Mike Treen is a veteran activist. He protested New Zealand's involvement in the Vietnam War and was on the front lines opposing the '81 Springbok Tour.
He has, as they say, credentials. Definitely street cred amongst the activist community in this country.
His booming voice has been heard leading chants on many protests, occupations and picket lines. Raising the question, which came first, the loud voice (even in conversation) or the activist who fashioned the voice to suit? Either way, it's been an effective weapon in numerous struggles.
He's currently national director of Unite Union, but the reason he was in Whangārei last weekend was to speak about his experiences on a boat trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.
He was asked by Kia Ora Gaza, a solidarity group founded in 2010, to be a New Zealand representative on the latest Freedom Flotilla.
This wasn't a holiday. Weeks in cramped quarters on a small Norwegian fishing boat on the Mediterranean Sea ended with a violent confrontation with the Israeli navy off the coast of Gaza.
When their boat was boarded by masked gun-wielding Israeli soldiers, Mike received blows with blunt weapons and was tasered multiple times, finally to the head, rendering him semi-conscious on the ship's deck.
After being further roughly treated and "processed", he was bundled on a plane to Hong Kong, minus all his belongings. He subsequently found out he had cracked ribs and a broken bone in his foot.
Mike's experiences, scary as they were, can't compare to what's inflicted on the people of Gaza year after year.
Earlier in his talk, Mike set the scene for those of us at the meeting by describing the harsh realities of Israel's blockade of Gaza, enforced since 2007. Mike prefers to call it a siege.
Israel controls all borders. No one can come or go freely. Water into Gaza is restricted. Electricity is subject to rolling blackouts of up to 20 hours a day.
The economy is in a state of near collapse, with unemployment at 50 per cent.
Gaza has been turned into an open-air prison for its two million inhabitants. Though, as Mike dryly pointed out, "They have less rights than a prisoner, who isn't at least shot at."
From the end of March this year, 172 people have been killed by Israeli snipers firing from border posts. Another 15,000, many of them children, have been hospitalised.
Hearing these stories can be depressing. How can anything ever change, was a question I asked, hopeful for a positive answer.
Mike took a long-term perspective. In his years as an activist he's seen big shifts in New Zealanders' understanding of the situation: "It's no longer 'plucky Israel' against the Arabs."
The same goes internationally, with the term apartheid beginning to stick when it comes to describing the Israeli state.
The solidarity movement around the world, often led by Palestinians exiled from their country, is making a difference. Calls for a boycott of trade with Israel is gaining momentum.
Even in Israel itself, 15 per cent now support a one-state solution: full democratic rights for Palestinians within the boundaries of the old Palestine, now Israel.
Though Mike ruefully adds, "Another 15 per cent want to wage war on the Palestinian people and drive them into the sea."
A major stumbling block remains the United States, which gives hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Israel as part of its geopolitical strategy for the oil-rich Middle East.
The powerful Israeli military and the standard of living enjoyed by many Israelis could not be maintained without this money.
But in the United States, too, things are changing, Mike says.
"Younger candidates are coming through in both the Democrats and the Republicans who are openly critical of Israel."
I came away from the meeting believing there was cause for hope, even after seven decades.
Amazingly, committed people in New Zealand, thousands of kilometres away at the bottom of the world, are playing their small part in demanding justice for the Palestinian people.
Mike's booming voice is just one of that growing chorus.