TPPA Roadie Job Done

Review Of The TPPA Policy Solution Campaign

- Greg Rzesniowiecki

This marks the end of a series of articles on the TPPA local government campaign which Greg has been writing for us since 2014. As he says in this article, it all began when he accompanied Jeremy Agar and myself around the country on my 2014 national speaking tour. I asked Greg to give an overview of that sub-campaign within the campaign against the TPPA, for this Watchdog. CAFCA actively backed Greg’s work (we put a bit of money his way now and again) and congratulates him on his work which involved years on the road, living out of his van and on the smell of an oily rag.

The local government campaign was very successful and built on the model that the late Larry Ross* used in the 1980s to get local bodies to declare their cities/towns/regions to be nuclear free. The work of Greg and the innumerable people that he activated and worked alongside is a perfect illustration of a dynamic and successful grassroots campaign in action. It played an honourable role in the national and global campaign which defeated the TPPA. Good work, mate! *My obituary of Larry is in Watchdog 130, August 2012, MH.

The TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) negotiations grew out of the earlier P4 (Pacific 4) trade and investment treaty between New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Chile. I have developed the view that the TPPA needed to be seen both as a problem and as an opportunity. Any problem must be viewed as a challenge in order for appropriate solutions to be found. Burying our heads in the sand over it is not a sane option.

This report concentrates on the campaign to convince local government to engage and consider a specific policy formula to direct central Government negotiators to protect the public interest. As the TPPA negotiations closed and the signing took place the activist movement responded, we were busy developing new policy responses that spoke to the process we believed necessary to allow informed democratic decision making to occur.

Introduction – Greg's Role In The Project

This article outlines the history of the public interest TPPA policy, and secondly the work I undertook with and to encourage locals to take the lead lobbying the policy to their councils. To undertake this exercise, I have lived “on the road”, camping in my Toyota Liteace van, “Tinkerbell”. She's now deceased as of late 2016. Since then I have had a loan of Lisa Er's campervan, until around the end of March 2017. Thanks for the loan Lisa, it's been a nice home.

I came to be a dedicated activist from around February 2014 and exhausted my own surplus of cash by June 2014. Since then I have relied on the generosity of sustainers and sponsors to continue this lobby and public advocacy project. That continues to this day and into the future with your support. Incredibly I have been sustained for three years. A bank account is provided at the conclusion of this article for any who might care to contribute - cheers for that. I need a new van – you might assist? About $4,000 would cover a reasonable second-hand replacement van.

TPPA Policy – How Did It Come To Be?

The TPPA policy solution (as it came to be known – cheers to Steve Maddock for the name) has a unique history. I played no role in its initial development, nor in the lobby of the first two councils who adopted it. I was a part of the crowd when it was presented to the Nelson City Council in July 2013. My role developed from later in 2013 as the lobby shifted to the Tasman District Council (TDC).

The initial draft of the policy was written in Wellington by well-known economist (and CAFCA’s very own) Bill Rosenberg, from the Council of Trade Unions (CTU), who was asked by Labour Party member Pat Bolster, “what would New Zealand need to look out for in TPPA negotiations to protect our public interest?” Bill drafted that from his extended researches into the trade and investment treaties, their agenda and implications. The draft policy was adopted by the Labour Party's Wellington Region 4 policy conference in early 2012. It was sent to the national body for consideration at the Labour Party Conference in November 2012.

Labour’s TPPA Policy 2012

The Auckland round of TPPA negotiations in December 2012 followed closely the November Labour Party Conference, which carried two remits critical of the TPPA process. The first of the two remits identifies strongly the public interest in response to trade and investment treaties in a general sense, and deserves a careful read as it identifies the beneficiaries from the trade and investment treaty agenda:

Labour Party 2012 Remit 34: Trade Agreements

THAT Labour adjust its policy in relation to trade agreements, given the on-going negotiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, by agreeing that from now on Labour will oppose initiatives and agreements that try to force international harmonisation of policy in areas like intellectual property, public services, pharmaceuticals, investor/State relations and so on, ON THE BASIS THAT such matters are rightly reserved for national decision in recognition of the sovereign right countries have, and should maintain, to organise their own societies and economies as they see fit, AND THAT attempts to globally over-regulate social and economic life through selective trade agreements outside the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) frameworks are usually aimed at imposing the demands of powerful countries on the rest of the world, and bring the whole system of global governance into disrepute.

The second remit (drafted by Bill Rosenberg) outlines the public interest to be protected by TPPA negotiators acting on behalf of New Zealand. This remit was also carried.

