A monthly dose of hope

Covering June and July 2020

Kia ora e te whānau o ActionStation,

Lots has happened since our last monthly dose of hope. In this edition, we will be covering some of the incredible campaigning and community organising that has taken place over June and July.

So grab a cuppa, settle in and enjoy reading about all of the ways that our community have been working together for a thriving and Tiriti-honouring Aotearoa New Zealand.

🌠 Matariki magic 🌠

On a beautiful and starry night in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, I presented Labour MP Paul Eagle a petition signed by 30,000 people calling for Matariki to be made a public holiday.

Matariki is the Māori new year. It is a time to gather with friends and whānau to reflect on the year that has been, honour those who have passed, and celebrate new beginnings.

With the koha we received from ActionStation members to fuel this kaupapa, we were able to host a free and informative kōrero with Stacey Morrison, Professor Rangi Mātāmua and Qiane Matata-Sipu on Matariki and what it could look like if it were a public holiday.

We were also able to commission and publish independent polling that shows the majority of New Zealanders agree Matariki should be a public holiday. The idea is especially popular among young people, Māori and Asian New Zealanders.

News agency Stuff added their power to the call for Matariki to be made a public holiday and invited me to write about my experience facilitating my whānau through our first ever Matariki celebration. As well as that, our educational Matariki messages on Instagram were able to reach over 70,000 people!

Next, our petition will be referred to a select committee, which is a group of MPs that will consider our ask and make a recommendation to the government in the next election cycle. In the meantime, if you would like to support this kaupapa, you can contact the Prime Minister and let her know you support Matariki becoming a public holiday.

✊🏿 Black Lives Still Matter ✊🏿

As the world exploded in grief and rage after further police killings of unarmed Black people in the United States, Aotearoa felt the ripples reach our shores.

The murder of George Floyd sparked off a global resurgence in the call to protect Black lives in the face of 400 years of oppression. The pain and solidarity reverberated in countries around the world, who condemned the acts in Turtle Island and connected it to Black struggle everywhere.

Aotearoa showed their solidarity in thousands as vigils and rallies were held around the country. Local Black communities joined in unity with Māori and Pacific people to address racism in all of its forms. Te Whanganui-a-Tara saw the biggest march of the decade, where young African people led 20,000 people through the streets chanting:

“The future is hope, the future is change, the future is us.”

ActionStation joined forces with our sister organisations around the world to crowdfund and publish a global statement of solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter. Co-written with the Movement for Black Lives, it featured in the New York Times on June 19, or Juneteenth, the day commemorating the effective end of slavery in the United States.

On the ground, our Community Organiser, Kassie Hartendorp supported the leadership of local Black communities to organise the event, and I delivered a speech on the steps of Parliament. You can read the speech here and see the video of the rally from Third Culture Minds here.

ActionStation is committed to Black liberation here and around the world and will continue to work towards this kaupapa.

🍎 For our tamariki 🍎

For many families, Playcentre has supported generations of children to pursue creativity through child-led play. Playcentres help build a sense of community and support children and their families in transitioning to school.

When Sophie Handford heard that Playcentre funding was under threat, she launched an open letter that quickly gathered 16,000 signatures.

The overwhelming support from parents, teachers and former students lent strength to Playcentre’s General Manager Sean McKinley as he went into talks with the Education Minister. Days later the Government granted millions in urgent funding which means Playcentre now has some certainty to plan for the future. Well done Sophie and Sean!

Meanwhile, teachers at one of New Zealand’s biggest early childhood education companies, Evolve Education, used their people power to protect ECE teachers’ pay and working conditions.

Evolve were pushing their staff to sign unlawful new contracts that would have slashed their guaranteed working hours. NZEI Te Riu Roa teachers union launched an ActionStation petition that attracted media attention, pressured the Education Minister and forced Evolve Education to respond.

As a result of this combined effort from teachers, unions and the ActionStation community, Evolve decided all of their teachers can keep their existing contracts and get pay rises!

“Without the political and public pressure teachers have generated around this issue over the past week, I’m not sure we’d have seen this commitment.” — Paul Goulter, NZEI National Secretary

If you’d like to stay up to date with this campaign and learn how you can support, join the NZEI campaign here.

❤️ Decent income for all ❤️

Thanks to the generous donations of ActionStation members, we were able to commission independent polling that almost half of the people in NZ want everyone, regardless of their relationship status, to have access to decent income support.

This is great news for all of us who have been working hard to ensure everyone has what they need to thrive. It shows we are getting closer toward our goal of a welfare system based on dignity and kindness.

It’s incredible to think about all that we have done together over the last year:

  • 8,000 of us signed a petition that included urgent calls for benefits rates to be raised and Work and Incomes punitive sanctions and relationship rules scrapped.
  • Between ActionStation members and our partners at Child Poverty Action Group we have written and contributed to over 100 media stories putting the spotlight on the inadequacies of our current welfare system, and creating a platform for people with lived experiences to tell their stories.
  • 20 ActionStation members have met with MPs to put pressure on them to enact the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.
  • Over 650 of us have written and emailed our elected leaders urging them to take urgent action to unlock people from poverty.
  • We have run three rounds of Welfare Tautoko, a six-week program that trains people to have effective online conversations about economic reform.

This election we need to make sure unlocking people from poverty is a key focus for all political parties. With only two months until the election, we need your help to ensure everyone has what they need to thrive. Click here to make a koha to our welfare fund.

🌱 Planting seeds 🌱

In July, we teamed up with Courageous Conversations South Pacific to host a discussion on how to engage in impactful conversations about racism.

