Everyday Kiwi’s flooded in unprecedented numbers into the Logan Campbell Centre on Sunday afternoon for a political rally which was to result in the alliance of political newcomers the New Zealand Public Party and Advance NZ.
While similar political gatherings of mainstream parties typically comprise small crowds of party loyalists, this crowd was unmistakably unique in its composition of all corners of everyday New Zealand. Young children played in the aisles and proud parents worked hard to keep an eye on excited toddlers exploring and connecting to new faces. Attendees sang heartily to the live band with a deep pride and love for their country, a hopeful optimism for change rang through the air. The large New Zealand flag which waved in the middle of the room seemed a natural focal point representing this beautiful country of ours and all who call her home. This was a crowd that appeared not to be primarily interested in bureaucrats nor politics but rather making their voices heard in a call for true representation and a government that was of the people and for the people.
Billy Te Kahika, the leader of the New Zealand Public Party was eleven weeks ago persuaded by supporters to take a political stand for the re-establishment of secure democracy and the strengthening of human rights protection through a codified constitution. Widespread concern among everyday Kiwi’s regarding the dilution of human rights and the increased influence and control of international bodies over New Zealand’s governance and future were the catalyst for this people’s movement.
As tens of thousands quickly became hundreds of thousands of people engaging with online social media presentations, it seemed the people of New Zealand had found a means to make their views and voices heard.
In answer to the call, Te Kahika formed a political party called ‘The New Zealand Public Party’ and began to tour New Zealand engaging the groundswell of support. Rooms were packed to overflowing with hundreds attending in support and calling for change.
As the party registration cut off dates passed a significant dilemma presented itself alongside the meteoric rise of the people’s voice. How were an ever growing number of Kiwi’s going to find expression at the 2020 election?
Discussions began with other minor parties as the people made their voice clear, they had seen enough division, they called for unity amongst smaller parties and a consolidation of core policy. It became quickly apparent however why so many distrust politicians. The small parties with niche followings turned away from the voice of their supporters, instead pursuing their own interests above the will of their people.
In an eleventh hour deal to keep the movement of everyday Kiwi’s alive, Te Kahika signed an alliance agreement with Jamie-Lee Ross and Advance NZ and they made their announcement to the 2,000+ strong crowd.
The feeling amongst the crowd appeared to be one of initial confusion as they reconciled what was to become of their movement. While Ross holds similar political policy views to those the people had identified as key concerns, he also comes with legacy controversy which to some lies unresolved. Will Ross become a key asset of experience and connection to mainstream media exposure, or has the people’s movement been sold out to a political opportunist? Only time will tell.
The people’s movement faces a greater threat now than party alliance decisions, that being the conduct of corporate media and their ability to sway public opinion and as a result influence New Zealand’s democracy. While staying conspicuously silent as New Zealand was experiencing no doubt the fastest growing people’s movement in political history, corporate media in the most part put journalism to the side as they embarked on an immediate campaign to discredit the party alliance while playing down the level of support and attendee numbers in an attempt to marginalise the movement. Everyday concerned Kiwi’s were smeared as nothing more than delinquents of society, ‘conspiracy theorists’ and ‘anti-vaxxers’.
In many ways this highlights and validates the concerns underpinning the people’s movement in the first instance. The People’s once blind faith in the media and government appears to now be naive and misplaced. When the voice of the people in such unprecedented numbers can be deliberately undermined and smeared by a collective corporate media machine, ‘We The People’ must take note and ask an incredibly important question – who ‘really’ is steering the New Zealand ship, and where are they taking us?
By Eddie Freeman