An ode to camping at Occupy Wellington

Opinion piece by Anne Russell, originally posted on Scoop.

The campsite where Occupy Wellington once stood looked a little forlorn when I went to pick up my tent. I hadn’t slept in Civic Square for many weeks, and had stopped visiting since we sent out the press release that Occupy was more than a campsite, but my tent had protested through thick and thin, despite not knowing what it wanted. I could see no familiar faces among the people milling about between tents, but then I spotted 15-year-old Wes, nicknamed Snoopy in one of the General Assemblies so long ago. I gave him a huge hug. “Wes! Where you been at? I haven’t seen you around here for ages!”

“At home. I love my bed,” he said. We walked over to my tent and found a person crawling around in it. I opted to go for a walk until they’d packed up, since I was effectively in strangers’ territory. When I returned, my tent and bedroll were in a neat pile next to the gardening box, which still had a healthy crop of silverbeet and red flowers. I hoisted my belongings, waved at the people I vaguely knew, who wished me a merry Christmas, and walked off. I passed the whiteboard, once full of information, now blank but for “Occupy Wellington is still here” scrawled across it. I walked away from camp down the Civic Square steps for the last time. And that was that, I suppose.

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Occupy Wellington Looks to the Future: “It’s not just about the tents”

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for the enormous support you’ve shown since Occupy Wellington began on October 15th.

After two months of camping in Civic Square, we’re extremely excited to announce Occupy Wellington’s vision for the next phase of the movement.

The Civic Square camp has provided an incredibly successful vehicle to open public discussion about economic inequality. But the global Occupy movement is about much more than a collection of tents. The next phase is about moving forward to more effectively engage with the enormous support shown in the wider community from a more sustainable indoor base.

The camp was never intended to be permanent. Because so many supporters of Occupy Wellington have jobs and other commitments, we’re focusing on activities that allow the participation of people who are not able to physically camp.

Although Occupy Wellington is no longer based in Civic Square, clearly some individuals may continue to exercise their right to remain there.  

Recognising the limitations of a temporary camp has led to in-depth discussion about the best way of moving forward. Similar discussions are taking place in Occupy sites all over the world. Occupy supporters in New Zealand are participating in international web-based conferences, to collaboratively develop a collective global vision for the future of the Occupy movement, dubbed “Occupy 2.0”.

This means some big changes locally, in the transition to the next phase.

Plans are underway to start a ‘Bank of Ideas’ in central Wellington, modeled on the Occupy London initiative of the same name. The Bank of Ideas will promote the non-monetary trade of ideas to help solve pressing economic, social and environmental problems, and encourage transformative change towards a system that works for all.

The Bank of Ideas will provide a space for the collaboration of like-minded individuals and groups in Wellington working on different facets of the same basic problem, including environmental groups, unions and other workers’ rights groups, activist networks, community groups, academics, professionals, students and faith-based groups.

The space will be used to continue the ‘Free University’ community-based education initiative, community workshops and events, and to host public General Assemblies.

As we transition into this next phase, we will need a great deal of support. It has become increasingly apparent that Wellington contains a huge number of people who support the global Occupy movement but have not seen a clear way of contributing locally.

Our vision for the next phase is to restructure the movement to enable the participation of all individuals and organisations that share a basic desire for a more equitable and sustainable future.

We want all of these groups and individuals to benefit from being linked in to a global movement simultaneously taking place in 3,000 cities, utilizing the media appeal and public awareness and excitement associated with the Occupy movement to further their diverse campaigns for positive change.

The first thing we need to secure is a suitable indoor space – we’re exploring some promising options, but we need as much help as we can get. If you have any ideas for possible spaces, or contacts for other people who might have relevant information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email [] or phone [0223150958].

This week @ Occupy Wellington

Action Meeting

Thursday evening there is an action group meeting @ Meow cafe @ 6pm. Calling out for people that haven’t previously been involved or not recently to come and get involved in planning for future actions and events.
The People’s Forum continues this Friday at 5.30pm

This week we will focus on ‘what are human rights?’ and our national vision statement.

