Article – Megan Gattey

More than one thousand protesters marched on Parliament to voice their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal in Wellington this afternoon.Anti-TPPA protest in Wellington (with photos)

Story and photos by Megan Gattey

Protesters marching down Lambton Quay.

More than one thousand protesters marched on Parliament to voice their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal in Wellington this afternoon.

The protest marked the end of the TPPA Action Week, in which thousands of people around the country banded together to protest the TPPA.

The march started at Midland Park at 1pm and ended at Parliament.

President of the Tertiary Education Unit Sandra Grey spoke to the protesters at Midland Park.

“I think we should tell these jokers to walk away,” she said.

“This deal has been in negotiation since 2005. It has been in negotiation behind closed doors.”

Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati of the Mana Party also spoke to the protesters before the march. She said signing the deal would be nothing short of treason.

Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati of the Mana Party speaks at Midland Park.

“They know in the light of day this would be voted down,” she said.

It’s Our Future spokesman Edward Miller said the group’s message was simple: “TPPA Walk Away”.

“This deal is not in New Zealand’s interests and we are telling the government it is time to walk away,” he said.

Peter McDonald, 7, at Midland Park.

Peter McDonald, 7, and Keir McDonald, 5, at Midland Park.

Protester Denise Lockett from TPPA Action Whanganui made it to the protest even though her car burnt out in Paraparaumu.

Denise Lockett with one of two quilted signs made by TPPA Action Whanganui.

A woman at the petrol station offered to give her a ride to Wellington.

She said she was frustrated by the potential endangerment for future generations.

“This is an injustice to the country and its people. How dare they sell us off,” she said.

Protester Karl Pearce of the Pirate Party said the TPPA would not benefit New Zealanders and that the government should back out of it.

Protester Karl Pearce of the Pirate Party.

“I’m here with the kidnapped Obama. I am here for freedom. I am here for liberty and I am here for justice. The TPPA is not just a trade deal. It will take all of those things away,” he said.

Protester Pete Kaye said he was there because he went to a talk in 2010 that showed him the dangers of corporate control.

Protester Pete Kaye.

“It just seemed to me that we were following the argument that any trade is good trade. But any economic trade deal comes at a price,” he said.

His poster had been donated to him by the anonymous artist behind Toothfish. The artist had left the poster at a printing store for Kaye, with the simple request to make good use of it.

Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati of the Mana Party leading the march to Parliament.

Documentary film-maker and investigative journalist Bryan Bruce spoke when the protest reached Parliament, saying Tim Groser needed to behave like an adult.

Bryan Bruce outside Parliament.

“Democracy to our Trade Minister is simply inconvenient,” he said.

“If they sign this deal, we will not forget and we will not forgive them. What’s on the table is human misery.”

Protesters at Parliament.

Protesters at Parliament.

Protesters at Parliament.

Protesters at Parliament.

Other protests have taken place in more than 20 centres nationwide today, including Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The US Consulate General in Auckland warned US citizens to avoid the march from Aotea Square to Commerce Street at 1pm in Auckland today, saying it could potentially turn sour.

“Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.”

Source: Russel Norman’s Twitter

Source: Martyn Bradbury’s Twitter

The 12 countries included in the agreement failed to arrive at an agreement during recent TPPA talks in Hawaii, leaving the deal in a precarious position.

John Key said recently, however, that he was confident an agreement that looked out for the best interests of New Zealanders could still be reached.

The 12 countries that would be bound by the agreement, if it were to pass, are the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

To find out more about the TPPA and where it currently stands, Bryan Bruce said he recommended this article by The Age economics editor Peter Martin.

Protesters at Midland Park.

Protesters at Midland Park.

ENDS

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