Anarchists from around Aotearoa came together for the first national Anarchist Conference since Christchurch 2001. The conference, held near Wanganui, ran from 4-7 December and included workshops on collectives and consensus decision making, surviving activism, revolutionary relationships, education and de-schooling, and living outside capitalism.
Organisers said "The Anarchist Tea Party is primarily an event for anarchists to meet, share knowledge and skills and leave with the inspiration and motivation to make anarchism a central [part] of their lives. "
Report of Tea Partyby Torrance 10:02am Wed Dec 10 '03
The conference was hosted at Marama-iti, an incredible intentional community currently in the beginning stages, adjacent to the Whanganui River. The place is being created mainly thanks to the effort put in by Lucia, Geoff and Liam who currently live there. Most of the conference took place in the woolshed which is in the process of being transformed into a “marae-style” area while people slept in tents scattered around the property. Cooking was done collectively (thanks to all those that helped prepare such great food and thanks to Steven for the home-brew!) and a commitment was made to have the conference itself run by those in attendance.
A very diverse range of topics were covered over the weekend including facilitation and consensus meeting processes, feminism, deschooling, non-monogamous relationships, a “where to next?” look at the anarchist movement in Aotearoa, finding common ground amongst anarchists and those on the left, discussing the media resources available to us, the philosophy behind Linux, de-colonisation, natural contraceptives, living outside capitalism, networking… the list goes on.
A lot was accomplished over the course of the few days we had available to us and despite some early criticism that it was going to be very “lifestyle” orientated (due to the workshop “living outside capitalism” I believe?) I think it achieved a good combination of both the personal and the political.
The last day was spent primarily brainstorming for projects and networking. Of particular interest to me was the commitment to develop a communication network across Aotearoa to make it easier for people to get in the loop and get involved, to know what others are up to (and help out if they’re interested) and to just generally facilitate organisation and action around Aotearoa. Other projects include setting up a mutual aid network (fungus network), pirate radio in Wellington and elsewhere, creating an annual Aotearoa anarchist guidebook (containing information about contacts, various organisations, planned actions, and skills like consensus decision making), building a support network and the setting up of discussion groups among other things.
Being situated all in one place meant spending time together outside of the more structured conference timetable itself and this also led to a lot of networking and discussion as well. This more informal type of interaction of just getting to know others, developing contacts (and friends!) and in some cases committing to projects is a really valuable thing to have happen and I hope future conferences are aware of this too.
I think the Anarchist Tea Party came at a really opportune time where some were feeling quite disillusioned with the anarchist movement. I left feeling a resurgence in the anarchist movement was taking place, and seeing all the projects happening at the moment and those in the works was a really positive experience. It was generally agreed that we need to make conferences like this a more regular event and as I write this, preliminary plans are already underway in Christchurch to host another conference in 2004.
It’s now up to us to ensure that we keep the momentum generated at this conference going.