Wednesday, 19 October 2011


No doubt my site is going to have a few issues over the next couple of days - I started out intending to upload some photos of the camp from today and yesterday, and ended up... er, switching hosting companies entirely and planning to switch blog platforms too. In the meantime I'll stick these photos up on photobucket or something because today's ones especially are kinda impressive solely because of the ten people still actually in camp when the main living area has two inches of water on the floor! Thank god it's stopped raining now, and hopefully it won't start again overnight.

ETA: Here's the album with photos from the last two days. The first six are yesterday, the wet ones are today.

Day Four

Christchurch locals will know that the weather was miserable today. I had flax weaving during the day but afterwards made my way to Hagley Park with some paint and tea and a ginger loaf, where people were sitting and moving around wrapped in blankets and warm clothing. A few people were fixing a tent which had collapsed in the wind, which was having a bit of a go at some of the others too, but once I settled down under the gazebo and got my sewing out I got into some conversations and everyone was still cheerful, if cold. The general consensus was that at least people seeing that we were still out there meant they might realise we were serious and not just out for a lark.

We had a couple of people drop things by too, which was awesome - someone brought muffins, and a lady came by to donate a blanket and a couple of big bottles of drinking water. Later on we had a workshop on dealing with the police in a worst case scenario, especially as there's a somewhat disturbing story going around at the moment, but as things stand we are getting on quite fine with the police and I hope that continues obviously.

At eight is the evening general meeting which I got to stay for and quite a few people turned up for that since the meetings are pretty much the most important part of the day. Someone volunteers to facilitate to make sure anyone who wants to speak gets heard and move through the agenda - there were twelve items on it tonight that had been added through the day and at the end people can raise any other points. It's open to everyone so any locals who are interested, they're at 10am and 8pm every day and go for up to two hours, maybe a bit more. They're basically for covering the pragmatic details, and the meeting minutes are posted online on the website.

I did goof and not double check when buses finish now so when we finished I ended up walking home. It was a bit surprising - the city goes dead at night. I saw maybe three other pedestrians the whole way home, and not that many cars either. I probably should have expected that, but it was still a little eerie.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Countdown Begins

I just want to make a couple of things clear here, coming up to the election. The purpose of this blog is not to influence anyone's political opinions, nor to endorse any candidate or party. I particularly have not, do not, and will not accept any kind of financial or physical recompense for advertising or endorsing any candidate, party or political position.

My tangential involvement with the Occupy movement is not political. To me, this is a social issue first and foremost - I think that, as a culture, our priorities are messed up. As far as I'm aware the movement itself doesn't have any particular political position anyway, but really my involvement is simply an extension of my day job in trying to do my best for the society that I really do love, particularly here in Ōtautahi who have been struggling over the last year.

So, yeah, given we're a month out from the election now, I will be largely posting only news especially relating to Occupy, not political commentary. Likely I won't have a huge amount of time at the computer either.

If anyone local wants to get in touch with me for any reason, I of course am on Twitter so you can send me a message there (either through @replies or direct message if you're on my follow list), or you can ask me for my mobile number. Otherwise you can email me, I have gmail under thelittlepakeha, or of course leave a comment on any post here.

Occupy Everything

It all started innocuously enough with a July 13 blog post urging people to #OccupyWallStreet, as though such a thing (Twitter hashtag and all) were possible.

It turns out, with enough momentum and a keen sense of how to use social media, it actually is.

The Occupy movement, decentralized and leaderless, has mobilized thousands of people around the world almost exclusively via the Internet. To a large degree through Twitter, and also with platforms like Facebook and Meetup, crowds have connected and gathered.

As with any movement, a spark is needed to start word spreading. SocialFlow, a social media marketing company, did an analysis for Reuters of the history of the Occupy hashtag on Twitter and the ways it spread and took root.

(more at the link - comments enabled) (video)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Protesters demand to know fate of homes (comments enabled)

More than 100 protesters have vented their anger at the Government for the lack of information on the fate of their earthquake-damaged land.

