Monthly dose of hope: August 2020

Kia ora ActionStation family,

Another month (and a half) has flown by and so here is another instalment of hope. Wherever you are, we hope you’re safe, warm and well. These are strange times we find ourselves in, and looking after ourselves and each other has never been more important.

🌠 A victory for Matariki 🌠

Earlier this month, the Labour Party announced that, if they get re-elected, they will make Matariki a public holiday in 2022. They join the Greens who confirmed their support for a Matariki holiday in July and the Māori Party who have been advocates for a Matariki Day since 2009.

The announcement is huge news and it means that a Matariki public holiday will likely go ahead. Personally, I feel outrageously happy about that.

One of the reasons I launched the petition to make Matariki a public holiday was because neither my Mum nor my Dad (who are both Māori) grew up knowing what Matariki was. That makes me deeply sad and I want my kids, their grandkids, to grow up with Matariki as the norm — a public holiday will help make that happen. You can read more about my Matariki journey with my whānau here (that’s them in the photo above).

I also recommend checking out:

Finally, you may have seen that the public conversation about a Matariki public holiday has been divisive. Businesses are being pitted against Māori which isn’t good for anyone. If you’re a business owner in support of making Matariki a public holiday, I’d love to hear from you! Please email me on laura@actionstation.org.nz.

📽️ A Message From 2040 📽️

It is said that the first Pacific voyagers to sail to these lands visualised this place before they reached it. Wayfinders would imagine lands full of bountiful forests and rivers as the sun, sea and stars would guide them to navigate their waka hourua toward their vision.

Our ability to live and love in this land today is owed to our ancestors’ prowess in celestial navigation and creative imagination.

For the past 10 months, Madeleine and I have been working with JustSpeak and OpenLabs to create A Message From 2040. It is a powerful six-minute video that tells the story of how we become a society that gives everyone what they need while caring for each other and the planet.

You can watch it on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.

Sometimes the stories we’re told by certain politicians and corporations with vested interests make it seem like our future has already been written — one of division, pollution and punishment.

This video is an outright refusal of that future. It’s a letter to ourselves and our movement, reminding us that we have what we need to meet the challenges of our time.

We can work together to build a society where everyone has a roof over their head, food on the table, and time to spend with loved ones. It shows a future where we’ve transformed the justice system by shifting our focus away from punishment and towards prevention, restoration and repair. Where we’ve closed the last prison — for good.

You can also read about our process for making the video here.

💛 Whānau Wellbeing 💛

Wharepukapuka are places of wonder, imagination, beauty and safety for a lot of tamariki. School libraries support young people and their ability to learn, be well, think critically and develop empathy. Yet too many of them are being closed down as budgets are cut.

Librarians love their work and are speaking out — the national organisation SLANZA (School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) have launched a campaign on OurActionStation to save school libraries.

Join their call to restore funding, space and staffing so libraries can be resourced fully to continue to transform the lives of all students.

VOYCE — Whakarongo Mai is an independent advocacy group that works with, and for, children and young people in state care. They’ve launched a new campaign called ‘6 Promises for 6,000’ which asks all incoming MPs to make six promises to the 6,000 children in state care:

Watch Mana Williams-Ead and Tupua Urlich from VOYCE talk about their campaign on Breakfast and help these rangatahi achieve their goals by adding your support.

Here at ActionStation, we believe that everyone — without exception — should have a warm dry home.

The government was said to have ended homelessness during lockdown by opening up access to more emergency housing. But for many young people, homelessness is a problem that persists. Government-funded emergency housing providers do not have to take people under 18 into their facilities. This means that if you are under 18 and you need somewhere to sleep there aren’t emergency places available, simply because of your age.

In Aotearoa, over half of our homeless population are young people, yet the government has no strategy to respond to the complex and unique challenges that our rangatahi face.