Our stellar line-up of speakers included Guled Mire, Dylan Asafo, Gaayathri Nair, Kat Poi and me. Between us, we shared whakaaro around how we can have conversations about racism with people we have relationships with, lessons from 18 months worth of experimentation having conversations about race with strangers online, how we can imagine a world without racial oppression and how he can use our voice to change institutional racism.

You can watch the webinar on Facebook or YouTube. Both have captions for our deaf whānau.

I also recommend checking out the following links to support your anti-racism learning journey:

  • Race Class Narrative Action. Research that uncovers why it’s important to talk about race and class together to build unified movements and shift hearts and minds.
  • Empathy does not mean endorsement. A fascinating TED talk by queer Venezuelan-American digital content creator Dylan Marron about the power of empathy.
  • The danger of a single story. A powerful TED talk by Nigeran writer Chimamanda Adichie about the importance of challenging single or dominant stories.
  • The roots of extremism. An insightful podcast where Vox founder Ezra Klein interviews Deeyah Khan, a British documentary filmmaker, about what motivates extremists and how we can challenge hate effectively.
  • Befriending radical disagreement. A podcast by Krista Tippett from On Being about a Jewish man who befriended an anti-semite and helped him radically change his views.
  • Words to win by. A series of short podcasts by messaging guru Anat Shenker-Osorio. The series looks at a range of case studies where campaigners and organisers have used great messaging to achieve progressive wins.
  • Time to dismantle our rotting house by Dylan Asafo for Newsroom
  • Are we finally paying attention? by Dylan Asafo for E-Tangata

When the team behind popular meme page Ngati Frybread asked for people to share their experiences of racism in school the response was overwhelming. Hundreds shared their stories and experiences which you can read here.

Now Ngati Frybread is calling for an independent inquiry into racism in schools, you can add your power here.

Elsewhere in the ActionStation universe, we are calling for an end to the discriminatory law that enables people to block Māori representation in local government. You can sign that petition here. Locals in Taranaki are also organising for better Māori representation in New Plymouth District Council and you can join their call here.

And last for this section, when the global conversation about colonial statues kicked off, we ran a survey and gathered the perspectives of over 500 Māori. We found that the majority of Māori (66.5%) would like colonial statues to be removed and almost everyone (96%) would like to see more public monuments and installations dedicated to honouring Māori pūrakau and people.

You can read the full survey results here, read the short version on TVNZ here or watch our panel of rangatahi speaking with Marae about this kaupapa here (you’ll need to create an account to watch, the panel starts at 8.45).

🌏 Imagining together 🌏

On a sunny winter day here in Wellington, 150 or so researchers, advocates, union organisers, freshwater scientists, NGO workers, teachers, lawyers, students, councillors, dreamers and doers gathered at Pipitea Marae to talk about solutions to the biggest challenges of our time.

You can read my write up on the event here. The TL;DR version is that politics is more than what happens in the Beehive and it is social movements that create real change.

In a month that has been marred by parliamentarians and their neverending raru, I think it’s important that our community stays focussed on pulling our vision of a fair and flourishing future towards us and not letting politicians get away with dividing our communities.

In this piece for The Spinoff, I write about some of the examples I have seen of unwavering solidarity across difference in my time at ActionStation and share some of the results of our survey on how we should regenerate from Covid-19.

🌊 Love our moana and awa 🌊

Seven months ago over 6,000 of us spoke up for the health of our beautiful Pacific ocean. Together we called on Environment Canterbury (ECan) to reject a dairy factory proposing to dump its wastewater into the ocean at Waimate, near Tīmaru.

The area the pipeline would go through has been proposed as a protected marine reserve. The pipeline would take wastewater into the coastline area which stretches from Tīmaru to Southland and is the habitat of Hoiho, Kororā and Hectors’ dolphins.

This week we took the chance to speak to members of the ECan Commission about our concerns about the pipeline. With the help of the donations from over 90 ActionStation members, we were able to hire an experienced environmental lawyer to help make our case. We also placed ads in the Tīmaru Herald and Ōamaru Mail to raise awareness with locals about the decision being made behind closed doors.

We want to take a moment to Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua, School Strike 4 Climate Ōamaru, and Forest and Bird for their work to protect the Pacific from this pipeline too.

If you would like to take action on this kaupapa, our friends at Forest and Bird have set up an easy-to-use email tool here at Protect our Oceans.

He taonga te wai is the belief that water is a sacred treasure.

Yet Creswell Limited, which is owned by multinational corporation Nongfu Spring, is seeking permission to extract 1.1 billion litres of water per year from the Awaiti Canal aquifer in Otakiri. The company wants to develop a manufacturing plant onsite with the capacity to produce 1,800 single-use plastic bottles per minute!

Over 20,000 ActionStation members have signed a petition to protect Otakiri springs from this corporate exploitation.

Now local iwi Ngāti Awa have united with locals to oppose the proposal in the Rotorua High Court. They argue the plan violates the mauri of the water at Otakiri Springs.

We wish Ngāti Awa strength and support in this important kaupapa.

That’s all for now!

If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, kudos to you! We hope you have enjoyed reading about these campaigns as much as we have enjoyed working on them.

With gratitude, aroha and determination,

Laura, Kassie, Eliot, Madeleine, Ruby, Ann, Yvonne, Andrés and Franklin the dog — your ActionStation team.

With special thanks to Nicole Hunt, Tumeke FM and Kassie Hartendorp whose photos feature in this email.



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Community campaigning organisation bringing people together to act in powerful and coordinated ways to create a fair and flourishing Aotearoa for all.