My speech at Blackball 2010

Each year on Mayday, locals from the small West Coast town of Blackball organise a day of commemoration and celebration of the town’s past, and of political dialogue. For those of you who don’t know, the special importance of Blackball was that in 1908 miners from the town went out on strike to secure “crib time”, effectively a meal break. It was a hard-fought industrial struggle, but the miners were successful. The organisation required for the successful strike and political profiles forged in its heat led to the formation of the Federation of Labour (later the CTU) and ultimately the Labour Party. Hub of the celebrations tends to be the hotel named as “Formerly the Blackball Hilton” (think that’s the legal way to describe it!) where the walls are decorated with historic banners, photographs, newspaper clippings and the like, illustrating the proud history of the town and the movement it gave birth to.

It was my huge pleasure this year to be able to represent the Green Party in Blackball. Even though it’s physically close to where I live, it feels like a national stage. Others present included the Ambassador of Cuba, Labour MPs Claire Curran and Damien O’Connor, and my old friend and former Green Party MP Sue Bradford, as well as many other progressive people from both the West Coast and from around the country.

A highlight this year was the opening of a memorial to the 1908 crib time strike, developed by the team of local people who have been working towards the vision of a museum of working class history. A theme for the political discussions was how progressives can organise on the issues and principles that we hold in common, and both Claire Curran and I spoke after dinner on “A Progressive Agenda for the Next Decade”.

My speech was fairly wide ranging – covering the relationship between economy, environment, growth, climate change, peak oil, our Green New Deal and more!

9 thoughts on “My speech at Blackball 2010

  1. An excellent round up of some big issues, and ‘call to arms’ against the tory pricks currently running the country. Excellent speech Kevin.

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  2. “An excellent round up of some big issues, and ‘call to arms’ against the tory pricks currently running the country. Excellent speech Kevin.”

    better than this one:
    .
    “One of jh’s themes has been dis-satisfaction with the Green Party for not being specific about the outcomes of our policy in relation to the Treaty. “What, specifically, will this country be like if we go down this course?”. It’s a question I have heard many times over the years, and it usually speaks from a position of fear and insecurity for Pakeha: what if I’ll be worse off? or even what if there’s no place for me?

    I want to acknowledge that actually we are asking people to do something (and we are doing it too) quite different from what we usually ask with our policy. Normally we have a very clear idea of the outcome we are seeking, and establish a policy to reflect how we will get there.

    But the Treaty is different. The words all have the potential to sound pretty hammy, but fundamentally the outcome being sought is a process: the process of absolute good faith negotiation, in which we Pakeha engage from a position of honour – acting ethically and morally.

    That process involves courage because we don’t know the outcome (and because we know we have it pretty sweet just how things are, let’s be honest). It is pretty scary, but it’s also pretty damn exciting!”
    .
    Wot would the Blackball miners say about that? :roll:

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  3. Well said, Kevin, a very succinct summary of the Green kaupapa. If we can convice jh (and those like him) the wisdom of the views and ideas you expressed, we could provide our country with a real future.

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  4. @ Sprout – you’ve set a pretty high bar!

    @ jh – if you read the speech, then you would know that I touched on exactly this idea of facing up to Treaty-related issues with an intent to act honourably. Seemed to go down pretty well, actually.

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  5. Kevin Hague:
    “I want to say a few words about the Treaty of Waitangi. Around 1990 when we celebrated the sesquicentennial of the signing of the Treaty the then Labour Government had invested a significant sum in community education about the Treaty, and a genuine community goodwill was being built amongst Pakeha to not only settle historic grievances around land and resources but also to engage with Maori in an honourable, good faith way to negotiate what our Treaty relationship means today in a constitutional sense. Unfortunately that momentum has been all but lost, and our progressive agenda must rebuild it. Until we are able to do this these issues will continue to fester and blight our nation.”
    …..
    Bryce Edwards
    “Socialists should also reject the Treaty of Waitangi which, after all, was an instrument of British colonialism and gave legal sanction to a massive land grab. To claim that it was an honourable document is to distort history beyond recognition. What is often forgotten today is that quite a number of chiefs refused to sign the Treaty, aware that the British government was intent on annexing the territory and reducing Maori to “breaking stones for the road”. The Treaty was not inspired by goodwill and partnership but at the insistence of British capitalists who wanted to seize land and also prevent working class immigrants securing land independently. Furthermore, the Treaty enshrined the rule of the monarchy over New Zealand, putting all citizens in the servile position of being subjects of the Queen. This is completely incompatible with any notion of equality. (It might also be noted that similar treaties were pushed by the British in other parts of the world at the same time and for the same purpose; there is nothing unique to NZ about this Treaty.) ”
    http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2007/06/maori-liberatio.html#more

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  6. “*Unfortunately that momentum has been all but lost*, and our progressive agenda must rebuild it. Until we are able to do this these issues will continue to fester and blight our nation.””
    ….
    Thats right, but is it a bad thing?
    Interest in Treaty at dangerous low, says academic.
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/print.html?path=ED0701/S00037.htm
    as in
    Tariana Turia : Tribes Treaty Claims 1.5% of what was taken. Settlements can’t be full and final.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/ckpt/2008/09/05/waatea_news

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  7. Richard John Seddon got a lot of his support from miners in the south Kevin.
    A raconteur who got the Labour Party in Govt. for the first time.
    Great Days for many – the concept of arohanui is one kiwi post we should keep eh?

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  8. Excellent speech, best thing I’ve read today. Must’ve been a great event.

    So, we’re officially open for business campaigning for 2011 now?
    Right, I’ll have to get the ball rolling with gbloggers ;-)

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