Mana movement AGM: A socialist report

April 18, 2012

By Mike Kay and Jared Phillips

Around 200 activists from the Mana movement gathered for its AGM hui at Mataikotare Marae on the shores of Lake Rotorua over the weekend of 24-25 March. The programme, including speeches, debates, practical workshops and waiata showed Mana to be a vibrant and maturing movement.

The event opened with guest speakers, the most inspiring being Dayle Takitimu of Te Whanau-a-Apanui. She focused on the struggle against oil exploration by petroleum giants in the Ruakumara Basin, but in the process delivered broadsides on a number of wider issues.

Te Whanau-a-Apanui are “tangaroa people,” explained Takitimu. The iwi was determined to uphold “te mana o te whenua - mana of the whenua; not mana over the whenua, as some iwi leaders would have it.” Speaking of the draconian Search and Surveillance Act, Takitimu described it as “the coloniser inside our living room.” She detailed her iwi’s continual struggle against the Crown, drawing applause for her observation that “it’s no coincidence that Parliament is shaped like a beehive - the role of bees is to protect their queen.” Read the rest of this entry »

Analysis and photos: Mass demonstration in Gisborne for repair of rail link

April 18, 2012

Crowded Gisborne railway station, Grey Street.

By writers for The Spark

On April 14 approximately 2000 Gisborne people and others who travelled from the nearby Wairoa township mobilised to demand the reinstatement of the Gisborne-to-Napier rail line which is under threat. People on the demonstration were angry and frustrated because the New Zealand Railways Corporation (NZRC) which trades as KiwiRail had still not committed to rebuild the line after it was damaged by storms in the previous month, and this is still the case.

It was due to a lack of maintenance that the track was badly damaged in several places. In one place between Gisborne and the Mahia Peninsula metres of track are suspended because of a preventable slip. It is broadly felt by those who demonstrated that central government doesn’t care about Gisborne because of its regional isolation. Read the rest of this entry »

Queer Avengers: Protesting and the Law Workshop (Wellington)

April 16, 2012

The Queer Avengers are holding a workshop that is open to all activists on protesting and the law. Kate Scarlet from the Wellington Community Law Centre will be giving a talk on exactly what the laws are surrounding protest, and your rights as a protester.

Topics include:

- Your right to protest, including freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful expression and association.
- Filming the police.
- Arrest – covering what you have to do, what is resisting arrest and use of force by you and the police.
- Search and seizure.
- Rights after arrest.
- Youth & the police.
- What can happen if you do commit an offence.
- Complaining about the police.

Everyone welcome, please pass through your networks! Free entry, but koha welcome. Venue has lift access if needed. If you have any questions, please email:

6pm Wednesday April 18th, Wellington Peoples’ Centre, Lukes Lane

Fundraising for locked out AFFCO workers

April 15, 2012


As the struggle between the meatworkers and the AFFCO Meatworks company passes its seventh week the nature of the financial support for the 943 locked out workers is becoming more apparent. $11,000 per week is coming in from other meatworkers around the country, in the last two weeks, $12,000 in street donations have been collected and $80,000 has come from the various union fighting funds. It’s estimated that $100,000 a week is needed to keep the workers income at something close to their at work pay. In Wellington just over $2000 was collected in three hours at the Newtown markets and on Manners St. Regular collections are being organised in the major city centres and protest marches have been called all across the country.




You can make a donation to the lockout fund by calling 0900 LOCKOUT

New research into ethics and class: the rich are more likely to cut you off while driving and take candy from children

April 14, 2012

Kelly Pope, Workers Party, Christchurch

With increasing industrial and social action against inequality taking place around the world, one outcome has been a shift in the focus of research towards the issues these movements and campaigns are highlighting. For example, in psychology and ethics there has been a recent emphasis on exploring the relationship between wealth distribution or class and a range of behaviours and dispositions that are considered pro-social and ethical, or anti-social and immoral.

Research that has recently featured in the media found that employers are four times as likely as the general population to have anti-social personality disorder, the condition experienced by people often referred to as psychopaths, which is characterised by impulsivity, manipulative behaviour and the inability to empathise with others. Looking more deeply into the relationship between socio-economic class and anti-social behaviour, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have carried out a series of studies, all of which have shown unethical behaviour to be more prevalent in the upper classes. Read the rest of this entry »

The dialectical relationship between work and mental health – Part 4

April 12, 2012

This is the final instalment of a four-part series by Kelly Pope

From a Marxist perspective, the low pay rates of jobs with low psycho-social quality is related to the concept of exploitation – the necessity for wages to be worth less than the value created by the worker’s labour, in order to continue to make a profit. A further component of employment’s potential detriment to mental health, well-being and recovery which is not covered in the research carried out by Butterworth and other (see part 3), is workers’ experiences of alienation. In his book which looks at work and sickness, Paul Bellaby discusses the way in which jobs can accentuate certain qualities of the body and mind, but can also depreciate others. A participant from one of the qualitative interviews quoted in this book talks about alienation with great clarity, as well as its impact on well-being as a worker undertaking solitary tasks.

