Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Trade Unionists for Tino Rangatiratanga- on the Hikoi
Report by Cameron Walker
On May 25th at least 10,000 people took to the streets of Auckland to protest against the National-ACT Party plan to incorporate all of Auckland’s local authorities into one ‘Super City’, without any Maori seats. The date of the march marked 31 years to the day that police violently evicted Ngati Whatua from the occupation from their Iwi’s land at Bastion Point in 1978. The crowd at the hikoi included a wide range of people, Maori, Pakeha, Asians and members of Auckland’s very large Pasifika community. Many came to oppose the Crown refusing to include Maori seats in the proposed Super City, others came because they are angry that a Super City structure will leave Auckland’s water services, port and other public assets open to privatisation.
Socialist Aotearoa was there because we are concerned about both of these issues and the destruction of the ability of local communities in Auckland to democratically decide their future. We marched with our banner declaring ‘Trade Unionists for Tino Rangatiratanga’ and carrying red flags. Some funny incidents happened while we were marching. Some hikoi participants handed Socialist Aotearoa leaflets asked if our group had something to do with Black Power because both of our organisations use the raised fist logo. Labour MPs Shane Jones and Parekura Horomia walked past our contingent, looked at our banner and then pulled the thumbs up and said “good stuff”. The socialists holding the banner were too stunned to say anything!
At the end of a very spirited march up Queen Street there were speeches by Joe Hawke, a well known Ngati Whatua man who led the occupation of Bastion point in the 1970s, Pita Sharples and Hone Harawira from the Maori Party, Willie Jackson, John Tamihere, Len Brown (mayor of Manukau), Andrew Williams (mayor of North Shore), Bob Harvey (mayor of Waitakere) and a local Pasifika church minister. Smashproof and Herbs then gave a very spirited performance. King Kapisi gave a shout out to the working class and then gave an incredible performance that had the whole crowd dancing, including older folk. The rally and concert finished off with a performance by Sons of Zion and the MC, asking for a young person from Ngati Whatua in the crowd to give a little speech to finish the day’s events.
The hikoi was an inspiring event to be part of and left all of us present even more enthused to resist National and ACT’s rich man’s Super City.