Activists have rallied to oppose the return of weapons conference to Palmerston North while city officials debate what sort of events will be permitted at council venues.

Peace Action Manawatū staged a protest on Monday while a closed workshop was being held to consider development of a Palmerston North City Council venues policy.

Protest leaders said they did not want arms dealers to meet in the city again this year and the venues policy should reflect the city's values as a City of Peace.

Spokesman Fred Hirst said Peace Action Manawatū was concerned the council would accept a repeat booking by the New Zealand Defence Industry Association's Weapons Expo to be held October 29-31 at the Central Energy Trust Arena.

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"Our concern relates to the acceptance of the repeat booking and Peace Action Manawatū wants the venues policy to be worded to ensure that such an event will never be held in our city again."

"There is no social license for Palmerston North to host this event, which is not ethical, moral or in keeping with the city's values.

"Our city welcomes and takes seriously its duty of care towards the many refugees to settle in our region _ there are now over 65 million 'forcibly displaced people' globally _ many of whom have experienced hostile and traumatic events.

"Yet we are contributing to the global problem by permitting a forum for war and conflict profiteers, the outcome of which is accelerating severe climate change events, human misery and environmental destruction."

Peace Action Manawatū the venue policy included hireage and allowable uses of Palmerston North City Council venues, ensuring it was consistent with its investment policy and other broadly accepted ethical standards such as the Human Rights Act and NZ Bill of Rights Act.

"No briefing information has been shared with the public, nor have submissions been sought.

It is expected the public would be given an opportunity to submit after a draft policy was prepared and before being formally adopted," Hirst said.

Hirst said because there was no VP it meant that organisations and entities such as no tobacco, fossil fuels or unconventional weapons which fall under an ethical investment policy not permitted by council, could hire council venues.

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He said the NZDIA Weapons Expo is a weapons and arms industry event which gives the appearance of a defence force gathering.

"They are trying to sell the latest and greatest of weapons...this is the proliferation of weapons.

"PAM finds the profiting of war abhorrent."

Hirst said the NZDIA had not entered into dialogue with PAM last year, but instead were sequestered into hotels and transported to the venue in Palmerston North.

He said Auckland and Wellington were both peace cities and did not permit the Weapons Expo to be held in their cities.

"We are surrounded by the army at Linton and Ōhakea air base, but it is the arms dealers we are against coming to our city."

Hirst said armaments were offensive to the environment as well as people.

"The defence forces globally are high users of fossil fuels.

"The main thing is that wherever conflict is, it leaves land deforested and the land and air contaminated with toxins, waterways poisoned and very often if it is in an oil-based country the oil fields are set on fire which causes huge pollution."

Although NZ Defence Force staff attended as delegates and speakers, the expo was an industry-sponsored meeting of about 500 of global armaments manufacturers and dealers.

Hirst said previously the council had declined events which fell under the category of "pornography or erotica".

The Palmerston North City Council's investment policy was adopted on December 21 2017. It stated: "The council seeks to invest in an ethical manner... in entities that engage in activities that demonstrate a positive approach to the environment, society and governance.

"The council will not invest where there are significant legal or ethical concerns, and will specifically exclude investment in manufacturing or development of controversial weapons, production of fossil fuels, manufacturing of tobacco or generating revenue from the operation of casino gambling."

The Manawatū Guardian has asked the Palmerston North City Council whether it would be allowing the New Zealand Defence Industry Assoociation to hire the Central Energy Trust Arena this year.