In contrast to the media frenzy I witnessed over the S92a Petition being presented at lunchtime yesterday, only a couple of media representatives were on hand to record this. At least Scoop posted something vaguely accurate – although there were more like 200-plus Tamils, including children in the count, which I confirmed by asking one of the organisers.

The combined Tamil communities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Palmerston North gathered in Wellington on Thursday (19th February 2009) to march through town and around to the British and Indian High Commissions, and the American Embassy, before arriving at Parliament to entreat the Government to issue a statement condemning the actions of the Indian Government in their military actions in Northern Sri Lanka against the Tamil peoples.

After waiting patiently while another group of petitioners were addressed on Parliament steps, the crowd stood waving banners and chanting “Free Tamil Eelam”, and “Help Us”.
Green Party MP Keith Locke came to address the crowd from the forecourt.

A dvd of footage taken during recent military actions against Tamil communities in northern Sri Lanka was being distributed to interested media, in order to show the kind of warfare occurring, and conditions in which the wounded and dying were being managed.
The hand-held, shaky images, with voiceover by the cameraperson, are powerful and ultimately very disturbing. There are no UN or Red Cross personnel allowed in Tamil-held parts of Sri Lanka, so there are few medical supplies, no adequate water or sterile situations for examining wounded and dying civilians brought to treatment stations.
The footage shows children screaming hysterically at the feet of sheet-wrapped corpses, traumatised by the bombing they have just survived, as much as the violent death of a parent just witnessed.
Children found by a camera operator, sitting in a dirt trench behind a collapsed house, the most minimal bomb shelter you can imagine, crying with fear and traumatised, waiting for older siblings or parents to return. Not leaving, because they have been trained to stay until they are told to come out …

More information about actions taking place in other countries at the links below.

British Tamils Forum
Canadian Tamils site


Come and meet craft activist and Melbourne resident, Rayna Fahey, here to give an inspiring and stimulating talk to fellow activists for one night only!

    the revolution is handmade

    the revolution is handmade

    Rayna Fahey from and the Melbourne Revolutionary Craft Circle will be facilitating a presentation on historical and contemporary radical craft action. Followed by a discussion on creative actions can be used for local issues.

    The award winning short film ‘I Wanna Live Here’ about radical craft responses to the Melbourne housing affordability crisis will also be screened.

    Koha on the door $10 for police and informants, towards the Oct 15th Legal Fund.

    Local crafters and bakers will be on hand with goodies for sale with profits going to the fund.

    All welcome

    Further information at : Oct 15th Solidarity.
    and radical cross stitch.

    Here’s some links from Rayna’s talk, to amazing craft artists from other cultures:
    Lisa Anne Auerbach, the V-monologues 10th anniversay yurt, here.
    Sara Rahbar, Iranian artist living in NY and Europe, here, scroll down through the whole page, it has awesome work done with flags and Iranian women’s traditional clothing.
    Betsy Greer, author of Knitting for Good, and the Craftivism website.

    For those who couldn’t make it to the evening, here’s the link to a podcast & slideshow up on Radical Cross Stitch, from the original Melbourne event back in September ’08. Enjoy!

    We had a blast, lots of people came, and the venue (New Crossways* in Roxborough St, Mt Victoria) was warm and welcoming. Cakes were sold & eaten on the spot, amazing an beautiful craft was admired and bought, ideas, friendship and networking were exchanged.

    Thanks to everyone who came, especially the ones I hugged & said “we’ll talk after the slideshow”, then didn’t talk to – it was lovely to see so many old friends at once!
    (VUW Women’s Group ‘old girls’, you know who you are!)

    [*Not to say that I’m over what happened to the old Crossways, which I lived across the road from for a while, but that’s another rant, for another year …]

Cath is in da House!

February 12, 2009

It was my utmost pleasure to sit in the public gallery, alongside many whanau, friends and collegues of Cath Delahunty, and hear her maiden speech in the House – a long time coming, but there at last.

The video, from Parliament TV, and the text of the speech, are here.

We all adjourned to the Caucus room in the Green Party suite in Bowen House afterwards, where speeches were made, refreshments were enthusiastically consumed, and much happy mingling occurred.

Cath and Jeanette

Cath and Jeanette

Gratuitous picture of Jeanette’s speech of welcome in the Caucus room.

Gifts were given, stories were told, and waiata were sung, and the various threads of Cath’s life as an activist, feminist, supporter of environmentalists, anti-nuclear campaigns, unemployed rights groups, disability activists, unions, teaching programmes and various trusts supporting women in hardship, were woven together.

