Peace Action Manawatu is gearing up for peaceful protest when the New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) holds its forum at the end of October.

Peace Action Manawatu (PAM) says the NZDIA forum is an arms expo and war armaments will be on display.

However, NZDIA chairman Andrew Ford says the organisation and its membership is tired of being on the hard end of the boot.

"There's a huge misunderstanding by the public. NZIDA does not purchase arms and we do not purchase any products for our members."


NZDIA's Ford continued that there is no weapons or arms industry in New Zealand.

The NZDIA Forum Prospectus has been delivered to parties via OIA requests to the Palmerston North City council.

NZDIA chief executive Jennie Vickers says the prospectus is the basis on which industry makes a decision as to whether it will exhibit or sponsor.

Vickers continued the prospectus explains the theme for the forum and the types of discussions needed at the forum between industry and government departments, to increase value for government spend and better outcomes for New Zealanders.

Last week PAM spokesman Dr Fred Hirst said it was convenient NZDIA had not divulged the names of its current sponsorsbefore the event.

"No one can confirm with certainty they are the arms dealers/manufacturers without access to the trade stands.

"It is also interesting that they are having four platinum sponsors this year for the first time - effectively four companies that can claim the title to being principal sponsors.

"This is likely why the mayor said to Peter Wheeler at PNCC that Compass was the principal sponsor, because they presumably will be one of the four. You can bet your bottom dollar that Lockheed will still be there.


"We know Lockheed Martin are represented on the NZDIA board of directors and going for re-election on October 31. Voting results will be announced at their forum dinner."

Ford said no one was coming to the NZDIA annual forum in Palmerston North with a shopping cart looking to buy weapons systems.

"In fact that sort of thing and any wheeling in dealing in arms is strictly prohibited within New Zealand by law." Mayor Grant Smith also responded to PAM's allegations that the forum is an arms expo and should not be using a council building for its annual forum.

"The NZDIA has been treated as no different from other events.

"There are currently three events a year that involves weapons, ammunition or an activity that some personal opinions may find objectionable.

"These events have never had any negativity and have been hosted at our venues for many years. It could be argued that NZDIA has been singled out which is not the purpose of policy."

Manager venues Palmerston North John Lynch sent a letter to Waldegrave St residents that access to the Central Energy Trust Arena will be restricted and an approved traffic management plan will be in place surrounding the facilities. On confirmation, residents will have unrestricted access to their properties.

PAM says the plans are "illegal, a violation of rights and a restriction of freedom of speech".

"This weapons trade fair has been driven out of Wellington and Auckland because of wide opposition to war profiteering. This is a desperate attempt to shut down legitimate dissent and to court the weapons industry.

"Their right to privately profit from weapons sales apparently trumps our democratic rights to freedom of speech, movement and peaceful assembly," Hirst said.

Ford says they respect everyone's right to protest.

"Freedom of speech also means we can go about our business. Frankly, in the last few years the protesting has become more hardcore and in your face. It is quite frightening.

"Last year I had a lady stand right in my face yelling at the top of her voice that I was killing her babies. That is so far from the truth," said Ford.

Ford is an ex-serviceman who has done duty as a peacekeeper in Bosnia.

"I know what war and conflict look like. That is not what our members are promoting."

Both Ford and Vickers say the New Zealand Defence Force is in need of quite a bit to do its job in the world community.

They continued that there are constraints on what the Government can say about its defence purchasing which is to do with international agreements and trade treaties.

"The law forbids them from stating they want to buy New Zealand-made where possible, so we need to find a way to get New Zealand business access to defence personnel and government officials who are in charge of making these decisions," Vickers said.

"We want to lift their profiles and generate relationships at the forum.

"If the forum didn't happen, New Zealand would still have to buy its supplies for defence and security. The forum makes it possible for local companies to be part of this, rather than have all the money go overseas.

"The forum is way to create networking within New Zealand to see how more of our own defence dollars can be spent locally.

"New Zealand does a lot of relief work as well as peacekeeping around the world and local companies would like a slice of the money the country spends on this. Our members are genuinely interested in New Zealand defence."

The NZDIA will plant a tree for each delegate at Linton Army Camp, will hand out reusable conference bags, not use paper cups and will bring interesting people to Palmerston North who wouldn't come here otherwise. This includes a German woman involved in astronaut training for the European space programme.

She will spend some time at local schools talking to students about space programmes and being an astronaut.

"The protesters' declared intentions make a large police presence necessary at the venue. Inside the stadium we take care of security ourselves but outside on the street is a different matter.

"Police involvement will cost us a lot of money and that could be much better spent on local programmes, such as tree planting.

"We also work with the RSA to help veterans back into work when they return home from active duty. Security of the forum venue is a major part of our budget," Ford said.

"All our members do other things in business and anything to do with defence or security is a small component of their work. One reason we are back in Palmerston North, where our forum started 20 years ago, is because this is a major defence force hub with many small and medium suppliers located in the area. This year's venue makes it easier for these companies to attend the forum.

"We cannot defend ourselves on our own if someone attacks us and if we do our duty in the world others will come and help us when we need it," said Ford.

"One example is the recent Kaikoura earthquake. Navy vessels from the USA (2), Canada, Australia and Japan came to our aid immediately.

"They can buy their supplies at home and ship them here, or we can create a supply chain here and provide what they need as well as jobs for our people."

The annual forum will attract New Zealand government officials, defence force personnel as well as local suppliers and international partners.

Among other things, the forum will be discussing New Zealand's own national security policy and outcomes as well as our global security challenges.

They will talk about what national security means for New Zealand, about ocean patrol and security in and around Antarctica.