Manaaki Rangatahi Collective, which is a coalition of groups working to end youth homelessness, help young people without homes find safe places to stay every day. They are now calling on the government to end youth homelessness for good by setting a clear strategy that meets the specific needs of young people and allocating the funding to make sure it happens. Add your power and let’s end homelessness for good.

University student Jess Dellabarca and recent graduate Noor have launched Rainbow Election 2020, a policy tool designed to highlight some of the most pressing issues faced by New Zealand’s LGBTQIA+ community.

Check out how all of the political parties stand in 15 policy areas across legal, health, education and community here.

🌱 Economic Fairness 🌱

There are levers within the grasp of politicians that can be pulled to rebalance our economy. Levers like making sure every family has enough to live on by increasing benefits and making sure the ultra-wealthy are paying their fair share by taxing hoarded wealth.

These levers are what stand between some of our families and a place to call home, or being able to pay power bills and put enough food on the table.

With our economy officially going into a recession yesterday, the election only five weeks away, and more and more people supporting wealthy individuals contributing more, thinking about who we want to control those levers is as important as ever.

Which is why at the election forum we co-hosted on Wednesday night, we asked each major political party if they would support four policies the evidence shows would help alleviate the pressure many people are under right now, and put us on track for a fairer and more equitable future.

At the event, 18-year-old Leilani Naufahu demonstrated the latest statistics of wealth inequality in Aotearoa using a pavlova.

“I used the kiwi favourite, a pavlova, because when I think of a thriving and equitable Aotearoa, it’s one where there’s enough pavlova and everyone gets a slice.”

“I think every person in parliament should care about fixing the shocking wealth inequality in New Zealand. I will only vote for those who said yes to my question.”

As Alex Brae wrote in his Spinoff article, Leilani thought the politicians weren’t engaging fully with the realities of those in the room.

“They looked wide-eyed and worried when I looked into their eyes. I could tell they cared more about reciting their party lines than listening to us and our stories. I wished they were ready to be moved and respond to what we were saying.”

At the end of the event, the 250 people who joined us via Zoom, Twitch and Facebook were polled to give their feedback on the party’s responses. The result showed Greens with a clear majority with 66.6%, TOP was next with 20%, Labour gained 11.4%, New Zealand First 1.9% and National didn’t receive any votes. You can read more about the event in this Stuff article here or watch the whole thing on Facebook, or on Zoom.

🌏 Thriving Papatūānuku 🌏

The coalition government has failed to deliver on its promise of banning new mines on conservation land or to protect Southern Coromandel from mining. As a result, last month the multinational mining company, OceanaGold, was granted a mining permit over more than 2,300 hectares. The area is known for its stunning native bush and is home to the world’s most endangered amphibian, the Archey’s frog. OceanaGold also has active exploration permits across thousands of hectares in the Coromandel Peninsula.

At the same time, OceanaGold has also just got permission to use productive farmland for another dam at Waihi to store the toxic waste from the new mines they plan to build. You can help protect conservation land across the country, and support local community group Coromandel Watchdog by signing this petition for a Moratorium (halt) on mining on more permits on conservation land.

Do you want to get more involved in the social movements sparking up around the world? Would you like to meet and hear more from the grassroots activists shaping our own country?

Our friends and staff are organising the fifth Social Movements, Resistance & Social Change Conference 2020 from 11–14 November. The theme is Activating Collectivity: Aroha and Power and is influenced by Indigenous movements in our own Pacific region. This is a chance to gather as activists, academics and anyone interested in creating social change. The event will be taking place in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington (Covid levels allowing) and online, so you can join from anywhere in the world. Registrations are open here, with different pricing options available.

Be prepared to be inspired, challenged and become a part of the incredible movements happening in our own backyard.

Finally, for the past nine weeks, and until the election, I have a weekly column at The Spinoff. You can check out everything that I’ve written here. These are the articles that have been the most popular:

With hope and love,

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

We work together to create a society where people and planet are more important than profit and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured.

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