Yesterday, protesters from around the city attended a rally at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens aimed at lobbying the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority for more information on the fate of homes in the orange and white zones.

Owners of about 9000 homes in the orange zone and thousands more in the white zone have been waiting for months to learn whether their damaged land will be repaired or abandoned.

Supporters carried placards calling for clarity and transparency from the Government and Cera.

Rally organiser Darla Hutt, of Spencerville, said the protesters wanted their voices to be heard. "They haven't been heard, pretty much, since day one," she said.

"Out here in Spencerville and Brooklands, we've been waiting for 13 months now. If they can't tell us what's going on, we want to know why."

Labour's earthquake recovery spokesman, Clayton Cosgrove, and Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel spoke at the rally. Cosgrove said orange and white-zone residents were sick of having a "moving line", and called on Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to be "honest".

"Don't set timelines, and don't say things that are going to cause stress, ratchet up expectation and make promises that you have no intention of keeping," he said.

"The clear message we've got from communities is, `Give it to us, warts and all'."

Hutt said Brownlee, Cera chief executive Roger Sutton and the city's National MPs declined to attend the rally.

The group had planned to march to the Arts Centre after being told it did not have Christchurch City Council approval to hold the event, but, despite a police presence, the protest continued at the gardens without incident.

A spokesman for Brownlee said the Government's view was that orange zones were the top priority.

"We said [last week] Cera would give everyone in the orange zone an update within two weeks, so that means that there will be some form of an update by the end of this week."

Occupy Worldwide (video)

Protests catch on

A month ago the Occupy Wall Street movement had barely registered in the public consciousness.

A formless, seemingly spontaneous crowd of young people had gathered in the Wall Street area of lower Manhattan, the heart of American and global capitalism, to shout anti-capitalist slogans at the pampered, overpaid fat-cat bankers and financiers whom they saw as the authors of the economic woes the world seems unable to shake off. But apart from upsetting a few Wall Streeters who were impeded from getting their lattes at lunchtime, no-one took much notice.

Now, through the magic of Facebook, Twitter and the like the movement appears to be everywhere. In the United States, it has spread from New York to a dozen other cities around the country. In Europe, which was already restive after riots in Greece and Britain, demonstrations inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement occurred in Rome and Berlin, where the protesters clashed violently with the police, and thousands marched in London. According to some accounts, demonstrations at the weekend were held in 951 cities across 82 countries, including New Zealand, where unlike the rest of the world where the gatherings were largely leaderless, some unions got on the bandwagon to organise protests.

Some enthusiastic participants are proclaiming the beginning of a mass movement, but apart from a generalised disgust with the performance of the financial world and politicians – sentiments by no means confined to street-marching protesters – it is difficult to discern a common theme to the protests, still less any kind of common answer to the economic problems of the world. In the United States, the movement has focused on the bailout of banks, the huge bonuses bankers have managed to continue raking in despite the havoc they have wreaked, the inequities of the tax system and inequalities of wealth. One segment of the movement claims that they represent 99 per cent of the nation against the 1 per cent of the reigning business and political class. So far as what they dislike is concerned that could very well be true, but when it comes to the remedies to these ills there is no consensus.

In Europe, the protests are even less coherent. In southern European countries such as Italy and Spain, they are focused on the very real unemployment and financial pain being inflicted, particularly on the young, by the adjustments the countries need to make after years of living beyond their means. In Germany, the loudest shouts of the protesters are against the schemes for saving the profligate countries, for which German taxpayers will have to pay.

Unformed as they may be, the protesters are undoubtedly expressing widely felt discontent but converting that discontent into a politically effective message will take more than a few blocked streets in busy business districts. In this respect the Occupy Wall Street movement is a Left-wing counterpart to the Right-wing Tea Party movement in the US. While Tea Partiers have managed to articulate middle-class fears and worries with considerable skill, their influence so far, despite heavyweight financial backing, has been almost entirely negative. Neither movement can be written off at this point, but neither stands much chance of making further headway unless it finds something more positive to offer.