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From Garage Collective: As the centennial of the First World draws near, more and more celebrations (yes, I have heard that word used) are beginning to rear their head. Under the snappy banner of WW100, events, projects, and cultural heritage institutions are revisiting the First World War—some to shed new light (such as tweets from the diary of farm labourer during the war), and some to propagate dated myths. It will be an interesting 4 years in terms of the narratives being told, and while there has already been the inclusion of the ‘dissident’ perspective in the form of a TV One movie, I am not holding my breath when it comes to discussions of the causes of the First World War (or its end for that matter, in the form of workers refusing to fight any further). At the NDF Conference I attended last year WW1 projects were talked about as ‘honoring those who had died for freedom’, as if the imperialist line sold to the public in 1914 was alive and well.

However there is one website that I’ve been trawling for interesting analysis, and that is noglory.org. No Glory in War is an UK initiative based on an open letter calling for the centennial to promote international co-operation. The website has a range of articles, videos and other resources and is well worth your time.

My own work on the IWW and anarchism in Aotearoa has flirted the edges of the First World War home front, and talks I gave last year were much more focused on this radical syndicalist opposition. It is an aspect of research I’d love to continue in the future (time permitting), especially the aftermath during the 1920s (the OBU, railway strikes, the homeboat strike, deportation, censorship etc). Although the conscientious objector is being re-framed in the public eye, I think it is also important to acknowledge the worker radicals, absentee ‘defaulters’ and army mutineers who fought their own kind of class war. And this war did not start in 1914, or end in 1918. Again, I doubt that the neat four year package we are about to consume will do this counter-narrative any justice. So pick your site of struggle and step into it—the record will be better off for it.

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White Poppies will be sold at the front steps of the Wellington Railway Station from 7am to 8.30am, and from 4.30pm to 6pm, on Tuesday 22 April. They can also be ordered from White Poppies for Peace email whitepoppies@ymail.com

The white poppy is an international symbol of remembrance for all the casualties of war – civilians and armed forces personnel – and of peace. Information about the white poppy is available at http://www.whitepoppies.org.nz

Sales help fund the White Poppy Peace Scholarships, These are awarded each year to assist with the costs of research into: the impacts of militarism, militarisation and warfare; alternatives to militarism, militarisation and warfare; or media coverage of militarism, militarisation, military deployment and / or armed conflict.

 

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 19 Tory Street, Wellington.

Local, national, and international speakers! Books, books and more books! A week of anarchist fun, make your plans now! More information coming soon!

If you are interested in booking a table or organising  an event please get in touch, wellingtonanarchistbookfair at gmail dot com.

The website is here: http://wellingtonanarchistbookfair.com/

Philip_Josephs_anarchistA Jewish tailor and fox terrier owner; a Wellington carpenter and staunch family-man—not your typical anarchist-cum-bomber stereotypes. Yet one hundred years ago today, Philip Josephs and Carl Mumme were two founding members of the Freedom Group—one of New Zealand’s first anarchist collectives.

“Although the image of a cloak-and-dagger figure dressed in black springs to mind” notes Jared Davidson, author of Sewing Freedom: Philip Josephs, Transnationalism & Early New Zealand Anarchism, “anarchists such as Josephs and Mumme were everyday people. They were active in their trade unions, on the street corners, and in their communities.” What set them apart, says Davidson, was “their critique of coercive relations, wage slavery, and a vision of a more equitable and humane world.”

The Freedom Group was formed on 9 July 1913 at Philip Josephs’ tailor shop, on the first floor of 4 Willis Street, Wellington. “A matter that should have an effect in clearing the somewhat misty atmosphere in this city is the movement to form an Anarchist Group in Wellington,” wrote the radical labour newspaper, the Maoriland Worker, “for it will provide those who accept the Anarchist philosophy with the place where they belong… we understand that this will be the first Anarchist group formed in the history of New Zealand.”

Little material exists on the Freedom Group and its members, but as Davidson argues, “the emergence of the Freedom Group in 1913 signified a real advance in New Zealand anarchist praxis.” As well as importing popular pamphlets from the around the globe, the Freedom Group held regular discussion nights on a range of radical topics.

“So popular were these talks” writes Davidson, “they were soon moved from Willis Street to the larger Socialist Hall at Manners Street.”

On one night in September 1913, 120 people attended an anarchist social event the likes of which had never been seen in New Zealand. Billed in the “form of an Anarchist-Communist society, where one is equal to another, where no criminals, no officials, and no authority exists,” attendees could enjoy short speeches, readings of prominent authors, recitations and musical entertainment, “enjoying for at least one evening the benefits of a perfectly free society.”

