The Ripple Effects of a Hikoi Questioning the TPPA

Guest Blog by Kristina Anglem

Rachel and her whanau are very good friends of ours. When she shared the news she was planning to walk to Wellington with her tamariki she said

“I just can’t not do it”.

So strong was her calling it was a matter of how, not if. I walked with Rachel and the team on the first day and am just back from spending the long weekend with them as they walked into Kaikoura. The week in between has been an interesting one for me as I have found Rachel’s Hikoi very thought provoking.

Why is she walking to Wellington, I mean really, Why? Having spent a few days with her and her team I have got a glimpse of what a challenge this is. The walking is the easy part, despite that being 20kms a day. There is the constant positive energy put into talking to and informing whoever she and the team meet along the way, the questioning of who else could be reached and how, the writing and updating on the digital front… and then there is the cooking and eating and sorting accommodation every night… and then there are Rachel’s three beautiful tamariki Rachel is also deeply dedicated to nurturing.

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Rachel has a hard working team around her which share the load but Rachel’s passion for the Hikoi means she is spread across all these tasks. I have three children of my own, 7, 5 and 2, and just doing the mothering part feels enormous. So, Why? What is the government doing with this TPPA that makes her feel so compelled? Do I really have a voice to sound my concerns with? She seems to. What are her/my concerns? You see now my thoughts get blurred, my questioning of her becomes my questioning of me. The ripple from the great big rock she threw into the sea just got one ripple bigger. While there are the people she and the team meet on route, there are those who know someone who knows someone. I can’t help but wonder what thoughts are being provoked by her walking with her children and the team to Wellington and how big the ripple effect is.

I believe you get what you put your attention on and so I have sought to think of the Aroha that is embodied in the walk and that results from the walk. I have shyed away from protesting ‘against’ things and rather tried to protest ‘for’ things. However it is clear to me that the world is one of contrast and sometimes you need to see the negative effects to better formulate a vision of the hopeful future ahead. The chant Gen lead us through as we walked down the main street of Kaikoura helped me see through the contras

Loyalty to our country
Cannot be achieved with the TPP

Honouring democracy
Cannot be achieved with the TPP

Equal opportunity
Cannot be achieved with the TPP

Strong & caring community
Cannot be achieved with the TPP

Holding fast to our sovereignty
Cannot be achieved with the TPP

“What does sovereignty mean?” my five year old asks me. To be honest I don’t know well enough to explain to him so I look it up. ‘The authority of a state to govern itself’ google tells me. “What?” he says. “The ability for us to make the rules for where we live” I say..

On the drive home my husband and I decide to actively focus on the contrast by posing the question: If we were to blow it, to stuff up where we live, what would we do? We think back over the last couple of days with the Hikoi team and some answers start rolling… throw rubbish out the car window was the first. As we walked along the road there were so many plastic bottles, tins, broken glass, bits of cars, even used nappies. We started by darting this way and that collecting and cleaning it up but 5km down the road we realized this was an enormous task not to be tackled on this Hikoi other than by becoming aware of it. Where does the rubbish end up? In the streams, rivers, sea, or buried into the earth for the next thousand odd years.

In order to blow it we’d pollute our waters and earth with rubbish and chemicals that would take decades to clear before we could grow and gather food again – despite all our wishes and needs. We would sign over the rights on how our waters and earth are treated to countries or companies far away that cant see the effects of their decisions. We would suck our lands dry of nutrients through over farming and over fish our seas. We would not utilize what we can grow and produce in our communities but rather send it away on fossil fuel transport to other parts of the world who in turn send what they grow and produce back to us. … We would care very little.

On the hopeful side I heard during this Hikoi that Fonterra had just shut down their dairy processing plant in Kaikoura. Overnight 150 jobs were lost BUT are about to be re established in some fashion by Clearwater, an organic dairy farm in South Canterbury. Clearwater is renowned for its beautiful yoghurt made purely with milk and culture, no reconstituted milk solids or additives, and the market for its products is growing. Organic land and animals are happy, New Zealand customers are happy, Kaikoura community is happy.

 

We stayed one night in Kaikoura on Takahanga Marae and one night at an off grid ‘batch’. The Marae had solar panels ready to be hooked up, the plush batch was fully solar. I found a business card inside for solar designs in New Brighton, Christchurch. Local sustainable technology. Wahoo! Rather than just discussing the question ‘what would we do if we were to blow it?’, we can discuss ‘what would we do if we were to save it?’

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I remember I loved being told I could drink water in the rivers if the water was fast flowing. I love swimming and fishing in our rivers and seas. I love seeing beautiful scenes of nature. I love connecting with and helping the people I see around in our neighbourhood and town and country.

Save it because I love it. Those words sum up where my thoughts have gone thanks to Rachel, and thanks to Gen and the team of people that are making what Rachel envisioned happen. In the words of Dr Seuss and the Lorax, UNLESS someone like you cares a whole lot… Kia Ora Rachel.

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