Visitors from Tamaki, Tauranga, Whakatane, Ruatoki and Te Aupouri, as well as some locals of Whanganui-a-Tara, all gathered to share our esteem for this longhaul, hardworking, green-thinking dynamo, who has touched so many lives on her way to this place and time.

Kia Kaha, Cath, arohatinonui ki a koe.

The Sunday Papers have had a field day, following up on the stories about Maire Leadbetter and Keith Locke’s SIS files, which have dribbled on in the DomPost at a relatively slow pace for the past couple of months, and the exposure of Rob Gilchrist which came out about six weeks ago.

Anthony Hubbard at the SST has made some good points here, and the story has been mirrored, with slight variations over at the Herald on Sunday.

In a comment on the post at Indymedia a week ago, I jokingly suggested that every activist in NZ should request their file, to clog up the SIS admin systems.
The folk at Oct15th Solidarity have followed up on that in their latest newsletter, which is downloadable from the website, providing the addresses for anyone to write in and demand, as is their right under NZ citizenship, to have any information kept on them released. Invoke the Official Information Act, if you so desire.

Given that so far, they are known to have targeted politicians, eco-activists, animal rights groups, peace activists, and I dare say, those whose names have been attatched to policy discussion documents or website fora; if everyone who thinks they might have been a subject of investigation writes in, they could be tied up answering the mail for some months.
Finally, a use of public money that is transparent and accountable … 😉

Fashion fangirl finds Foon!

February 1, 2009

Yesterday’s Weekend DomPost had, in it’s glossy ‘your weekend’ section, a rather good article by Sharon Stephenson, about Laurie Foon of Starfish, a designer I’ve long been a fan of.
[My attempt to post the link has failed, as the stuff website seems to jealously guard the contents of the weekend magazine!]

During the last election campaign, her staff were unfailingly helpful if I was doing the rounds with posters or fliers to put in shop windows; and we often took a while, having a chat about new products they had in stock using recycled or sustainable produced materials, such as their sneaker lines and some of the new textiles that were coming in for summer.

I was a ‘Jive Junkies’ regular back at the turn of the millenium, and frequently had Sarah, the manager of the Cuba St store, send items back to the Starfish workroom to be altered to fit me perfectly. Never a quibble, just an attitude of ‘make it work’.
One time, I brought in a vintage ‘little black dress’, and asked Sarah if we could swing it through the workroom, before I wore it to a showing of ‘Les Miserables’ at the St James. Not only did she set that up, she also whipped out her pintin, heaved me into a dressing-room, and made sure that we had the dress pinned to the exact fit. Those were the days!

I was a fan for life, until the redoubtable Sarah was finally beaten into submission by the Left Bank body corporate, shutting her shop and heading back to hometown, Auckland.
However, my love of Laurie Foon’s designs has stayed with me, and I am frequently a ‘swing through’ at the beginning of the season to check out what’s new in fabrics and styles.

This year, as the article says, Starfish have a winter collection inspired by the Rita Angus Exhibition at Te Papa, curated by Jill Trelawney, who I interviewed about her biography of Angus. I can’t wait for this lot to hit the racks, and I imagine I’m going to seriously compromise my budget somewhere, because from the pix shown in the paper, this will be a lovely collection to own a piece or two from.

More about Starfish’s sustainable ethics here, from the Wellingtonian, and here, from the DomPost again, when Foon first began promoting her sustainability credentials.

I’m probably the fashion industry’s worst nightmare, in spending terms – I rarely buy on a whim, I prefer to buy directly from NZ designers, (most preferably local to Wellington) and I have made some spectacular wins in the Auckland sales in times past. And, god forbid, I occasionally sew my own designs up for special occasions, like the dress I finished at lunchtime on my graduation day, last year!

I’m a fan of vintage clothing, a trick I picked up from a few great set-dressers I worked with at one time. ‘Recycled Clothing’ has gained a cachet that old-school opp-shopping never had – and I both buy from, and donate clothes to, my favourite second-hand charity shop. (Opportunity for Animals, if you’re asking – branches in Newtown and Kilbirnie, all proceeds go to animal welfare projects in Aotearoa/New Zealand)

So, file this story under ‘fangirl’, ‘buy local campaigns’, and ‘Welli fashion celeb’s’, however you like; but do go and have a look at a designer who has put her ethics and her profits into the same (beautifully stitched) pocket, and manages to find a sustainable win-win even in the current recessional business climate.

Le Matt Juste

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