Peace activists blockade weapons expo in Tāmaki Makaurau

  • Auckland

Peace activists have blockaded the entrances to the Viaduct Events Centre to stop an international weapons conference taking place.

Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms dealer & a maker of nuclear weapons, is the primary sponsor of the conference.

"This conference is about how companies can better make money from wars, disasters and human misery. We think this is abhorrent. This is why we taking direct action to stop this conference," says Auckland Peace Action spokesperson Virginia Lambert.

"We've got people from across the country blockading - young and old, Māori, Pacifica, Asians and Pākehā peoples and visitors from overseas, teachers, engineers, librarians, nurses, students, labourers, and many others - who have all come together for one reason: to stop war profiteering."

Faisal is an Iraq-born migrant who has lived in Aotearoa for almost 20 years. He is involved with Racial Equity Aotearoa, and does research with Arab and Muslim communities.

"On a personal level, as a Muslim Iraqi, I'm appalled at the fact that our government is happy to celebrate and normalise a culture of militarism that perpetuates war and causes so much destruction and misery in places we once called home".

The international weapons industry recently came under scrutiny in Aotearoa when it was revealed that a number of Kiwisaver investment funds had invested in overseas arms manufacturers involved in the production of controversial armaments including nuclear weapons, cluster bombs and landmines.

Radio New Zealand reported that default providers Westpac, ANZ, BNZ, ASB, Kiwibank, AMP, Mercer, Grosvenor and Fisher Funds had invested in the arms manufacturers.

Minister of Commerce Paul Goldsmith indicated that New Zealand laws banning such weapons or aiding their manufacture could mean such investments were illegal.  Goldsmith deferred to police to investigate.

All default Kiwisaver providers have now dropped or are in the process of dropping their investments in companies that manufacture armaments.

The weapons conference blockade also coincides with the first visit to New Zealand shores by an American warship, the USS Sampson, since becoming nuclear-free in 1984.

American naval vessels, operating under a policy of non-disclosure of nuclear capabilities, have not docked in New Zealand since David Lange’s Labour government adopted the policy.

Aotearoa's nuclear-free policy also effectively removed New Zealand from the ANZUS military alliance.

The USS Sampson has been diverted to assist with the Kaikoura earthquake response.