Asset sale hikoi marches on Parliament

Last updated 16:20 04/05/2012
KARL DRURY

Thousands of people marched today in protest against the planned asset sales. Laura Westbrook reports.

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Laura Westbrook /Fairfax Zoom
The hikoi crowds seen from the steps of Parliament.
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Kaizen Morris, 4, from Hamilton protests against asset sales in Johnsonville as the hikoi reaches Peter Dunne's electorate.

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Protesters have chanted "we've got the power" as a crowd of 5000 demonstrate against asset sales at Parliament.

The Aotearoa Not for Sale Hikoi oppose the Government's partial sale of power companies, deep sea oil drilling, mining, the Crafar farm sales and a range of other issues.

The crowd chanted: "who's got the power? - we've got the power".

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was a crowd favourite, receiving rapturous applause from the protest when he addressed them from Parliament's steps.

People cried out "shot Winston" and "love you Winnie".

He told the crowd Prime Minister John Key had no mandate to sell state assets.

"Make no bones about it, the Maori Party should have walked on this. They should have been standing up for this and thank goodness you are. Thank you for coming and best of luck."

When Mana Party leader Hone Harawira took to the microphone a loud roar rang out from the crowd.

"This is not about politics, this is not about parties, this is about people," he said.

"This issue is crucial for out children and our grandchildren for generations to come."

He then started a chant, yelling "Aotearoa is not for sale, tell John Key to go to hell".

Green Party Russel Norman leader said that the number of people in protesting today represented the unhappiness New Zealanders felt over the proposed asset sales.

"I think it's critical we keep the pressure on, the Government has a very thin majority on this."

The crowd earlier were at the steps of parliament chanting "we want Dunne", in reference to MP Peter Dunne, who holds a key vote on asset sales.

A protester climbed a statue of former Prime Minister Richard Seddon and erected a Maori sovereignty flag, to the applause of the crowd.

The protesters began dispersing after 2pm, with many heading to nearby Pipitea Marae.

This morning about 1500 people gathered outside the museum, accompanied by a large contingent of police including Maori wardens.

There was a large number of Mana Party supporters from the Far North, including party leader Hone Harawira, the party's sole MP.

Marcher Moana Henry said she had travelled down from Hamilton to take part in the Wellington hikoi.

"I'm just hoping that this will bring a broader awareness to this problem and people aware that the Government has no mandate to  do what they're doing."

"This about my children and my children's children, because there's going to be anything left if the Government keep carrying on the way they are."

Protester Alex Wong, a chef from Whangarei, said:  "I've come to protest about the Government attack against the workers and the lower classes in general."

He thought it was fantastic that so many people had turned out to the hikoi.

"This is democracy, isn't it? This is our way of letting them know. When you get support together like this, it sends a strong message to people."

 

The hikoi arrived in Wellington city this morning, with marchers abandoning plans to walk the whole route from Titahi Bay Marae, where they were camped overnight, and taking to cars instead.

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About 80 people marched through the streets of Johnsonville yesterday morning.

The group then marched to Dunne's office to try and convince him to oppose asset sales.

Aileen Morris and her daughter, Kaizen, 4, began the hikoi in Hamilton.

"It's been going really well. People are very strong. There is so much aroha. Since I joined more and more cars have joined on the hikoi."

On Wednesday, a group of protesters draped a "No Asset Sales" banner on Wellington's National War Memorial carillon.

- The Dominion Post

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