Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Protesters: We came, we disrupted, we were heard

Protesters at the entrance of the SkyCity Convention Centre. Photo / Greg Bowker
Protesters at the entrance of the SkyCity Convention Centre. Photo / Greg Bowker

Protesters who stormed Auckland's CBD for five hours and shut down on-ramps to the motorway believe they achieved their goal of total disruption and had their voices heard.

One of the activist groups estimated about 15,000 people joined the multi-faceted action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, while police put the number at more than 5000. Organisers said the turnout exceeded expectations given it was a weekday and it was during a strike by bus drivers.

Activist and former Green MP Sue Bradford was among the Real Choice group that blockaded several access points to State Highway 1. Social media, the mainstream media and email networks were all to thank for the turnout, as well as the different protest options of the march down Queen St, rallying at Sky City and blocking motorway exits, she said.

"It showed the strength of feeling people have across Maori, Pakeha, young and old, students, workers and beneficiaries all coming out.

"It was such provocation that John Key invited those ministers to sign the TPP here in Auckland ... also the day before everything starts at Waitangi with all the issues surrounding the treaty and the agreement."

Ms Bradford said their purpose was to "totally disrupt" central Auckland and believed they achieved that.


"We learned long ago that having people do many different actions is one of the best ways of disrupting a major event.

"To the best of my knowledge, we had a good fair crack at it over the five hours."

It's Our Future spokesman and organiser of the march down Queen St, Barry Coates, said he believed they achieved their goal of sending a message that there was a very large number of New Zealanders who didn't want the agreement. It also showed the diversity of the people who opposed the TPP and who were prepared to "do something about it".

"John Key likes to say that people obviously don't understand the agreement but after today the problem for him is that people have shown they do understand it and they don't want it."

He said the signing was largely symbolic and called it a photo opportunity. "There are still plenty of opportunities for people to have their voices heard," he said.

Protesters during their anti-TPP rally at the Wellington Cenotaph. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Protesters during their anti-TPP rally at the Wellington Cenotaph. Photo / Mark Mitchell


New Zealand marches
• September 2001: 10,000 march in Auckland against genetic engineering, resulting in a moratorium.
• March 2003: 5000 protest against the Iraq War.
• October 2003: 9000 march against end of GE moratorium, ending it.
• March 2005: 10,000 oppose civil unions, which remain legal.
• November 2007: 2000 protest against the Electoral Finance Act, which is repealed after the election.
• May 2009: 7000 fail in a call for Maori seats on Super City council.
• November 2009: 4000 call for repeal of anti-smacking legislation, but to no avail.
• May 2010: Up to 40,000 march to oppose mining on conservation land.
• August 2015: 10,000 TPP protesters gather in Auckland; 5000 in Wellington; 4000 in Christchurch and 2000 in both Dunedin and Hamilton.
• February 4, 2016: More than 5000 gather in Auckland to protest against the signing of the TPP.

- NZ Herald

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