1995 has been an interesting year for the anarchist movement. Over the past few years the movement has grown from a handful of individual activists to being a movement with enough numbers and a degree of organisation that makes other people take it seriously, whether they like it or not. Who would have thought five years ago that we would see an anarchist conference being reported positively on prime time TV? However, having acknowledged the progress so far, the question is - what now?
At the 1995 conference, it appeared many people agreed that things have advanced as far as they can with the current levels of organisation and methods of doing things. If we don't have a clear idea of where we are heading there is a danger that entropy will set in, people will drift off and progress will halt. We have along way to go yet. The state isn't going to fall down unless we push it.
The one group that has really made advances in 1995 have been Maori activists. While liberal and Marxist groups have continued their slide into irrelevance.
We need to discus how anarchist` relate to Maori sovereignty issues. Where we ourselves are going and how we are going to get there needs to be discussed. The methods that have made us an effective activist group aren't necessarily the same as those that can make u a movement able to change the direction society is heading.
Think about these things and write to us when you have the answers.
Wellington Anarchist Conference April 1995
THE FREEDOM SHOP (Wellington)
THE FREEDOM SHOP opened on the 1st of May this year, following a total refurbishing. It has done extremely well in its new incarnation. Formerly the NORML shop, this cozy space is now a shared project.
This success was very much helped by NORML covering the rent! The renovations included repainting the outside, and sprucing up the inside by adding some nice green painted shelves and polishing the floor. Since opening, we have sold tons of anarchist goods.
Profits have been put back into the shop, for ordering more books, etc. The shop is staffed by volunteers, allowing prices to be kept as low as possible - books for the working class at working class prices! Our stock includes books, magazines, pamphlets, leaflets, T-shirts, patches, records, and stickers. A catalogue is available by sending an SAE to PO Box 9263, Te Aro, Wellington. There is a good selection of books by Noam Chomsky, bell hooks and other luminaries. The shop is located at 272 Cuba St., and is open from Monday to Friday, 10 am. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"What's in that box", it demands.
"Bombs," I say, displaying my bad sense of humour. The TV journalist's nostrils dilate.
"No, I think they're bananas."
"What's going to happen today?"
"This afternoon we're going to have workshops on facilitation, anarcha-feminism, the future of anarchism, and anarchism in Russia and Spain."
"That sounds kind of heavy. I thought you anarchists were supposed to be more free-form types."
I give a nervous spiel about self-determination and non-hierarchical organization, while they wander off in search of more vibrant hair colours.
This is the start of four days of stimulating (sometimes frustrating discussion) and intrusive journalists. The media coverage is generally favourable, yet this begs the question as to what extent such coverage is desirable. I find myself waiting to see if I'm nn the news when normally I never watch television.
There is a good range of workshops. Moana Cole discusses Resistance from a Christian anarchist perspective. There are both introductory and advanced sessions on anarchism, and a series of four workshops aiming to create a plan of action for anarchism over the next few years. Particularly rewarding are the sessions on facilitation skills. On a lighter note, Bike Spirituality focuses on the uplifting aspects of cycling, and there is a rope-building workshop among the pine trees of Aro Street Park.
Saturday is McDonald's birthday, so we put some direct action into practice. At Manner's Mall, we hand out McLibel leaflets, and throw sponges at Ronald McDonald (Ross), locked in the stocks. In the evening there are music, conversation, homebrew, and videos such as: "Are you in a Bad State''". On Sunday evening is the Performance Cafe , with inspiring performances by Squawk, Johanna and Val. The ukelele orchestra lightens the mood of. the evening, which is rounded off by a strong and moving set of songs by Wendy.
The conference wrap-up session is on Monday afternoon. Problems include the short time slots for workshops, lack of cohesion due to the conference being dispersed over three venues, and poor attendance at certain important workshops such as facilitation skills. However, most people seemed to enjoy the range of workshops, and also the food!
At 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning a few tired people are carrying the last boxes of rubbish out of the Social Club for the Blind. We say good-bye. It has been easy to plan and dream over the past few days, but how will we act on it in the future?