Freedom Group co-founder Josephs was also involved in the Great Strike of 1913—another centennial marked this year—by expressing “his views publicly from a platform in the vicinity of the Queen’s wharf.” Rumour has it that the Freedom Group also engaged in running scraps with special constables during the strike.

Josephs had been in constant contact with notable international figures such as Emma Goldman since 1904. Later, during the First World War, it was letters to Goldman and the distribution of anti-war literature that saw the home and office of Josephs raided by Police.

Carl Mumme, a German naturalised in 1896, also felt the wrath of the National Coalition Government. In May 1916 he was taken from his workplace and interned on Somes Island due to his anti-militarist views. The ex-Freedom Group speaker was finally released back to his wife and five children in October 1919—11 months after the war had ended.

According to Davidson, this and other anarchist activity shows that “the activism of Josephs and others like him, whether from the soapbox or through the mailbox, played a key role in the establishment of a distinct anarchist identity and culture in New Zealand and abroad—a culture that emerged and enveloped simultaneously around the globe.” Not only did anarchists exist in New Zealand; they were a part of some of our most tumultuous industrial disputes, and conveyed a uniquely radical message to workers across the country.

“At the very least, the Freedom Group was obviously a visible and vibrant feature of Wellington’s working class counter-culture, and the facilitator of thought-provoking (maybe even politically changing) conversation.”

The Freedom Group’s struggle for social change—for a society based on people before profit—linked New Zealand to the global anarchist movement of the day. It also signaled the first of many anarchist collectives to play a vibrant part in the history of the New Zealand left.

http://sewingfreedom.org

Beyond Resistance member Kim McBreen was on a panel with Fetu-ole-moana Tamapeau and Maihi Makiha on “Takataapui, Pasifika ways and beyond queer theory” at the C.L.I.T. fest in Wellington. This is the text  from that presentation.

Ani Mikaere and Moana Jackson say it’s important to start from the beginning, so I’ll start somewhere near where they tend to start.

I want you to imagine a line in front of me. This line stretches out past the arrival of my European ancestors, past the arrival of my tūpuna Māori, all the way to creation. It also stretches out behind me all the way to eternity with no milestones because we can’t see into the future. This line represents the knowledge and wisdom of generations, what Whatarangi Winiata calls the mātauranga continuum.

Imagine just in front of me, there’s an intersecting line. That line represents colonisation. When you imagine this line, I think it’s helpful to remember the scene from Psycho with the knife—because colonisation brings with it western cultural imperialism, which is the denial of anyone else’s knowledge or tikanga. Colonisation is trying to break the continuum. It seeks to cut our knowledge off from our past, by denying we had laws, let alone philosophies or an intellectual tradition. And it seeks to cut off the possibility of the continuum carrying on, by replacing our mātauranga with Western understandings. Our colonisers would have us believe that our knowledge is exactly what Europeans recorded when they arrived, no more and no less. We are supposed to believe that the Western academic tradition can better understand and represent mātauranga Māori than a Māori academic tradition can. Whether we’re talking about Western trained researchers 200 years ago, or now, somehow they’re supposed to have a better take on the truth than anyone else. And finally, we are supposed to believe that authentic mātauranga is fixed in time at that point when the colonisers arrived. It didn’t develop from anything before then, and it can never develop beyond that point.

Those distorted views of our mātauranga have endured since the colonisers started their project, but our traditions have also endured. We can use them to ensure that instead of cutting us off from our knowledge, colonisation is just a tiny blip on our continuum. As Ani Mikaere has said “While our experience of colonisation has been devastating, its impact should not blind us to the fact that it has occupied a mere moment in time on the continuum of our history” (Mikaere, 2009). And that’s where Ahunga Tikanga comes in.

Ahunga tikanga is about ensuring the integrity of the mātauranga continuum, fixing up the damage of colonisation and allowing our mātauranga to continue to develop.

There are five statements that sum up what we believe:

  • We have faith in our tūpuna. Faith that they did things intentionally, and that those intentions were good
  • We have faith in our mātauranga—our oral traditions: creation stories, whakataukī, and mōteatea. Our tūpuna had generations in which to understand their rohe. They experimented, and learnt the important skills and values in making and maintaining the relationships that they needed, and they embedded that knowledge in those oral traditions
  • tikanga is the first law here, and it is the only legitimate law here
  • Whakapapa is the philosophical framework of tikanga
  • Colonisation has led to imposter tikanga through cultural imperialism

This last statement is acknowledging that because of colonisation, some of the stuff we think of as tikanga mai rā anō is actually of recent origin, and doesn’t reflect our mātauranga. It may actually reflect the values of our colonisers, or the stories they told about us. This is especially true of issues like gender and sexuality, where the cultures of the colonisers and the tangata whenua were really different.

