WHANGANUI people joined thousands around the country in protests as trade ministers from 12 countries met in Auckland to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement yesterday.

About 50 people turned out to a picnic in Majestic Square between midday and 2pm to voice their concern about the trade deal. Meanwhile, 40 others from the city car-pooled up to Auckland to join protests at SkyCity and through the Auckland city centre.

Those who stayed back gathered quietly in the square to share food and create a quiet but visible presence in the town. Some held placards with one blackboard reading: "No corporate control of Aotearoa".

Anton Skipworth said it was a chance for people to meet others who were against the TPP.


"I guess for me it's about making a show of it," he said.

"So people realise the majority of the country is vehemently against this.

"I guess this is a showing of solidarity with the people who have gone up to Auckland to protest there."

The TPP has to be ratified by each country's parliament within the next two years and Mr Skipworth was hopeful the protests were not a lost cause.

Kelly Karena had taken the day off work to be there and was worried about increasing corporate influence.

"They're going to tell us what the rules are going to be."

Her friend Sarah Flood said: "It's ridiculous that we can vote on a flag change but we can't vote on something like this."

Quentin Tuwhangai said every small protest around the country contributed to the voice of those against the deal.

The deal has been hailed by the Government as a boon for New Zealand's economy with tariff reductions for exporters and an estimated increase to GDP.