You hardly talk to anyone. You have no idea what is happening around you – and you lose touch with what is happening in the world. After a while it gets so that you have no conversation, and when you go out socially you do not know what to say – eventually you lose all your self-confidence. (Bellaby) Read the rest of this entry »

Support locked out meatworkers (Wellington event tomorrow)

April 11, 2012

Support Locked Out Meatworkers: Public Meeting

A public meeting is being called to organise solidarity and support for the locked out meatworkers. There are still over 800 workers locked out and everyday they stay strong requires more than just a physical presence outside their work sites. We need thousands of dollars to help feed their families and keep roofs over their heads.
But more than that, we need to do everything we can do to help them WIN.

7pm Thursday 11th April

April Spark online

April 11, 2012

Editorial: Byron Clark

Recently I stopped at the Occupy Christchuch site (which had the previous day agreed with the local council to end the camp) to help clean up a bit and pick up a banner I had provided. The banner read “We won’t pay for the failure of their system!” and had been hanging between two trees for the last few months.

The banner pre-dated the campsite and had its first public outing when it was unveiled at the Christchurch Town Hall while John Key spoke at a so-called ‘jobs summit’. The two activists who held it up were swiftly trespassed from the building- although the series of earthquakes Christchurch has experienced since then has made this punishment somewhat redundant.

The banner has such staying power because a common theme of struggle since the global financial crisis has been a refusal to take concessions on wages, welfare and standard of living. This issue looks at a number of those situations. One of the biggest situations is with the Ports of Auckland workers who are refusing to give up their hard-won union contracts in exchange for casualised jobs. With significant welfare reform on the horizon beneficiaries are also being told they should tighten their belts. Whatever situation you are in- at work, out of work, unable to work, now is the time to say that you won’t pay for the failure of a system that does not work for the majority of people.
Kia Kaha


Interview: Marika Pratley on An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree

April 10, 2012

Workers Party member Marika Pratley was nominated for an award for composition in the play An Unfortunate Willingness to agree which ran at the Fringe Festival from 27 Feb 2012 to 2 Mar 2012. The production won a Fringe award for Best Dance and received an honorable mention for Sound Design. The Spark interviewed Marika about music and politics.

The Spark: What attracted you to this project?
MP: An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree was an opportunity for me to explore writing music for a contemporary dance show that was concerned with exploring political themes. Oliver Connew (director) was interested in ideas relating to social alienation, for example what caused things like the London Riots and Occupy movements, and how distanced people are from what happens in politics (i.e. the government) and the mainstream media. I was attracted to exploring these ideas in an artwork so applied for the job.

The Spark: How did you get into music in the first place?
MP: I started learning piano at kindergarten. It was not until high school I got into writing my own music, which was more avant garde focused and influenced by many genres, especially Greek and Classical music. I decided to pursue a Bachelor of Music majoring in Composition when I was in my final year of school and involve myself as much as I can in many different musical communities. Since then my style has evolved quite a bit and I have become more interested in sonic arts, i.e. weird noises and abstracted work.

The Spark: How do you think your politics intersect with your creative work?
MP: This particular case was my first ‘go’ at writing music with a political theme. Political music work is something I have shied away from in the past. I think this is partly because institutions are more concerned with you developing aesthetic related technique than concept-related ideas of music. Also my style is not usually dealing with text or lyrics, so in order to make a political point I would need to work with images or another art form. I am quite keen to take up the challenge and explore this further though.

The Spark: What other projects have you got coming up?
MP: One of the dancers asked me to collaborate with him on his choreography work which will premier at Te Whaea in May, but aside from that I am mainly just focusing on band work. I am hoping however to start work soon on a Palestine themed exhibition with a sound-based component. This is still in its early stages though and I am trying to find other artists to collaborate with. I also have a side project for fun that is inspired by sloths.

US and New Zealand: The struggle for access to abortions and contraception continues

April 8, 2012

Vita Bryant, Workers Party, Wellington

In the heat of the campaigning for the Republican Primaries, Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, a well-respected Catholic university in Washington DC, applied to make a submission to the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee had convened to discuss whether or not to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which would allow employers to opt out of providing insurance coverage for contraception on religious grounds – in other words, regardless of an employee’s religious belief, their employer can mandate whether or not their insurance will cover access to contraception. In a country where the costs of medicines are largely covered by private insurance arrangements, such an amendment could leave the contraceptive choices of hundreds of thousands of women in the United States to the whims of their employers. Read the rest of this entry »


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