People began gathering at Te Papa after 10am today. By 12 noon thousands of people began the march to the Beehive with many more pouring out of buildings to join along the way during the lunch hours. Chants echoed around the CBD. The crowd swelled to between 5,000-7,000 people by the time it reached Parliament grounds.
Every type of Kiwi was represented. People had travelled from the top of the North Island, South Island, East Cape and Taranaki to express their personal opposition to Government plans or on behalf of their communities. The mandate the government claims to have for selling state assets was sidelined by the protesters claiming the Government didn't have the right to sell their assets, they were only managers of them.
The current government was put on notice: Aotearoa is Not For Sale.
Protesters don't believe the Prime Minister's claim that he didn't know about the protest. Silhouettes seen from floors of the beehive could be seen from parliament grounds. News and numbers of people involved in the march would likely have been immediately passed on to John Key.
Peter Dunne wasn't at his office yesterday, nor waiting on the steps of Parliament to justify his current position supporting public asset sales. Leaders of the protest said Mr Dunne can let the public know when he'll be at his electorate office next week and they will turn up.
Peter Dunne has presented himself as 'Mr Common Sense' in past elections. Selling essential and strategic state assets and resources does not marry up with the public's common sense. Protesters see it's time for him to switch back to form and oppose the privatisation of public assets.
As one speaker pointed out asset sales are "like selling my furniture to go to the movies".
The march today co-incided with the eighth anniversary of the massive march opposing the seabed and foreshore in 2004.
At that time, politicians from Labour and National parties had publicly created division between Maori and non-Maori by saying Maori legal action would lead to non-Maori being prevented from going to the beach. They claimed that if the seabed and foreshore was owned by the Government it would protect the rights of access of all New Zealanders.
The truth was exposed when only weeks after the Seabed and Foreshore Act was signed: seabed areas the size of New Zealand had permits approved for oil and mineral prospecting. The Government had nationalised the seabed for international corporate interests. As a result we are now we are forced to protest against the risks of deep sea oil drilling and seabed mining by multinational companies.
However, hikoi 'Aotearoa is Not For Sale' has brought the population together again to oppose the selling of our assets, land and resources to corporate interests.
Tomorrow between 12 and 3pm a free concert will be held in Civic Square in support of the hikoi.
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