"You know what? I agree with what you were protesting, but there is a time and a place. This was not it. The poor people who worked hard to put on something lovely for our wee community, the KIDS who practiced so hard to do their part, ruined. I heard the picketing from my house and was really sad that this sort of thing happened in our quiet town."
I wrote back:
"You know what, Katie, I appreciate what you are saying here. This was a very difficult decision to come to. It is so much more personal to join a protest in in our own small town, especially because I know how important this Town Hall opening was for us all. I was always going to attend the Town Hall Opening myself, not as a protester but as a citizen of this town. Especially because I am not going to be living here much longer. I only found out that the protest was happening the day before and I spent a sleepless night, will I, won't I. Hadn't even made that decision until after I got there. But let me explain this. I'm getting older all the time. I'm a mother, a grandmother. I won't be here forever and I so strongly feel that I want to try, try very hard to leave this world going in a better direction than it is now. For my children that I brought into this world, for my grandchildren, for you and for your children. this government is fouling our environment, it is dumbing down our education system, and with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, it is selling away our sovereignty, yours, mine, and the futures of our children and grandchildren (cos you will have grandchildren too, one day). For me that is terribly important and this was an opportunity to stand there, in front of Key, and let him know what I felt about that. And I took it and I make no apology for doing so. I would also like to correct one thing from the article linked here. The protesters were not "drowned out" by the children's Kapa Haka (and incidentally the children were awesome). The protesters stopped calling out during the children's singing out of respect for the children. Kia ora."
After a time it was decided that the main portion of the Town Hall which had been part of Oxford since 1931 would be saved but strengthened. This is an imposing building in Oxford, a strong statement of the solidity of our township. However, the add-on rooms and kitchen were too expensive to save and the town would be better served by knocking those parts down and rebuilding. Which is what they've done and we have all been watching with great interest from the outside, as our town hall has appeared to keep its character but grew more beautiful.
So finally we have come to the morning of the re-opening of our town hall. I was so looking forward to going in to see it but then was horrified when I heard that John Key, our corrupt and deceitful Prime Minister of all people had been booked to open the hall. It almost stopped me going down but I realised, as I wrote above to Katie, that this might be my last chance to see inside the building before I leave for Christchurch.
And then I read on Facebook, just the day before on our Waimakariri Greens page, that a protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was being organised. Because it is important to keep up the opposition to the signing of this agreement which will take away our sovereignty in our own country. What this agreement means for us, is that we cannot object to any product that a global corporate or any corporate from somewhere else in the world might want to sell here. For example, we might wish to make sure that genetically-engineered (GE) seeds might not be planted anywhere in Aotearoa, we might wish to grow organic crops instead, but the TPPA obstructs us from taking decisions like this. Under the TPPA the Global Corporate, Monsanto maybe, for example, can sue us for billions and trillions of dollars for obstructing their right to Free Trade within our country. We simply can't afford to pay out such vast sums of money, nor can we afford to fight such a case. We really won't have money to feed and educate our kids under such a scenario. This is what is being sold here, our right as a country, as a people, to control our own destiny. And there are several versions of this agreement being pushed all over our world. If - and I must say if, it is too terrifying to think when - these agreements are all signed, then our world will be run, not by a democratically elected global government, but by Global Corporates. That is what we are fighting and why it is important. And why it is so important to keep trying to raise awareness of this issue, to educate people about the TPPA and to let John Key know, at every opportunity, that we will not roll over and let him sell off our futures and the futures of our children, and our grandchildren.
Meantime, inside the Town Hall, John Key laughed it all off. So funny after all. On the video clip below is his "in depth" and misleading explanation of the TPPA. Tailored to his audience of farming folk of course.