UPDATE: Pictures are now up on the Events page.
Today, the Cabinet met at the Copthorne hotel near the airport. There were about thirty people there to "meet" them, so I decided to stop by after work to join in and have a chat to a few people. (I overlooked the fact that turning up in a shirt and tie, accompanying someone with a camera round her neck, made me look a little like a journo, but the lack of a press badge and the fact we stuck around for a while without trying to interview anyone did at least something to dispel that.)
The most striking thing about the crowd was that people had so many different agendas. It's to be expected, really - this was a golden opportunity and there's a lot to be angry about. It did mean, however, a bit of clash when people's opinions overlapped, and a bit of discomfit when people were being particularly noisy about some things that we didn't entirely want to be associated with - there was a fair amount of venom directed towards the police officers, who were actually acting pretty damn professionally, as well as general sexism, fat-shaming, homophobia, and rhetoric comparing our politicians to actual overseas dictators. I mean, hey, I hate John Key with a fucking passion, but I can admit he's no Gaddaffi. I'll grab the photos later and get them up so you can see the range of signs. One of the funniest moments was actually when Roger Sutton was leaving and one guy was saying, "Roger Sutton for Prime Minister!" while another chanted, "Arrest Roger Sutton!"
On the whole it wasn't too bad though, and there were some good people there. Even the guy we got into a bit of a slagging match with apologised for going off. Everyone was incredibly passionate and clearly believed pretty strongly in what they were there for; I was listening to one of the organisers give an interview to a couple of actual reporters and the things he was saying were really succinct and well thought-out. We did get quite a lot of support from passing traffic, too - the best were the big transport trucks blowing those really deep horns, and one guy who went past on a bicycle ringing the bell madly. Predictably, no politicians came out, but as I mentioned above, Roger Sutton did. He was leaving for the day to go and get some more work done, but instead of getting into a car well onto the Copthorne property and having the police escort him out (as everyone else did), he just calmly walked out and stopped for a moment to say hi, answer a couple of questions - or at least, say he couldn't answer them - then got in his car. As he was leaving, he tooted his horn and gave us a wave, which most people were pretty happy about.
I did get a chance to speak, though I will be the first to admit I am not well versed in the use of a megaphone! I got it mostly sorted out though. The gist of it was really that we're increasingly running out of places to turn to. We're not resilient, we just have no other options, but politicians won't listen to anyone long enough to be told that. There was actually a story in the news today in which John Key was quoted as saying that we're "stoic" down here - hardly anyone has come up and complained to him. To which I say, how can we? He was barricaded away inside with six or eight police officers on hand! It isn't any real surprise, really, that people are so eager to talk to me when I'm at work - no one from the government will listen, and then they ask me where I live and find out I actually get where they're coming from and they're telling me things they haven't even told their families. As I said this afternoon, my job is half help-desk and half phone counseling.
There are also going to be more community meetings, to get people organised and talking, because as a few people rightly pointed out, it's only when people are able to share their stories that the best plans come out. The first will be next week, Wednesday the 14th of September, at 7.30pm at the Linwood Community Art Centre, 468 Worcester St. I think it's being run by Action for Christchurch East and Beyond Resistance - there's going to be a couple of short film clips and lots of talking, as well as food and drink and "child friendly space".