Over a dozen governments in the Asia-Pacific region have been secretly working on a trade agreement called the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). They have finally released the nearly 6,000 page document detailing its contents and are likely to seal the deal soon. So we should just accept it is over and done with and move on to something else? No doubt the government here and in the other countries would like that, but thousands in this country organised in continued opposition to the TPPA on Saturday, November 14th.

In Rotorua approximately 80-90 rallied against the TPPA. As in previous rallies, a wide range of people were represented, including political groups, indigenous activists and families concerned for their children and future generations. A noisy hikoi took place through the CBD, unaccompanied by any police presence, thus allowing participants to control the route and pacing of the action. Chanting kept spirits high throughout the duration of the march and leaflets were handed out to curious bystanders, some of whom joined the marchers.
When the hikoi returned to the initial rallying point, the crowd listened to a number of speakers and were then treated to live bands.

There were some definite positives to the day in Rotorua. Firstly, it was encouraging that so many people continue to see the value in opposing the TPPA at this late stage. Often political campaigns begin to suffer fatigue or a feeling of hopelessness, but clearly there is still plenty of disquiet about this particular deal. It was also good that despite the presence of at least one MP and other wannabe politicians, the main focus was upon ordinary people having the opportunity to share korero and build links with each other.

On the downside, the general tone of the opposition to the TPPA was couched in populist and nationalist terms. There was a lot of talk of preserving the land for ‘kiwis not foreign corporations’, the need to keep company profits in ‘our country’ not send them offshore and appeals to ‘our government’ etc. This kind of rhetoric is why those with a truly transnational anti-capitalist perspective should intervene in such rallies. By joining in we can offer a different view. There is no ‘national sovereignty’ in a world where bosses exploit workers regardless of nationality. The only solution is to cross artificial boundaries and for working people here and everywhere else affected by the TPPA to join together against the same universal ruling class. Hopefully in time our view will gain ground if we keep talking to and organising with others at the flaxroots level.

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