‘Ceasefire now’ protesters march on NZ naval base, demand Luxon upholds Israel genocide court order

New Zealand protesters supporting Palestine today
New Zealand protesters supporting Palestine today marched on Auckland's Devonport Naval Base to deliver a "ceasefire now" and "hands off Yemen" message to the coalition government. Image: David Robie/Asia Pacific Report

David Robie also blogs at Café Pacific

From Asia Pacific Report

About 200 protesters marched through the heart of Auckland’s tourist suburb of Devonport today to the Royal New Zealand Navy base, accusing the government of backing genocide in the Middle East.

Demanding a “ceasefire now” in Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza that has killed almost 27,000 Palestinians — mostly women and children — so far, the peaceful protesters called on the New Zealand government to scrap its support for the US-led Red Sea maritime security operation against Yemen’s Houthis.

Speakers contrasted New Zealand’s “proud independent foreign policy” and nuclear-free years under former Labour prime ministers Norman Kirk and David Lange with the “gutless” approach of current Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

Among many placards condemning the New Zealand government’s stance, one read: “We need a leader not a follower — grow some balls Luxon”. Others declared “It is shameful for NZ troops to aid genocide”, “Hands off Yemen” and “Blood on your hands”.

Led by the foreign affairs activist group Te Kūaka, Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) and Palestinian Youth Aotearoa (PYA), the march was organised in reaction to Luxon’s announcement last week that New Zealand would deploy six NZ Defence Force officers to the Middle East in support of the US-led attacks on Yemen.

“We are appalled our government is dragging New Zealand into a new war in the Middle East instead of supporting diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza,” Te Kūaka spokesperson Dr Arama Rata said.

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Police guard at the entrance to Auckland's Devonport Naval Base
Police guard the entrance to Auckland’s Devonport Naval Base today. Image: David Robie/APR

‘Unpopular, dangerous move’
“This is an unpopular, undemocratic, and dangerous move, taken without a parliamentary mandate, or authorisation from the United Nations Security Council, which could further inflame regional tensions.”

PSNA secretary Neil Scott branded the New Zealand stance as preferring “trade over humanity!”

A child carrying a placard protesting
A child carrying a “blood on your hands” placard today protesting over the childrens’ deaths in the Gaza Strip. Image: David Robie/APR

He said that in South Africa’s case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) the ruling indicated “plausible genocide” by Israel in its war on Gaza and that state was now on trial with an order to comply with six emergency measures and report back to The Hague within one month.

“This is something that has been obvious to all of us for months based on Israel’s actions on the ground in Gaza and Israeli politicians’ stated intent,” Scott said.

“Yet [our] government refuses to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It refuses to take any action to oppose that genocide.”

Referring to the Houthis (as Ansarallah are known in the West) and their blockade of the Red Sea, Scott said: “Ships and containers heading to Israel — no other ships to be impacted.

“They [Houthis] state that they are carrying out an obligation to oppose genocide under Article 1 of the Genocide Convention. They will end their blockade when Israel ends the genocide.

The lines are drawn at Devonport
The lines are drawn . . . the “ceasefire now” and “hands off Yemen” protest at Devonport Naval Base today. Image: David Robie/APR

‘Oppose Israeli genocide’
“This is something every country in the world is meant to do. Oppose Israeli genocide — that includes Aotearoa.

“So what does Prime Minister Luxon, Minister of Foreign Affairs [Winston] Peters and Minister of Defence [Judith] Collins do? They decide to send our sailors to the Red Sea to defend ships — getting our Navy to be complicit in defending Israeli genocide.”

His comments were greeted with loud cries of “Shame”.

Scott declared that the protesters were calling on the government to “acknowledge New Zealand’s obligations” under Article 1 of the Genocide Convention; expel the Israeli ambassador until the genocide ends, and to “immediately rescind the order to send our sailors” to join the US forces “defending Israeli genocide”.

The protesters also called on New Zealand’s Defence Force chief Air Marshal Kevin Short and Navy chief Rear Admiral David Proctor to stand by the legal obligations of the Genocide Convention to oppose Israeli genocide.

Pointing to the HMNZS Philomel base as Navy officers and a police guard looked on, Green Party MP Steve Abel referenced New Zealand’s “proud episode 50 years ago” when the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk dispatched the frigate HMNZS Otago (and later the Canterbury) to Moruroa atoll in 1973 to protest against French nuclear tests.

He also highlighted Prime Minister David Lange’s championing of nuclear-free New Zealand and the nuclear-free Pacific Rarotonga Treaty “a decade later” in the 1980s.

Abel called for a return to the “courageous” independent foreign policies that New Zealanders had fought for in the past.

Today’s Devonport naval base protest followed a series of demonstrations and a social gathering in Cornwall Park over the holiday weekend in the wake of the “first step” success against impunity by South Africa’s legal team at The Hague last Friday. Other solidarity protests have taken place at some 17 locations across New Zealand.

Rallying cries near the entrance to the Devonport naval Base
Rallying cries near the entrance to the Devonport Naval Base today. Image: David Robie/APR
"Grow some balls Luxon" placard in
“Grow some balls Luxon” placard in the protest today at the Devonport Naval Base. Image: David Robie/APR
Green Party MP Steve Abel
Green Party MP Steve Abel . . . contrasted the Luxon government’s weak stance over the Middle East with the “proud” days of the Royal NZ Navy in protesting against French nuclear testing. Image: David Robie/APR


  1. Steve Abel and the other speakers at the Devonport rally may have drawn their audience to some wrong conclusions. Firstly, that politicians can lead the way to a moral foreign policy, and second that shouting slogans and waving flags while marching down the street can dissuade Israel and the Five Eyes states from engaging in horrendous acts of genocide.
    The truth is that the campaign against French nuclear testing and the follow up campaign for a nuclear free New Zealand were forced on the political establishment by a weight of public opinion manifested through campaigns of civil disobedience on the water and on the land.
    Similarly the New Zealand government pulled out of the Vietnam war not because it was genocidal (which it was) but because it was being defeated on the ground in Vietnam and at the same time had provoked mass public anger which sparked off demonstrations so large that they could no longer be controlled by the New Zealand Police, as well as acts of civil disobedience and eventually domestic armed resistance to the colonialist military forces.
    The current round of protests against the Gaza genocide are being led by people from Te Kūaka, Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa and Palestinian Youth Aotearoa and the Green Party who appear to have no experience of those earlier struggles, and little understanding of just how brutally amoral the colonialist regime can be. Their chant of “grow some balls Luxon” is exactly what we do not need. The leaders of these groups need to grow some balls themselves. They should move as swiftly as possible to acts of civil disobedience and explicitly dissociate themselves from the colonialist regime if they are to have any hope of forcing the New Zealand government away from the policy of genocide which it has followed on and off for the past 184 years. It would be ridiculous to wait for the next electoral cycle, because even if anti-war members form a majority in the house by the end of 2026, the war in Gaza will have already been won and lost by that time and the morehu of Gaza will either be refugees in Egypt, or will no longer be in need of our help.
    Lastly, the battle can only be won if those leading it subscribe to the principles of rangatiratanga. The coalition of groups which led the Devonport rally have a long way to go before they can be an effective force in support of the people of Palestine.


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