The People’s Forum is founded on respect for all people and equality for all voices. Together we can discuss the problems that face us locally and globally, and together we can generate solutions accessible to everyone.

We must recognise that the problems facing the world today are the natural product of the institutions we have built. We can not expect the solutions to these problems to come from within these same institutions. The solutions must come from the people, united.

We believe the global problems we face require a global redesign that can only be achieved by the collaboration, cooperation and creativity of all the world’s people. This redesign is happening now in 2,500 Occupied Cities around the world, and we need your input.

It is the people, not politicians, that are best qualified to create sustainable, healthy, happy communities. Together we can shape a future that is environmentally, socially and economically just for everyone.

Fb event:

On Saturday we are celebrating Universal Human Rights day

An Occupy Global Day of Action for Universal Human Rights Day. Please come join us for a day of action to unite in solidarity with all people both globally and in Aotearoa, who are struggling for Justice, Freedom and Equality.

We are global citizens and it is important we recognise that our actions here can perpetuate the abuse of human rights for people on the other side of the world or demand their end!

Here, and all over the world atrocious abuses of human rights are being committed. Living in an era of poverty, war, terror, environmental destruction and shocking wealth inequalities we face a long road to create a world that looks after our planet and all its inhabitants.

Lets celebrate our faith that humanity IS capable of creating such a world!

We will begin with speeches in Civic Square then parade around the city spreading our message. Bring your voice, bring your heart, bring an instrument and dress up!!

Lets celebrate our faith that humanity is capable of living together in harmony, of caring and respecting each other and creating a world which looks after all beings.

There shall be Balloons, bubbles, music & sparkly stuff! It’s not just a protest! It’s a parade!
Fb event:

Sunday: Occupy Community Day
Come down for all kinds of activities in Civic Square this Sunday. There will be workshops and talks about how the DIY ethos is transforming our world for the better. The real free trade market will be on as always: bring anything you’d like to give away or trade – clothes, plants, food, artwork, mixtapes, whatever. Bring a plate if you’d like to share in the potluck lunch. We’ll have a kids zone set up so you can unleash them on us for the day while you enjoy the talks and workshops. And of course we’ll round the day out with lots of sweet local music.

There is plenty of space for more workshops so get in touch if you’d like to contribute: for more details.

Confirmed Schedule (stay tuned for more to be added soon)
* 10.30am: Beat Roots drumming and percussion circle
* 11.30: My Mihi – with Seth and Liz
*12:30: Patch Workshop – with Cherry
* from 1pm on: Bike repair – with Allan
* 1:30: Local Food Resilience – with Fredd
* 2:30: presentation on Pedal Powered Generators- with Robin
* 3:30: Practical and Creative Carpentry – with Darcy
* 4:30: presentation on Maker Movement- with RichB & RichF
* 5:00: Music

Workshop Details
My Mihi:
Mihimihi is a powerful and grounding Maori greeting practice.
The intention of our My Mihi workshop is to open up the structure, form and learning of mihimihi to make this practice of acknowledgement more accessible to people from different/ mixed/ confused cultural backgrounds.
Takes an inside-out approach with a focus on supporting participants to softly and playfully connect with their identities. We build strength and clarity in ourselves, so that we can express ourselves freely and powerfully.

Bike Repair:
bring your bike and learn how to fix or modify it!

Local Food Resilience:
A look at how cities are unprepared for peak oil and emergencies; learn some ways to re-green and re-food the city; brief intro to permaculture; info on setting up a garden, and making seed bombs. BYO seeds!

Practical and Creative Carpentry:
bring ideas and learn how to make them real, learn practical tips on how to build with wood.

Maker movement:
Rich B started out as an engineer making DIY hobby electronics, which soon turned him into an artist, and now he seems to be some kind of activist. He shares lessons from his experience and his philosophy on DIY everything.

