Transcript: Marama Davidson – Stop the GCSB Bill Meeting – 19/08/2013

Maori activist and blogger Marama Davidson addresses the audience at Stop the GCSB Meeting, Auckland Town Hall, Monday 19th August 2013

Nga mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa he mokopuna ahau o nga iwi o Ngati Porou, Nga Puhi, Te Rarawa hoki, no reira tena koutou katoa *

Kia ora everyone my name is Marama Davidson and I am speaking to you tonight as a social justice advocate who also happens to be a Maori woman and a mother [audience claps].

State spying is nothing new for Maori or indigenous peoples around the world [audience claps].

The way that state spying powers have been used to trample on innocent people around the world has always being an injustice.  This Bill, this threat to our privacy and democratic freedoms did not just start today.

Other groups often targeted by state surveillance include environmental groups, human rights and social justice activists, peace activists, those fighting for independence from oppressive rule, and certainly indigenous rights groups [audience claps].

So I am thankful tonight for an opportunity to remind us of this historical injustice in relation to further state powers being granted in that same direction. 

I urge all New Zealanders, to consider that this abuse has never been good and it won’t be good for any of us now as the tentacles of power extend their reach over more of us.

Some of the laws that we already have – never mind any new ones being proposed – are an offense to the rule of law in every way that they have being enacted when it comes to targeting groups.

The Tohunga Suppression Act 1907 and the Suppression of Rebellion Act 1863 were made arbitrarily and to smooth Colonial oppression over Maori.

In 2007 the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Act was post ‘Operation 8’, as the wonderful Jane [Kelsey] has alluded to, where the Police acted unlawfully, unjustifiably and unreasonably during those armed raids.  They impacted on innocent children and whanau in Urewera.  

The GCSB Bills is just more of the same rubbish rushed legislation and should not be seen in isolation of the ongoing smearing of particular groups, communities and organisations.  Continuing – continuing with this Colonial history in the GCSB debate, Dr Leonie Peihama reminds us of the shameful invasion of Parihaka in 1881 [audience claps].

Her ancestors were branded rebels; land stolen to advance Colonial invasion and people unlawfully imprisoned for seeking justice.  Te Whiti O Rongomai, Tohu Kakahi and the families of the Parihaka community faced whatever the equivalent monitoring and surveillance of the day was then, despite their peaceful actions and intentions.

It is too easy to dismiss the historical blight as just that but unjustified targeting, monitoring and surveillance has continued to today. 

This very hall you are all sitting in right now is on the land of Ngati Whatua and the Mana Whenua  iwi of Tamaki Makaurau [audience claps].

Bastion Point Takaparawhau itself is a glaring point of legislative harassment.  We recall people in our living memory also, such as Maori leaders Syd and Hana Jackson who suffered ongoing harassment from Government.  Today there are two many of our social justice fighters who have been subject to unfair and discriminatory state surveillance – as a country we have not stood next to them and demanded the return of their democratic freedoms – but I am mightily glad we are all here now [audience claps].

I mentioned indigenous rights groups, as the global market economy seeks to gain power, [T]TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement), over the planet’s resources the uprising of indigenous peoples around the world becomes so important.

 As the custodians of land and water, indigenous people, alongside environmental groups, and just concerned citizens are seeking an end to the unsustainable exploitation of our living systems and to have their sovereignty affirmed.   In doing this, we are affording protection to the planet for all peoples [audience claps].

But this stand has again cost many our democratic freedoms when it comes to spying and Government harassment.

For example Filipino young people are facing an education system that is geared towards multi-national corporations and denies their indigenous heritage and identities – when indigenous youth voiced these concerns they faced various harassment, including surveillance.   The Canadian Government continues to monitor the activities of aboriginal people who resist incursions on their indigenous rights and territories.  The ‘Idle No More’ movement was borne last year in response to omnibus legislation which effectively removes indigenous peoples’ rights over their own lands.

Canada’s Government and its spy agency closely monitored the activities of that movement – what is even funnier – is the spy agency tried to claim it was doing so, not over fear of protest getting out of hand but to protect the activists from potential violence. Question mark? Hundreds of years of history simply laughs at that assertion.

But it is no laughing matter. 

Whether or not you even agree with the stances of such groups who have been targeted, they all have a democratic right to express themselves and associate them without fear of unreasonable search and seizure.

So how can New Zealand remain independent and truly be a leading Pacific force?

I like Seeby’s [Woodhouse] list where we have being number ones. 

This morning I released a blog about my children being part of street protests – given that my own parents met as protesting teenagers on the 1970s steps of Parliament this is a natural progression for me and mine.  My youngest four year old child often accompanies me on such campaigns – there’s one Maori woman here tonight – I’m going to take this.

I wonder if we are giving John Key a good enough head start to get her search warrant written up because you can bet your life I am committed to teaching her to stand up, not just for her rights, but for the rights of others [audience claps].

 The real threat to our national security is not someone like her.

I can’t wait for the day when as New Zealanders we actually fill this hall with politicians, lawyers, families, communities and activists, and say something like,

“No one is leaving here until we have a solid understanding that the wellbeing of New Zealander children is the absolute priority across all decisions made [audience claps].”

We could become actual leaders of the world if we were to resolve the issue of rights instead of jumping to spy on everyone.  We could be true protectors of the security of our nation if we stopped with the assault on our democratic freedoms for a start.

If we were to show the planet we are assisting the global change that is needed for stronger communities, and supporting families to be the best contributors they can be, this would hold us in good stead.  There are legacies for our children waiting to be manifested by us but our leadership is bland and not courageous at all.

It is the current leadership which is the biggest threat to our national security.

Thank you.

Download transcript pdf: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Marama Davidson

* Warm greetings to all of you, I am a descendent of the iwi of Ngati Porou Nga Puhi and Te Rarawa, therefore greetings to you all.

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