Hope in August in Aotearoa

People powered change — a roundup

Welcome to your monthly dose of hope!

As always, we’ve rounded up what our community and collaborators have been working on for the past five weeks for your reading enjoyment.

Grab a cuppa, take a seat and have a look at how everyday people have been uniting in action for a better tomorrow.

People from all around Aotearoa are working together to ensure everyone in New Zealand has what they need to live great lives.

Collage of workshop participants in the five different workshops.

We all want children in New Zealand to experience a thriving, happy childhood. But too often that doesn’t happen, despite parents’ best efforts.

We’ve had a long period of low wages, eroded benefits, high housing costs and rising food prices.

At the same time, people in government have under-invested in key services that help the lowest income families — services like public housing and income support.

Instead successive governments have prioritised policies that help the already well-off — property speculators being the obvious example.

Throughout August, our Economic Fairness campaigner Ruby has been training ActionStation members to meet their MPs and ask them to fix poverty in this country so all children and their families have what they need to thrive.

Workshop attendee Andrés said,

“The workshop gave me great tools to prepare for my meeting with my MP as well as ideas on how to approach and advocate for the change I want. The group was very fun, friendly and I felt we were coming together for a good cause.”

Because we need as many people as possible to get behind this important kaupapa, and the feedback from workshop attendees has been so positive, we are planning more workshops in September. Central Auckland on Sunday 15th, 11.30–1 pm, Saturday 21st September, 1–4 pm, Online on Wednesday 18th September, 6–7.30pm. You can sign up to a workshop here.

We know this government is passionate about addressing child poverty, and while we support their initiative to trial providing lunches in schools, we also know that until we ensure parents aren’t in poverty, there will continue to be children in poverty. You can read our full response in this RNZ article.

Finally, we are going to be delivering our petition, including the urgent call to raise benefit levels to ensure all families and children have what they need to unlock life’s opportunities, to the Prime Minister’s office on the 23rd of September. If you haven’t yet, please sign and share the petition here.

Tauiwi Tautoko volunteers are building a kinder, more compassionate country and world.

26 brand new Tauiwi ready for action at the Wellington hui on August 10th

Thanks to grants from Dr Emily Beausoleil and Netsafe, we are currently running free 10-week training programmes in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

We weave together online learning and in-person gatherings to provide volunteers with the tools, community and courage to participate in online conversations about Māori, people from refugee backgrounds, NZ history and Te Tiriti with evidence-based listening and messaging techniques.

We are in week four of the program with 72 new Tauiwi taking turns wading into those gnarly comments sections. Our Facebook group now has 138 active members with volunteers from previous cohorts still doing their bit as well as supporting new members through the process.

It’s heartening to see those numbers as it finally feels like a big enough community to counterbalance the amount of hate we see online.

Screenshot of our Tauiwi meeting online

Next, we are developing ‘Tauiwi Tautoko’ into an e-learning program so that individuals, and organisations who want to replicate the process, will be able to take advantage of the learnings in their own time. This will allow us to scale our impact and share the aroha (love).

You can read more about our approach here: How ActionStation trains an army of keyboard warriors to promote love over hate on Mobilisation Lab.

Hundreds of people walked from Ihumaatao to the Prime Minister’s office to invite her to the whenua (land).

Kaitiaki from Ihumātao begin their hikoi to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office. Photo by Kassie Hartendorp, ActionStation.

In August, the kaitiaki (guardians) and protectors of Ihumaatao led a 20km hikoi from Māngere to Mount Albert to hand deliver an invitation to Jacinda Ardern.

The invite was hosted on OurActionStation and carried the aroha (love) and awhi (support) of 26,633 people encouraging the Prime Minister to walk the whenua, and experience the kaupapa of Ihumaatao firsthand. This is the most recent action in a long-running campaign to protect the 800-year-old sacred heritage landscape.

After braving the wind, rain and hail, the kaitiaki arrived to their destination for a powerful ceremony to hand over the invitation. The road outside Ardern’s electoral office became an ātea (open area usually in front of marae), filled with karanga, karakia, haka, waiata and whaikōrero (traditional calls, chants, songs and speeches) as a group of tamariki (children) handed a giant invitation to office staff in Ardern’s absence.

