Climate protests kick off as council issues disruption warning for Wellington
Climate change activism group Extinction Rebellion began four days of protest in the capital with an anti-colonisation rally at Te Papa on Labour Day.
Thirty protestors gathered at the museum’s Treaty of Waitangi exhibit on level four, demanding the English version of the Treaty displayed on large wooden panels be replaced with the direct English translation of the Māori version displayed opposite.
Te Wehi Ratana, spokesman for Extinction Rebellion and Te Waka Hourua, said Te Tiriti and the Treaty were two different documents.
“The issue is the majority of visitors will not understand the Māori version, and will look at the English version. They will leave thinking the English version is accurately reflecting what the Māori version says.
“We're trying to bring attention to the fact our national museum is misrepresenting history.”
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The protestors said Te Tiriti could guide governance in a way that sympathetic to the natural world.
An information panel in front of where the group gathered explains the differences between the two versions of the Treaty.
Extinction Rebellion is known as a climate change movement. Jen Olsen, a spokeswoman for the group, said action against the climate change, as well as other issues, needed to start with recognition of Te Tiriti.
“The reason why we started the week of action here is because we see telling the truth about the Treaty as the place to start when we are talking about the economic and social crisis we’re in at the moment.”
Te Papa spokeswoman Kate Camp said the organisation respected the protestors’ right to be heard and aimed to be as “calm and respectful” in its interactions with them as possible “while taking care of our visitors and the taonga entrusted in our care”.
“The safety of our visitors, staff and everyone in our whare is our number one priority. Decisions around security are made by our team based on the standard protocols we have in place.”
The demonstration had been peaceful, and the museum was able to stay open on Monday.
Camp said Te Papa management had not had formal discussions with the organisers, but protestors were giving staff a one-page document outlining their reasons for being at Te Papa.
The organisation became aware of plans for a protest to be staged at the museum when it was contacted by a journalist on Monday morning.
Wellington City Council warned people in the central city might be disrupted by various protests planned in the area from Monday to Thursday.
“The protest is expected to create some disruption in the CBD, particularly Wednesday 27 October,” the council said on social media on Monday.
On Tuesday protestors plan to occupy Te Aro Park from 11.30am, then make their way to Parliament to present a letter to the Prime Minister.
The protesters are demanding the Government stop investing in and subsidising fossil fuels immediately and adopt a four-year timetable to transition from using fossil fuels.
Wednesday’s protests aims to “draw a line on exploitation” by bringing attention to unsustainable land and seafood production practices.
There will be protestors dressed as cows dancing to disco music at Wellington Railway Station from 8:30am and a “Coal Tour” street theatre performance at Frank Kitts Park around mid-morning.
The last day of the protests on Thursday will focus on “Colonisation = Exploitation = Extinction” at Parliament at 11am.