So if we look to our oral traditions, our mātauranga, what does it tell us about gender and sexuality?

First of all, there’s a heap of different creation traditions we could talk about. If you look at the stories lots of us grew up with, based on Pākehā writers like George Grey, it looks like our tūpuna were as revoltingly patriarchal as Pākehā. For example, Ranginui and Papatūānuku’s romance sounds like a rape scenario, she gives birth to a bunch of male children, the males make a female out of dirt, tāne has sex with her, she gives birth to a daughter who becomes the first woman, tāne has sex with her, she finds out he’s her father, flees in shame to the underworld, etc. This is a typical playing out of a western male-female dichotomy. Most Pākehā writers wrote stuff like this, and theirs are often the most commonly known versions.

But that’s not how my people talk about creation. In Kāi Tahu traditions (for example, in Te Maire Tau, 2003), Rakinui has other partners, and Papatūānuku is with Takaroa before Papa gets together with Rakinui. Takaroa goes away, Raki and Papa hook up, Takaroa comes back, fights with Raki, Takaroa wins, and goes away again. I like this tradition, because it so reflects the world of our tūpuna—the going away and coming back of Takaroa. You can see why they understood Papatūānuku as having a relationship with both Rakinui and Takaroa, because that’s how the land sits, surrounded by sea and sky. I’m interested in whether Rakinui and Takaroa have more of a relationship than rivalry—because if Raki and Papa look intimate, Raki and Takaroa look even moreso.

And then you have the creation traditions of Tainui waka. Pei te Hurinui Jones (2010) talks about how Ranginui had partners other than Papatūānuku, that they were both bi-sexual, and that Ranginui gave birth to several children. Tāne-mahuta also has sex with another male atua, Kahukura, who gives birth.

There’s lots there to think about, but it’s not my tradition to speculate on. I just want to show you that the traditions as tangata whenua know them, show complex understandings of both gender and sexuality.

You can see that monogamy is not privileged. You can see that males are not especially privileged, you can see that heterosexuality isn’t necessarily privileged, and the more you look at them, the more you can see that neither gender nor sexuality are fixed.

I’m going to stop here, because I don’t want to use up any more time, but I have a couple challenges to you. The first is explore your indigenous creation traditions, wherever you’re from. Find out what your tūpuna had to say about the world before their traditions were swallowed up and reinterpreted through a narrow-minded patriarchy.

The second is, wherever you live now, support tangata whenua. Support their organisations, support tikanga solutions. Don’t try to be an expert on them. Be prepared to learn from tangata whenua instead of critiquing or trying to teach them. For example, if you want to learn about tangata whenua, if you want to learn te reo, or Māori law, don’t go to a colonial institution where our mātauranga is understood within a western tradition, at best relegated to an offshoot of anthropology. Instead, support your wānanga where mātauranga is central. Think about whose culture you privilege when you are organising. When you’re doing things like setting up safer spaces policies, think what it would mean to prioritise indigenous culture. What does a Māori safer spaces policy look like?—is it something you can do? What would you have to change to make it possible in the future? At the very least, it’s going to mean making sure you’ve got meaningful relationships with tangata whenua.

There’s a heap of really valuable stuff in our traditions, they hold generations of knowledge and solutions to problems that the west is only just starting to recognise—like hetero-patriarchy. The less energy tangata whenua have to put into defending our right to cultural survival, the more we can put into invigorating our traditions, exploring them for their diverse and unique solutions to problems we are facing. That’s something we should all be supporting.

References
Jones, Pei Te Hurinui 2010 King Pōtatau: an account of the life of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero the first Māori king (Huia Publishers and the Polynesian Society, Wellington and Auckland)
Mikaere, Ani 2009 ‘How will future generations judge us?’ Mā te rango te waka ka rere: Exploring a kaupapa Māori organisational framework (Te Wānanga o Raukawa, Ōtaki)
Tau, Rawiri Te Maire 2003 Ngā Pikitūroa o Ngai Tahu: The Oral Traditions of Ngāi Tahu (University of Otago Press, Dunedin)