Part 3 here
Around 2002/03, Maori Zapatista supporters from Aotearoa Educators and Wellington anarchists from the Committee to Establish Civilisation, formed the New Zealand branch of People’s Global Action (PGA).
While PGA apparently didn’t last long, the alliances it cemented eventually led to the arrest, in October 2007, of 17 people for allegedly attending “quasi-military” training camps in the Ureweras.
The “Urewera 17” were an alliance of Maori radicals and anarchist activists, all inspired by the indigenous/anarchist revolutionaries of Latin America-particularly the Mexican Zapatista rebels.
Their supporters come from the same circles, but also extend into the Green Party and to New Zealand’s Trotskyist and Maoist organisations.
In September 2003, an alt-WTO conference was held in Wellington.
It was organised by the Alliance Party, but participants included anarchists, Greens, Maoists, Trotskyists and pro-Zapatista Maori radicals.
A key organiser was Alliance Party official and anarchist John Anderson.
This is an edited version of his account of proceedingsfrom Indymedia 9.9.03
alt-WTO: The Great Trade Debate
The “Great Trade Debate” kicked off with comrades Don Franks and Jill Brasell playing “Red Horse Flying”; a song about Mobil’s blatant abuses in Aceh and of the Acehnese people.
The debate was chaired by Prue Hyman, who facilitated in the spirit of the left and progressive thought with skill, creativity, and respect…
The speakers were Rod Donald (Green Party), Robert Reid (Alliance), Suse Reynolds (Trade Liberalisation Network), and Alastair MacFarlane (Trade Liberalisation Network).
I can also now say, after seeing the calm, collected and ardent speakers holding the opposing view, that Rod and Robert, and many others in the audience and community, could win a debate with the proponents of “free trade” any time and anywhere.
alt-WTO: WTO and Sovereignty
After a brief break Simon and others began redefining the space that was being used, moving the chairs around to create a more inclusive space and setting up the area for the skit Helen Te Hira, Teanau Tuiono, and Kaye-Maree Dunn had arranged before the section they had prepared on “WTO and Sovereignty”.
The session was run by members of the Tino Rangatiratanga movement, and Aotearoa Educators began with Simon helping them start the skit.
As I recall, Simon started by musing and singing Tim Finn’s “Song of Parihaka” and thinking how Maori activists might talk to each other, then exited stage right.
Teanau, Kaye, and Helen then strolled on and settled down to korero with each other about sovereignty, the left and progressive movements, the WTO, the foreshore, and more.
alt-WTO: Globalisation, what next?
Sam Buchanan from Committee for the Establishment of Civilisation opened up his sobering salvo on the anti-globalisation movement after a short break….He followed through with the statement, and I hope I don’t misquote, “If you don’t believe we can win, then fuck off now!” He asserted that while left has massive differences, we need to fully express our future ? because the future we want is “so fucking amazing”. Sam also drew on decades of experience as an anarchist, and had much to say about Seattle and the recent anti-war marches.
Nick Henry then moved on to discuss the ideas of People’s Global Action, the use of words, and much more. An exciting development that Nick kicked off was to publicly initiate the debate on forming a new workers network.
I want to thank all the people who helped organise, contribute, and participate in alt-WTO: another world is possible. I would like to specifically mention the seemingly indefatigable Valerie Morse, Robert Reid, Dougal McNeil, and my loving
partner Ankh Spice. I would like to also particularly thank those who came from the Tino Rangatiratanga movement.
Here we see strands of the movement that begat the “Urewera 17” coming together.
Teanau Tuiono, Kay Maree Dunn and Helen Te Hira represent the Tino Rangatiratanga/Peoples Global Action strand. The “Simon” who helped them, was very likely “Urewera 17” arrestee Rongomai/Simon Bailey.
Robert Reid, Nick Henry and Helen Te Hira also represent the Maoist strand-Robert Reid is ex Workers Communist League, while Henry and Te Hira are both ex Radical Society and both involved in People’s Global Action.
John Anderson, Sam Buchanan, Val Morse and Ankh Spice represent the anarchist/pro Zapatista strand which later contributed several members of the “Urewera 17“.
The Committee for the Establishment of Civilisation dissolved not long after this conference with most of its activists moving into the already formed Wildcat Anarchist Collective.
Wildcat has long been based at 128 Abel Smith Street Wellington, which was raided by police on October 15th.
Of the “Urewera 17” arrestees, Emily Bailey, Rongomai/Simon Bailey, Tim/Ira Bailey, Val Morse and Marama Mayrick either had lived at, or were associated with that address-as is Sam Buchanan.
Another former CEC activist, now associated with Wildcat is also believed to have been linked to the Urewera camps.
Auckland “Urewera 17” arrestee, Omar Hamed is also an anarchist, with close ties to several inhabitants of 128 Abel Smith Street.
According to the New York based pro Zapatista blog Zapagringo;
A month ago, under New Zealand’s 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act, over 300 police raided houses across the country seeking up to 60 activists in Aotearoa’s Tino Rangatiratanga, peace and environmental movements. Among the 17 people arrested in the sweeps were some of these same founding PGA members, along with current Zapatista solidarity activists.
Marama Mayrick and Emily Bailey have both visited the Zapatista’s stronghold in Oventic Mexico.
I suspect that Tim/Ira Bailey and Val Morse have also travelled to Mexico in recent times.
It is highly likely that several of the anarchists arrested on October 15th were active in the Committee for the Establishment of Civilisation and/or the local branch of People’s Global Action.
Part 5 here