State housing activists in Glen Innes are calling for support from the Aotearoa is Not for Sale coalition. The Tamaki Housing Action Group has been defending their community from privatisation since late last year. Our National led government wishes to make a large section of state owned land in Glen Innes available for private development. This is the front line of asset sales in Auckland at the moment.
Phil Twyford from the Labour Party has been vocal in his criticism, saying:
“National need to go back to the drawing board. This development project breaks every rule of urban planning. It’s a disaster.”
Housing New Zealand has already scared off many long term community members, many of them elderly, with threats of homelessness if they didn't comply. Around 40 state homes are currently empty and contractors protected by large police squads have already begun the process of removing houses from the area.
The other night police brutalised and arrested protestors who stood staunch in front of a house removal truck, including well known social activist John Minto. Local resident Yvonne Dainty who recently appeared on “Think Tank” finished the night in hospital after suffering multiple seizures during the police assault.
More recently there was a battle between protesters on police on Lyndhurst Street. More than 50 police were called in to forcibly remove the group that had assembled in front of the removal truck. Many were left with cuts, bruises and torn clothes after an evening of being pushed, shoved, punched, strangled, kneed and thrown to the ground by police. However it took the police 2 hours to move the house 50 metres down the road.
More than 50 police were called in to forcibly remove the group that had assembled in front of the truck.
Jimmy O'Dea was hospitalised by officers who threw him backwards onto the curb. This officer rolls his eyes as the community tries to call an ambulance.
Four people were arrested including John Minto, Omar Hamed, Malcolm France and a local man. John Minto accused the police of arresting who they perceived to be leading the demonstration. Clearly the police are unable to understand the concept of people thinking for themselves. They are yet to release that any attack on our movement only increases our numbers, our resolve and our experience.
John Minto accused the police of arresting who they perceived to be leading the demonstration.
This was highlighted when MPs Hone Harawira and Phil Twyford joined over 100 people to protest against police brutality outside Glen Innes police station the day after police had assaulted community activists. The anger at the blatant injustice was tangible as the group marched and chanted up the street.
Protester Marion Peta said the clashes had galvanised them, adding it was now "more serious". "I felt our group grew last night because of that," she said. "The march from the police station up to Torrington was amazing. There were flags and people everywhere."
We have since been able to physically stop the removal of houses on three occasions now using only our bodies, our voices and our cameras. The Battle at Lyndhurst shows we are beginning to understand the need for direct action in this situation. The vast opposition to these developments has been exposed and now is the time for us to find the most effective tactics in this struggle.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the housing crisis was ''a ticking time bomb''.
"We urgently need to increase the supply of housing to cover the 70,000 house deficit we have in New Zealand. At this pace it will take decades. Families were struggling with high-cost, low-quality, overcrowded housing while some families didn't even have housing," she said. ''There are still many thousands of families out there in need."
Housing Minister Phil Heatley recently announced $25.3 million of the social housing unit growth fund had been allocated for 16 new projects in the Auckland region. Labour's housing spokeswoman Annette King said Heatley's announcement ignored the fact non-government organisations had put $170 million into social housing. ''To say that $25.3 million is going to make a lasting contribution is laughable.''
The Aotearoa is Not For Sale coalition is a very exciting opportunity to create a united front in opposition to asset sales. Everyone can and should get involved. There's still a lot of work to be done if we want to be successful with our campaign to Keep our Assets. Whether your skills are in media design, music, journalism, engineering or rugby, whether you're an eco-warrior or a trade unionist, a worker or a student, everyone makes a valuable contribution.
If we can learn to work together on a common cause I believe there isn't a force in this country that can stop us. After all there's nothing that beats the winter blues better than creating a wave of political change that sweeps across the country.