ANARCHIST ACTIVITY is increasing in Christchurch again after a period of not a lot happening. Libertarian Press (PO Box 2,1-316, Chch) has published Can Opener (enclosed in this issue of TSA), a review of anarchist publications and two pamphlets dealing with NZ anarchist history. Declaration, the magazine of the national unemployed rights movement is still being produced by Christchurch anarchists.
A new Anarcha-Feminist group is meeting regularly and a feminist street theatre group is being formed. For details phone Gaye on (03) 3749171. ARM is not holding regular meetings again. and is not planning video evenings, political discussions but a group that is not ARM is planning possibly an activist conference in early 1996. They can be contacted at PO Box 22-301, Christchurch. Molten Media, a community printing collective, is soon to be involved in training unemployed people in desktop publishing and printing skills, at the same time hoping to be providing cheap publishing to community groups. A workshop on decolonisation was held organised with the help of Action For an Independent Aotearoa and anarchists recently organised a successful protest against the Indonesian military occupation of East Timor and the New Zealand military links to that occupation.
The big news in Christchurch is the sacking of over a hundred cleaners from hospital jobs. The multinational corporation P & O is responsible for the sackings as they have the cleaning contract. Demos have been quite militant for New Zealand. P & O own many companies... look them up in the phone book for their nearest office! Anarchists have been helping out on all night pickets of the hospital, providing food and other support over the first two weeks.
THERE IS NO formal anarchist group in Dunedin yet, but several people down there have been active in helping make things happen.
The Otago university registry was occupied in May as part of an action against student fees. The Dunedin Education Action Group has been more willing than other groups to target university administrations for their lack of action against fee rises, making their actions more effective than groups who rely on lobbying politicians. Politicians pass the buck to the universities and the universities pass it back again. The EAG also held protests during the National Party annual conference in Dunedin, resulting in seven arrests and complaints to the Police Complaints Authority regarding excessive force. Police were also reported to be swapping identity numbers.
A candlelight vigil to protest French Nuclear. weapons testing was held in the Octagon on Bastille Day. An organiser said part of the reason for this type of action was to involve members of the public who had not previously taken part in protests, and to create a precedent for future demonstrations in the Octagon.
Anarchists were also involved in protests in Arrowtown during the visit of Commonwealth leaders for their `retreat' in the middle of the Chogm meeting, and in anti-McDonalds actions.
Their seem to be quite a few anarchist-minded people in Dunedin, How about getting together and seeing if forming some sort of, more.. normal-group is possible?"`
IN 1995, WELLINGTON ANARCHISTS have supported the people of Pakaitore Marae in their peaceful occupation of their own land by producing two pamphlets (Tino Rangatiratanga and Pakaitore, reviewed opposite). These served both to spread information, and as fundraising - all money from the sales went straight to the people of Pakaitore. During the occupation a fundraising dinner was held at Crossways, and proved verv successful, $300 being raised. In July we also organised a meal and meeting at the People's Resource Centre. Ken Mair and other spokespeople from Pakaitore spoke, and networking between anarchist and Maori groups was discussed.
This booklet is based on a collection of articles on Tino Rangatiratanga originally put out by the people of Pakaitore Marae. It contains a history of the endlessly repeating Government treachery towards Maori in regard to the Treaty, and has sections on the little-known Declaration of Independence of Aotearoa signed in 1835, and the real story behind John Ballance, Aotearoa' s racist fascistic prime minister between 1890-93. Essential reading to stave off the media manipulation of history. All money from sales goes to the people of Pakaitore Marae.
Pakaitore: Whanganui Iwi Declaration of Nationhood
produced by the Committee for the Establishment of Civilization: 12 pages, $2.50. (all money goes to the people of Pakaitore)
Compiled as the High Court was still deliberating the fate of the disputed land and its occupiers, this is a useful source of information on the basics of the original sale of Pakaitore, Tino Rangatiratanga, and the philosophical and historical perspective of the Whanganui Iwi. One of the few sources of information based on information given by the Iwi themselves, and not the mass media, and therefore a tool for unerstanding what all the fuss is about. If you still have questions, then read about the Treaty of Waitangi - that's where this declaration is coming from. Excellent introduction to understanding the Pakaitore occupation.