Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I had a few scary insights yesterday.
For ease of reading they will be split into different posts.

Number one was when I rocked up to the “Fire Paul Henry” demonstration outside TVNZ yesterday.
I was confronted with a medium sized (there were more people reporting, than in the protest) group of men frothing at the mouth, and occasionally into their beards yelling aggressive slogans into loud-speakers.
Most of them were carrying placards; few of them were related to the actual cause.
They were socialist union protesters and the boards varied from focused comments on the topic “Fire Paul Henry Now!”
To bizarre mixes of other campaigns. “Unions unite NZ; Ban racism.”
The slogans being yelled were loud, enraged, and frankly a bit scary.
There was plenty of spit flying through the air as aggression rang strong.
I leaned against a lamp post beside the media and eavesdropped.

“Good god, it’s the same banners and nutters from the protest last month, they just stuck 'fire Paul Henry' at the bottom”.
“Where are the normal people?”
“Clearly its only people who do this shit for fun that are enjoying getting up in arms about it”.

I watched and counted for around 30 minutes.
Over THIRTY FIVE people arrived in the area, stood on the outskirts, looked sad and left.
Most of them were wearing NZ t Shirts (as I was) and I suspect had planned to join the protest.
That would have not only doubled the numbers but also given it some credibility with Jo Public.

I suspect, like me, that they had no intention of standing by and allowing PH get away with marginalising yet another group of people and were making the most of the sway of public opinion to make their point.

To arrive and find that what you had thought was a human rights protest had three people from a human rights organisation (thanks to Global Peace and Justice Auckland) and a loud majority of angry, red faced, purple nosed, politically motivated men.

I don’t mean to undermine what they were doing. Every protest needs someone with a loud voice and a solid chant, but it was just too much to cope with, and it came across as them getting their rocks off being angry about something (could have been anything?) and undermined the fact that the issue is one affecting a wide range of Kiwis, not just the usual campaigners.

I was too scared to go and stand in the group.
One- I’m not a biggy for blatant aggression and you could smell the testosterone coming off the man nearest to me.
Two – I had no intention of being photographed or filmed by the media under a “socialist NZ” banner. I don’t like to parade my politics, and certainly don’t want to parade someone else’s!!

So after thirty minutes I admitted I was a coward, and fled.
Dinner did not taste good and I suspect the bitter regret flavour in my mouth was impacting on the butter chicken.

In case you were wondering, the insight was...
Im a coward.


  1. I can understand why Unite want to get their message across as often as possible. It's an important message. But it's unfortunate that by doing so they're stopping other people from feeling comfortable exercising their right to protest.I have seen quite a few people on FB call the Unite folks "rent-a-protesters" etc. And it's not a great look.

    In saying that I completely support Unite 100%. They're trying to improve wages when nobody else will.

  2. And by the way you're not a coward. At all. Don't think that. You're awesome for turning up when most people would just yell at their TV.

  3. That makes me sad, that you had such a negative experience. I've voiced semi-privately (on FB) my reservations about certain styles of protesting adopted by particular groups and how they exclude people from participating. Sounds like that's what happened yesterday. Stink.

  4. I've had a similar experience with some of this style of protesting several years ago (with the same people). I think there is a time and place for it sometimes, but it can also be super alienating for people. That was certainly my experience.


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