The whānau at Ihumaatao still wait for the Prime Minister to visit.

ActionStation would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this kaupapa so far.

Donations are still welcome to support the whānau. You can also send an email to Jacinda Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson or Auckland mayor Phil Goff here.

Young people are stepping up all around the country to change their communities and world.

Our Community Organiser Kassie addressing the room in Wellington

This month in Wellington, ActionStation hosted the first of three workshops for young (and young at heart) changemakers and activists. Gathered in Thistle Hall on Cuba Street, we shared inspirational stories of campaigns run by rangatahi (young people), brainstormed creative and bold tactics, and learned what it means to grow our power through organising.

This was a great chance to build understanding, connections, and trust across the different and interconnected kaupapa (issues, causes) young activists are working on. We wove together strategies for campaigns and organising our communities, developed strong messages to motivate people to take action, and learned how to ensure our values underpin everything we do.

At the end of the day, one young person shared the reflection that campaigning and organising is a solution to the chaos of now, and an antidote to powerlessness.

Our workshop in Hamilton

We then taught the workshop again in Hamilton with 30 more young (and young at heart) people. A huge thanks to our local partners Seed Waikato, Living Wage Aotearoa and YWCA for hosting us.

Our movement is strongest when we work together and build diverse and thriving ecosystems for change. That’s why supercharging the power of young people to create change in their communities for a flourishing people and planet is so important.

To make them as accessible as possible, the workshops are free for anyone to attend. Can you chip in now to keep these workshops going and make them as impactful as possible?

We are learning from the #BlackLivesMatter to change our unjust drug laws.

Our Director Laura and DeRay Mckesson, one of the cofounders of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Five years ago, DeRay McKesson quit his job as a schoolteacher, moved to Ferguson, Missouri, and spent the next 400 days on the streets as an activist, helping to bring the Black Lives Matter movement into being.

In August, I was lucky enough to interview DeRay for an event hosted by Verb Wellington promoting his book On The Other Side Of Freedom: Race and Justice in a Divided America. We talked about the power of organising and the importance of relationships, hope and imagination. We talked about protest as truth-telling, and how often you’re telling the truth to a public not quite ready to hear it.

A powerful message that resonated deeply with me was that as organisers, activists, community members and everyday people — we need to be asking for the world we know we deserve, not the world we think we can get.

Unfortunately, the kōrero (conversation) wasn’t recorded but you can listen to DeRay’s podcast Pod Save The People on most podcasting platforms.

On Monday 16 September, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement Patrisse Cullors, Executive Director of Break the Chains (USA) Deborah Small and organiser and author asha bandele, along with local justice advocates will gather for an important discussion on the so-called “war on drugs”.

“We say that it’s a war on drugs, but it’s not. It’s a war on people.” — Deborah Small

This will be an opportunity to learn from those on the frontline of justice transformation in the USA, hear their stories, and unify for change.

Facebook event here.

More information on the website here.

Grassroots groups are taking on big oil… and winning!

Photos of Fossil Free UOA in action

On Friday 30th August 2019, after five years of campaigning from 350 Aotearoa and campaign group Fossil Free UOA, the University of Auckland committed to divest $224 million fossil fuels.

This decision sends a clear signal to the fossil fuel industry that our centres for future learning do not support the continued exploitation of our environment and fueling of climate destruction.

The University of Auckland now joins Victoria University, the University of Otago, and over 1,000 other institutions across the world, including dozens of universities, in dropping their fossil fuel investments.

Globally, this accounts for $9.94 trillion (USD) in institutional wealth. Grassroots activists are taking away the key pillars the fossil fuel industry needs to grow and survive: their social licence, their political licence, and their money!

If you would like to take meaningful climate action, School Strike 4 Climate NZ are holding a third strike to demand our Government and elected members take urgent and meaningful action for the climate and our collective future. New Zealand students will be uniting with students from across the world once again but this time, in a general strike with the general population. This general strike is on Friday, 27th September. You can find a strike near you here.

That’s it for now!

As always, thank you for all that you do for a fair and flourishing Aotearoa. We hope you enjoyed this long but inspiring read!

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ActionStation

ActionStation

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