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October 11, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

The best dressed protests of 2010

It’s the last column of the year. Instead of me vaguely encouraging you to get active in various worthy causes, let’s sit back, pour a couple of G&Ts and survey the last twelve months of activism in Aotearoa. After much serious contemplating I’ve compiled a brief list of my top three protests of 2010:

3. March on the Israeli Embassy

Although not one of the biggest, this is a personal favourite. In June, after Israel killed 16 aid workers on a boat carrying supplies to Palestinians in Gaza, marches occurred around the world, including here in humble Wellington. I had never been involved in a protest focusing purely on social justice before, and the thrill was tangible. It was like some sort of epiphany in Amelie, where I realised my life’s purpose, albeit with messier hair and less crème brulee.

2. Camp for climate action Aotearoa ‘Day of Action’

Here I’m cheating a little. The inaugural Climate Camp Aotearoa took place in December 2009, just after the completion of the unsurprisingly disastrous international climate talks in Copenhagen. After five days of workshops and sustainable living in Upper Hutt, over 150 climate campers took to the streets of Wellington to protest against false solutions to climate change, namely carbon trading. There were blockades, arrests and misunderstandings over what exactly “Stop trading our futures!” meant. We marched down Lambton
Quay for half an hour, blocking traffic until the cops bodily pushed us onto the pavement. Yes, this protest gets five stars for fun, action and energy.

1. Anti-mining march (Auckland)

The biggest national protest in years. In May, over 40,000 people marched down Queen St to ask John Key and his devilish sidekick Gerry Brownlee not to mine our most precious national parks. It was pretty damn successful, resulting in Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel being removed from the mining short-list. The march was colourful and upbeat, or at least it appeared to be so. I wouldn’t know, having been stuck in Warkworth for the event’s duration. I was wearing a remarkable amount of pink tulle in preparation for my role as a radical cheerleader, and the bus driver must have mistaken me for a sulky pastel shrub as he drove by.

While these protests were all obviously dazzling, the red carpet of activism continues. The year’s not over yet; there’ll be plenty more occasions to dust off your placards, your D-Locks and megaphones and take to the streets. All frivolity aside, there’s a lot out there to resist: freedoms are being eroded, work rights withdrawn, racist television presenters abound. Like some sort of malicious gumbo, there are abundant and diverse opportunities to speak truth to power. What will your best-dressed protests look like in 2011?


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