GUEST BLOG: Ben Peterson – TPPA or Democracy- All out Feb 4th

Despite a clear majority of the New Zealand public being opposed to the TPPA, John Key is set to sign the trade deal in Auckland on the 4th of February at SkyCity casino. This is an outrage, and a challenge. John Key is making it clear that he will side with multinational corporations against the working majority of people in Aotearoa/New Zealand- the question is how will people respond?

Online there has been a flurry of vigorous debate regarding violence. There are both pieces for and against riots at the casino. This focus on the relative merits of “violence” is a distraction for the movement and plays into John Keys hands at this critical time.

For one, the chances of a spontaneous riot on February 4th are very limited. Historically, riots are spontaneous outpouring of public outrage. As a general rule, a riot is not called in advance and openly advertised in advance. John Key and the police know this. The reason the police are organising “public order response” training is not mitigate a real threat of public disorder- it is an attempt to intimidate the majority of New Zealander’s into not attending any further protests against this trade deal.

Debate between activists for or against “violent protests” of the campaign miss the point.

Firstly, to argue against “violent protest” at rallies is at best unnecessary and at worst buys into the narrative the John Key is trying to create. It is a lie that the campaign has been violent to date spread by the government and its allies in the media. Accentuating the “peaceful nature” of the protests actually just validates John Key’s narrative. Buying into this discussion can help to distract from the protests message- that a clear majority oppose this trade deal.

In the second instance, those calling for an “escalation” in protest methods can also be wide of the mark. John Key is realistically not afraid of people dropping cow manure at MP offices, and the chances of the protests storming Sky City to stop the deal are limited to say the least. John Key is afraid of the political consequences or an organised majority holding him and his government to account on this, or other anti-popular policies.

John Key will be mobilising the police and labeling of protesters as violent. Organisers should seek to avoid unnecessary or unhelpful conflict with the police, but this is a decision that is largely outside of the control of activists. If there is a political direction to the police to crackdown on protests, they will do so regardless of the kaupapa or ‘family friendliness’ of an event.  These actions from John Key has been designed to divide the movement and intimidate others from being involved. The only effective defense against police violence it large, vibrant movements and popular support.

It is important that we do not turn on other activists- it’s what John Key wants. Instead the movement needs to find ways to move forward democratically, and relentlessly express the powerful truth- a clear majority of working people in New Zealand will not benefit from, have not been consulted in and actively oppose this trade deal.

Let’s channel our energies into four useful directions.

TDB Recommends


  1. All out for the TPPA at protests on February 4th– lets march on SkyCity and let John Key know what we think- do not be intimidated out of attendance.
  2. Lets pack out town halls up and down the country with Jane Kelsey’s tour this week.
  3. Following the call from up north, as many as possible should north to Waitangi to show John Key we won’t be finished easily.
  4. Even if this trade deal passes, it is essential that those who have got active through this campaign stay fighting, because every time a medicine cost goes up or every time a corporation dodges an environmental law- it will be another opportunity for us to fight, and even if we loose at the signing, we can win the battles to come.


Ben’s a long time socialist and a member of the Mana Movement.



  1. Ben, you misrepresent the positions of other writers into your arbitrary camps of those ‘for’ or ‘against’ violent protest.

  2. ‘Ring ring.’
    “Hello, is that you Chris?”
    “Sure is”.
    “Listen, it’s John here.”
    “Yeah John. You know. Your always raving about how marvellous I am.
    You’ve even given ‘Politician of the year’ a couple of times. Oh and by the way . Thanks for sharing the love and giving it to Bill last year. Much appreciated seeing as Winnie gave us such a spanking up North. I thought he would have been a ‘shoe in’ for the award just quietly, but I had a feeling you’d come through for us.
    Anyway I see you’ve been doing such a stirling job for us with ‘Rodders’ and ‘Dunks ‘ on Radio Joyce , ah I mean Live, over the last few years, and I was wondering if I could ask just one more small favour.
    We’ve got this TTPA thingy to get out of the way and I was wondering if you could have quiet word with your lot over on that dreadful ‘Daily Blog’.
    You know. Those earnest honest types who wouldn’t know a ‘market manipulation’ , or an insider trading tip if it jumped out and bit them on the bum. …suckers.
    Anyway , if you could ask them to be quiet, or better still , to just go away I would be eternally grateful.
    You see , I really don’t want Barack upset. We’ve got a wonderful golf buddy thing going and I really don’t want to risk being excluded from the super duper exclusive 19th hole club when I go home.
    Thanks mate . Knew I could rely on ya . I’ll make sure ‘Welds’ sends you a couple of bottles of his exclusive champagne.
    Stocks are getting quite low, as Gower , Garner , Hosks , O’brien and Sabin, have all been calling in the favours lately. The price you pay eh!
    Thanks once again mate. Might call again in a couple of weeks when that flag thingy needs sorting once and for all.
    Tootle pip , copulator. Learn’t that good bye from the Parnell ,Remmers set. They now think I’m sooo cool.
    Don’t be a stranger . Bye

  3. The Police are training in provocation techniques.

    The fact that they acknowledge doing so during the springbok protests notwithstanding, they would be foolish not to do so now.

    They’ll have their orders alright.

  4. I have heard a rumour that Key will move the signing to the Auckland Museum, it has tunnel access like Skycity but is said to be more defend-able. Does anyone have any information supporting this?

  5. Like a snake through a tunnel, eh? There will be more seniors at the protest than young. The committed ones, who don’t want their country stolen. Let’s hope the cops don’t find an excuse to beat up their grandparents.

  6. Regardless of there being no transparency, public involvement or democracy in the this process there still has been a process, which has answered questions and a sobering game of true or false.

    1The govt will only sign the agreement if dairy interests are met. FALSE
    2We will be open to investor state dispute settlements. TRUE
    3Will not sign tppa if it affects pharmac.FALSE

    You get my drift I’m sure the list goes on but it makes you wonder why they’re still in power.

  7. “Despite a clear majority of the New Zealand public being opposed to the TPPA….”

    You started with a lie and went downhill from there.

    The current government was voted in with a clear majority and joining the TPPA was one of their policies.

    That is how democracy works

  8. John key signing his treasonous “blank” deal, that can be modified, and as yet to be ratified by the big 6, technically, he is just ticking a box for his foreign US corporate mates, and to do this at National’s crony Skycity HQ, John key is giving all of New Zealand the F you finger as well.

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