Rich F is a local ambassador for the international maker movement: a loose collection of crafters and hackers and hobbyists that are reclaiming the power of production away from factories. He is particularly keen to talk about the coming revolution of 3D printing at home.
Fb event:

Occupy Wellington Supporter Survey

Please take the time to fill out our survey:

Click here to take survey

ANZCO Meatworkers’ Challenge to McDonald’s

Today (Saturday 3rd December 2011) at 12 noon Occupy Wellington showed solidarity with the locked out CMP meat workers by rallying along side them, their families and supporters outside of McDonald’s on Manners Street. This was just one of many actions taking place across the country to put pressure on the food giant to take some responsibility for the unfair treatment of these workers.

Over 100 meat workers have been locked out of their jobs for over six weeks now. They are being punished for not accepting an unreasonable decrease in their pay of 20%. Their employer ANZCO Foods is a primary supplier of beef to the McDonald’s food chain.

During and after the rally, Occupy Wellington helped raise funds around Wellington’s CBD for the locked out meat workers and their families, who collectively require $25,000 per week just to survive.

Many unions made an appearance in solidarity. Among these were: Unite, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, the New Zealand Engineers Union and the New Zealand Nurses Union.

On Friday night Occupy Wellington also helped with a charity fund raiser quiz night to raise funds for the locked out workers and their families. The event was hosted by the New Zealand Public Service Association. Over $2,000 was raised on door sales alone, with more than 40 people coming to show their support.

“It was a good turn out and a great success,” said Darcy, who was among the organisers for both events. “It’s a sign of things to come to see how strong the solidarity of the workers in this country is. This is only the start, not the end.”

If you would like to donate to the families of the affected you can automatically make a $5 donation by calling 0900 LOCKOUT

Occupy Wellington Send Message about State Owned Asset Sales

Thursday, 24 November 2011, 5:25 pm
Press Release: Occupy Wellington

Occupy Wellington Utilise Old and New Technologies to Send Message about State Owned Asset Sales

Departing from the global Occupy movement’s reputation for relying on modern social networking, Occupy Wellington supporters hand-delivered a letter to the Minister of Finance and Minister of State Owned Enterprises today, requesting justification for the sale of state owned assets.

The Occupiers’ letter is a response to the announcement this month that the New Zealand Treasury has hired Lazard Ltd., a foreign investment bank, to advise the National government on the sale of state assets. It has been estimated that Lazard will be paid around $100 million for their services.

“Like the vast majority of New Zealanders, many people in the Occupy movement are concerned that the sale of state owned assets won’t benefit the public of New Zealand” says John Maynard, a supporter of Occupy Wellington and President of the Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa Southern District.

“We thought we’d write our ministers a letter to ask for an explanation as to how selling state assets will make for a more equitable distribution of wealth” says Maynard.

The delivery of the letter was accompanied by a speech on Parliament lawn delivered by Bill Rosenberg, Council of Trade Unions Economist and Director of Policy.

The content of the letter was also loudly conveyed to onlookers and MPs at Parliament using a public address technique called the “human microphone”, in which the speaker’s words are amplified by the voices of surrounding supporters.

The human microphone technique arose out of the ban on amplification in Zucotti Park in the early days of Occupy Wall St and has become ubiquitous throughout the global Occupy movement.

Because Lazard Ltd. does not have an office in New Zealand, the group chose to send an email to Lazard CEO Kenneth Jacobs, extending an invitation for him to join a public discussion to explain the bank’s perspective.

While Occupy Wellington has heavily utilised internet social networking and web-based conferencing to communicate with national and international Occupy supporters, more traditional channels have also been used since the beginning of the movement.

In the first week of the Wellington Occupation, a letterbox was donated and installed at the Occupy site by the Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa, allowing the group to receive messages of support by post to their Civic Square address.

