Mighty River Power seminar disrupted by asset-sales opponents
The stakes have been raised by Waikato Maori fighting the Government's planned partial state-owned asset sales, with protestors hijacking an investors' seminar in Hamilton on Mighty River Power's sale.
Scattering mock bloodstained US bank notes - "blood money" - at the feet of more than 80 mostly grey-haired sharemarket investors yesterday, three members of a group called "Mighty River People's Power" noisily took over the presentation by sharebroker Forsyth Barr.
Protester Alvina Edwards said the aim was to disrupt, and that the "coalition" would continue to do so in their bid to stop the partial asset sales.
Those at Forsyth Barr's free lunch seminar at the Hamilton Casino reacted angrily to the intrusion, yelling at the trio to leave.
Ms Edwards, a law student at Waikato University, urged those at the seminar to recognise the Maori Council's move to halt the privatisations while the Waitangi Tribunal decided on water ownership claims, and repeatedly declared "this is a shameful Government".
The trio urged those at the seminar to remember their taxpayer parents and grandparents who built the dams on the Waikato River.
They left after 10 minutes with Ms Edwards repeatedly yelling "shame on you".
Later, she said the seminar "confirmed fears that privatisation is not about ‘mum-and-dad' investors'." Of the roomful of people, only four were under 60, she said.
The Government claims sharemarket listing of 49 per cent of Waikato-focused Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy will be a potentially profitable investment opportunity for Kiwi mum-and-dad investors.
Ms Edwards, of Hamilton, said she was of Ngai Tahu descent, and had married into Waikato Maniapoto.
The coalition would hold "rolling protests" against the sales whenever there was an opportunity, she said.
Main speaker Forsyth Barr head of research Rob Mercer, visiting from Wellington, said he had never experienced such an intrusion. Forsyth Barr planned more information seminars nationwide, and would reconsider arrangements for them, another executive said.
The Government hopes the privatisations and reduction of its majority stake in Air New Zealand will raise between $5 billion and $7b for investment into "high-priority assets", such as hospitals and schools.
Legislation allowing the sales was passed last month by Parliament, provoking a storm of protest by Opposition parties, unions and a Grey Power rally for signatures to a petition to force a citizens-initiated referendum.
- © Fairfax NZ News