Moepai Temata, resident for 47 years in GI will not be moving out without a fight.
History was made last night in Glen Innes when residents decided to fight the National government’s plans to sell off their state houses. The community organised meeting was held at Grace Church and facilitated by local resident Lisa Gibson. Tariana Turia, Phil Heatley and Mayor of Auckland Len Brown all sent excuses for their non-attendance. Clearly they have better things to do than listen to residents concerns about the ‘Tamaki Development Project” which will involve the eviction of 156 long-term community members. Some of which have been there for 57 years.
Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira, Local Councillor Richard Northey and Labour Party MP Phil Twyford came to hear the community voice their outrage at the plans to displace residents in the name of profit. National MP’s; Alfred Ngaro, Simon O’Connor and Sam Lotu-liga sat in shame listening to the pain and suffering they are causing to the community they are delegated to represent in parliament. Pita Sharples (also in attendance) appeared to be caught in the middle of a civil war in Maoridom between the sell-out capitalist Maori traitors and those with their Mana still intact.
Yvonne Daintie spoke first, challenging the National Party’s claim that we must not look to the past: “The past informs our present and our future. That’s why we have a treaty. We wouldn’t all be here if there wasn’t a serious problem. What you are doing is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it. The Tamaki project was put forward without consulting the people who live there. We have documentation from Stewart Bracy that promises people will not be moved out of their homes. How can we trust you to consult for us when you lie to us? We have leaked documents of who will be evicted. It’s a disgrace. You say you have a community mandate but you do not. Alfred Ngaro met with 14 carefully selected ‘yes men’; there were not delegated by us. Our elderly and disabled are suffering because of you. Our elders are having heart attacks from the stress and our children are frightened they are going to lose their homes. You say you care about the people but you tread on our Mana. You promised us jobs three years and you have not delivered. How can we afford to buy houses when there aren’t any jobs? We refuse to let our children live in cramped high-rise towers. You are not valuing our basic human rights. We are fighters and this is not a done deal. Every document will hold you accountable. We will not be moved.” She concluded to thunderous applause and shouts of solidarity.
Sue Henry a local resident and community organiser spoke next explaining the unfolding situation in depth. Stating that maps were changed without due process and that tenants were lied to when they were promised they would not be forced to leave. She laughed in the face of intimidation tactics being implemented and said that the property developers could “take a hike”. She demanded an apology to the young, sick and elderly in the community with a truly moving speech that captivated the audience and triggered rounds of applause at every statement of defiance.
Phyllis Pomare issued a strong call of action to rise in the fight for their community against asset sales and high-rise ‘slum’ housing for the area. She claimed that the government was ‘experimenting’ in Glen Innes to see if similar policies could be introduced elsewhere. She accused the Minister of Housing Phil Heatley of planning to accommodate 10,000 people in Glen Innes over the next few years using ‘mesh boxes’ or ‘slum housing’. She slammed the actions of Housing New Zealand who told approximately 160 residents to leave their homes in September 2011 and plan to issue those still remaining in May with a 90 day eviction notice. She called it a disgrace that some long-term tenants had been threatened that if they didn’t leave they would not be provided with a house in future and could end up living on the streets. She accurately depicted a slimy picture of the National Government saying that they cared more about money than people and “inflicted undue stress on the most vulnerable within their community”. And that their reckless disregard for families stood to force children from their homes and destroy lives through alienation and inhumane housing. She finished beautifully by saying that she sees the strength, family values, pride and spirit in her neighbourhood everyday and that “Together we will fight.”
Marian Peker stood representing private home-owners who are also affected by the drive to create a housing bubble which will make their mortgages unaffordable in order to clear them out of the area. She accused the National Government of ethnic cleansing and said that “clearly her people were the wrong colour for John Key’s ‘Brighter Future’”.
Many other residents voiced their anger and frustration at the disgraceful behaviour of both the National Government and Housing New Zealand. Some were reduced to tears, others held banners and called for solidarity from other organisations. All roused glorious applause from the audience.
The National MPs appeared near breaking point as they responded by spouting empty rhetoric, party slogans and weak apologies. Beads of sweat dripping from their furrowed brows whilst their feet shuffled nervously towards the exit.
Leader of the Mana Party Hone Harawira spoke last, calling for increased action from the community and stating that they had the Mana Party’s complete support. He advised residents not to sign anything individually, but instead to come together and fight as one. “Don’t allow them to pick you off one by one”. He finished with a powerful message of “WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED”.
It was a night of mixed emotions and powerful speeches. After the dust had settled one fact became overwhelmingly clear. The National Government has one hell of a fight on their hands to break apart and remove this vibrant, strong and increasing organised community from their homes.
-Shane M., SA