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A Beacon of Hope

Tena kotu katoa,

The times are calling to us: to the youth, the workers, the home makers, the investors, the politicians and the elderly alike, to vote in Saturday’s General Election; to exercise our freedom to move beyond selfish greed and demand a new deal; to demand that our island nation move on from the frontier tunnel-vision which treats our land and seas as a quarry for short term gains, while throwing away tax payer money to prop up and expand the increasingly redundant oil-based economy.

The times call for us all to heed the call of hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens, and millions across the world, for urgent investment in a job rich clean energy society.

The basic needs of all could be met by reinvigorating the principles of democracy, by everyone working together towards a nation that everyone can believe in: a nation that looks to the interests of its children and youth in the 21st Century; an nation that makes provisions for its ageing citizens; and a nation that retains control of its strategic assets such as its hydro dams, water reserves, and
banking system.

The times call for sea-change reforms in national economic policies, to stop subsidising the redundant frontier economy, the dinosaur motorway developments and short sighted energy projects.

The times call for all New Zealander’s to demand for community and local economic development as the home making backbone to build a nation resilient to the decline of cheap oil and its cycle of dependence the global economy and militarism.

This election will determine how well prepared and governed we will be as we face the challenges of the 21st. A new imperative for local and community economic development could engage our youth in a common enterprise like no other in the history of our Pacific island nation.

We must commit ourselves to building upon our nation’s proud heritage to forge a positive and innovative society, a decent regional neighbour and a beckon of hope in the 21st Century.

Alastair McKee, Wellington (23/11/11)
[with editing and additions by Robert von Garrett and the OW comms team, Wellington (24/11/11)]

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Wellington Occupants Won’t Be Blown Away

Reports are coming in from across Wellington of windows having been blown in, roofs that have been lifted and trees that were brought down by gusts of up to 140 kph. At least one ferry service has been cancelled and planes have been unable to land at Wellington airport.

Meanwhile, the occupants at Occupy Wellington are busy tidying up camp in preparation for a long day of further high winds at Wellington’s Civic Square.

Fifteen occupants roughed it through the night despite the wind, with a further seven in Occupy Pomare battening down the hatches. Another three Wellington Occupiers spent the night in Marton, to join the locked out CMP workers on their picket at 4.30am. Many regular occupants choose to stay at home or with friends and family, rather than endure another sleepless night at Occupy Wellington, only to return to camp to find their tents in various states of disarray.

A lot of the tents are just not designed for this kind of weather. Many tents were torn down by gale force winds. The greenhouse (also serving as our temporary information tent) had to be taken down before it was destroyed. Four occupants stayed up through the night to ensure the camp was secure, that the rest of the camp was suitably sheltered and that nothing blew away.

Unaffected by the wind was the camp’s trusty wind turbine, which is still going strong producing power to charge the camp’s cellphones and laptops.

According to forecaster Oliver Druce “There will be north-west gales and rain until 6pm this evening when there will be a southerly change.”

Written by Robert von Garrett (On-site reporter for Occupy Wellington)


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Round up from the Global Day of Action

30.000 people in Athens, Greece

32,000 people on the streets of NYC – dirty hippies should get a job!

We had a great day today as part of the global day of action in support of pro-democracy movements around the world. We introduced the human microphone to the lovely people of Midland Park. We got a lot of great press, which is refreshing. Check it out:

This comes in the context of all kinds of activities all around the world. Here’s the wrap-up from Wall St today  and a compilation of social media reports compiled by AdBusters (and check this sweet projection and this moving photo series).

News from the rest of the student protests around the world are slow in coming in but here’s a couple quick links for now:

28,000 people in Greece celebrate the anniversary of the student-led demonstration that overthrew the military junta in 1974 (7000 cops to greet them).

Occupy Seoul march against the Korea-US free trade agreement.

In Egypt, Tahrir Square is back in action today too, with diverse groups uniting to demand the military to hand power over to civilians.

And breaking news! two new Occupations sprung up in NZ today. Kia kaha to Occupy Pomare, and Occupy Marton camping out in solidarity with the locked out workers of CMP.