SHAN Protest Against State Housing Sales

Article – Robert Kelly

The State Housing Action Network (SHAN) led a protest in Wellington today against the sale of state housing by the Government.

SHAN Protest Against State Housing Sales

Robert Kelly

The State Housing Action Network (SHAN) led a protest in Wellington today against the sale of state housing by the Government.

Photo by Olexander Barnes

At midday thirty to forty protestors marched from Civic Square to Parliament. They were accompanied by the sounds of the Brass Razoo Solidarity Band. Marchers carried placards bearing slogans such as “stop the war on the poor” and “stop selling state houses”. SHAN organiser Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati spoke. She said that “this policy is attacking absolutely the most needy” and that the actions of the current government were “deplorable”.

Jan Logie and John Minto were among the marchers and they were joined by MPs from the Labour Party, the Green Party, New Zealand First and the Maori Party when the protest reached Parliament.

New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell accepted the petition carried by SHAN and welcomed the protestors to Parliament. He said that he was glad to see people willing to “stand in solidarity with those who are going to be so sadly affected” by the sale of state housing. He also mentioned the TPP in the same breath which garnered him favour with the crowd. Mitchell cautioned that state housing “is the start of the big sell off”.

Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati Speaking at Parliament, Photo by Olexander Barnes

Then there were a series of speeches from representatives of communities affected by state housing sales from Tauranga, Gisborne, Invercargill, Pomare and Te Rāwhiti. Tuta Ngarimu spoke powerfully, saying for communities that had little already the sale of state housing would be disastrous. He said that without the state big business would step in and that “with big business comes the banks”.

Jan Logie, Annette Sykes and David Clark also spoke. Sykes said that the original intent of the state housing program had been to provide for “the poor, the dispossessed and the widows”. Clark also used the language of the mid-20th century housing debate citing the demonisation of an imagined “undeserving poor”. As Clark came to an end he said that the “the next centre left government” would change the management of social housing, a statement met with jeers by members of the gathered crowd.

Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati and John Minto wrapped up the speaking at quarter to two. Minto said that while it was a small group gathered today, it was one of a “very high quality”. He framed the protest as a declaration of intent saying that this protest was the part of a wider campaign.

Photo by Olexander Barnes

The protest ended with a mocked up auction of the houses of parliament. While there were several low opening bids John Minto won the auction with his late offer of a dirty handkerchief.

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