Northlanders help to clog city at TPP demo

By NZME, Mikaela Collins

Reuben Taipari and other Northlanders travelled to Auckland yesterday to take part in protests over the signing of the TPP agreement. Photo / Dean Purcell
Reuben Taipari and other Northlanders travelled to Auckland yesterday to take part in protests over the signing of the TPP agreement. Photo / Dean Purcell

A group of Northlanders were among the thousands of people who blocked the streets of Auckland protesting the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

While least 40 Northlanders followed the Hikoi ki Waitangi, a coach-load from Whangarei joined thousands of anti-TPP protesters in Auckland to block streets and create TPP-free zones, as the international trade-agreement was signed about midday inside the Sky City Convention centre.

The Government says the TPP will bring many benefits to the economy, but it has been met with widespread protest.

Reuben Taipari, organiser of the Hikoi ki Waitangi, was on Queen St about 8.30am and said although the protest was not due to begin until noon, there were a "few hundred" people who had already gathered at the time.

Mr Taipari said the group of Northlanders travelled to Auckland after attending a rally in Whangarei on Wednesday. He said the police presence was "very big" and blockades were implemented.

By 10.20am thousands of protesters had gathered, including groups who were outside the SkyCity Convention centre.

After the hikoi he said it had been a powerful event, with people from all walks of life protesting.

"It was a very hard hikoi to control, Not because people wanted a scrap, but just the level of anger from everybody at this Government ignoring our democracy and ignoring our rights," he said.

"There's been no consultation or participation from the people over this TPP. Everybody here had different reasons to be angry - Maori over the taking away of their rights, workers upset over their rights being eroded, the young and old, everybody is affected."

Whangarei man Buck Cullen and his three children joined the Hikoi ki Waitangi from Cape Reinga to Auckland. Mr Cullen said the TPP boiled down to protecting New Zealand's natural resources "and you and me having healthy food and water on our tables".

"The signing can go ahead but at the end of the day it is power to the people."

Joey Rapana, from the Bay of Islands, said he did not think the TPP would be very good for New Zealand culturally as he believed it would take away Maori rights.

"What is the future for Ngapuhi with this signing? It's not a very fair thing."

He said he knew of people who had come from several parts of the country, including Dunedin, Wellington and Whanganui, to take part in the protest.

The group are expected to arrive at Waitangi this morning when politicians make their way on to Te Tii Marae.

- Northern Advocate

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