicit" in funding violence.

"We're trying to make a statement that we will not stand complicit with Israeli occupation, we do not want our money to go towards corporations that support the illegal occupation of Palestine," she said.

"Also New Zealanders should know where their money is going, and actually most people don't know."

Billy Hania, from the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, said they were protesting the investment in companies that "profit from occupation".

"We want to make Kiwis aware that their money should not be invested in companies that harm people, and [invested in] weapons and the war machine perpetrated by the Israeli apartheid establishment," he said.

"New Zealanders need to be aware of that, and know that their money should not be used in that manner."

The protest turned heated when the group were challenged by a lone woman, Juliet Moses, who asked why they were describing the situation in Israel as apartheid.

An initial discussion was drowned out as people began chanting over her questions and screaming at her.

She was later taken to one side to have a more civilised discussion on the topic, while the students decided to have a sit-down protest and talk about the history of the on-going conflict.

Talking to media afterwards Ms Moses said she did not believe Israel was an apartheid state, as "over 20 per cent of its citizens are Arab people and they've actually got equal rights".

"I got screamed out, so I couldn't actually get the answers to any questions that I was trying to ask," she said.

Protests like this one were "completely disproportionate", she said.

"Israel is under attack from Hamas, Hamas says it wants to destroy Israel. This is war, it's absolutely tragic that people are getting killed in Gaza, without a doubt, but unfortunately that's what happens in a war."

- APNZ

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