Labour Party 2012 Remit 35: Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement

THAT in light of the Labour Party’s strong commitment to both the benefits of international trade and New Zealand’s national sovereignty, and recognising the far-reaching implications for domestic policy of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, in which trade is only a small part, Labour will support signing such an Agreement which:

a) Provides substantially increased access for our agriculture exports to the US market;

b) Does not undermine Pharmac, raise the cost of medical treatments and medicines or threaten public health measures such as tobacco control;

c) Does not give overseas investors or suppliers any greater rights than domestic investors and suppliers, such as Investor/State Dispute Settlement, or reduce our ability to control overseas investment or finance;

d) Does not expand intellectual property rights and enforcement in excess of current law;

e) Does not weaken our public services, require privatisation, hinder reversal of privatisations, or increase the commercialisation of government organisations;

f) Does not reduce our flexibility to support local economic and industry development and encourage good employment and environmental practices;

g) Contains enforceable labour clauses requiring adherence to core International Labour Organisation conventions and preventing reduction of labour rights for trade or investment advantage;

h) Contains enforceable environmental clauses preventing reduction of environmental standards for trade or investment advantage;

i) Has general exceptions to protect human rights, the environment, the Treaty of Waitangi, and New Zealand’s economic and financial stability;

j) Had been negotiated with full public consultation including regular public releases of drafts of the text.

Here we see the democratic rank and file of the Labour Party clearly identifying the importance of getting trade and investment treaties to support domestic imperatives and arrangements. It is of note that former Labour Leader, and now Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff, then told that November Labour Party conference “that it was for the Executive and MPs to determine when the policy is to be implemented”. The Labour Party Conference in November 2012 was only a couple of weeks before the Auckland round of TPPA negotiations.

Those negotiations were at the Sky Tower Convention centre and were met with protest action calling public attention to the secret negotiations being conducted by the then 11 nations (Japan joined in May 2013 to complete the 12 nations). This Wikipedia article ( provides a timeline of the TPPA negotiations, culminating in its agreement done at Atlanta US on  October 5th,  2015 and the signing done in  Auckland  on February 4th,  2016

Auckland Council Considers TPPA And Draws A Line In The Sand

Auckland City Council had had an Economic Forum on 13 November where it made the following recommendation to its Regional Development and Operations Committee:

That the Economic Forum:

a) Receive the Presentation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Free Trade Agreements.

b) Thank David Walker, Deputy Secretary Trade and Economic Group, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the presentation.

c) Recommend to the Regional Development and Operations Committee that Council encourages the Government to conclude negotiations in a way which provides net positive benefits for Auckland and New Zealand.

It was recommendation c) which was amended with the addition of 12 points that defined the New Zealand national interest and that went onto become our TPPA policy solution. The final decision was carried by nine votes to seven – a thin margin. Here it is in full, made generic to enable universal application to NZ councils and with the addition of the phrase “and biosecurity” added into clause 10 of the policy that we ultimately proposed to all local government bodies.

TPPA Policy Solution For Local Government Consideration

That (name of Council) encourages the Government to conclude negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement in a way that provides net positive benefits for the (name of local region or city) and New Zealand, that is, provided the Agreement achieves the following objectives:

  1. Continues to allow the (name) Council and other Councils, if they so choose, to adopt procurement policies that provide for a degree of local preference; to choose whether particular services or facilities are provided in house, by council-controlled organisations (CCOs) or by contracting out; or to require higher health and safety, environmental protection, employment rights and conditions, community participation, animal protection or human rights standards than national or international minimum standards;
  2. Maintains good diplomatic and trade relations and partnerships for (local region) and New Zealand with other major trading partners not included in the agreement including with China
  3. Provides substantially increased access for our agriculture exports, particularly those from the (name of) region into the US Market;
  4. Does not undermine Pharmac, raise the cost of medical treatments and medicines or threaten public health measures, such as tobacco control;
  5. Does not give overseas investors or suppliers any greater rights than domestic investors and suppliers such as through introducing Investor-State Dispute Settlement, or reduce our ability to control overseas investment or finance;
  6. Does not expand intellectual property rights and enforcement in excess of current law;
  7. Does not weaken our public services, require privatisation, hinder reversal of privatisations, or increase the commercialisation of Government or of (insert name) Council or other local government organisations
  8. Does not reduce our flexibility to support local economic and industry development and encourage good employment and environmental practices and initiatives like the (insert examples), and the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs which enable marginalised young people to develop their skills and transition into meaningful employment;
  9. Contains enforceable labour clauses requiring adherence to core International Labour Organisation conventions and preventing reduction of labour rights for trade or investment advantage;
  10. Contains enforceable environmental clauses preventing reduction of environmental (and biosecurity) standards for trade or investment advantage;
  11. Has general exemptions to protect human rights, the environment, the Treaty of Waitangi, and New Zealand's economic and financial stability;
  12. Has been negotiated with real public consultation including regular public releases of drafts of the text of the agreement, and ratification being conditional on a full social, environmental, and economic impact assessment including public submissions.

Nelson City Council Shows The Way

Graeme O'Brien and Mary Ellen O'Connor hosted a public meeting in Nelson in February 2013. There they introduced Professor Jane Kelsey who gave the 100+ audience an overview of the TPPA and its negotiations to date. Jane also revealed to the meeting the TPPA policy decision taken by Auckland City Council the previous December.

Graeme and Mary Ellen then went to work building a coalition, getting Nelson residents to sign a petition, and lobbying the Nelson City Council to adopt the policy. This was ultimately successful a few months later in July 2013. Well done Graeme and the team. Graeme is the inspiration behind my work as he encouraged my participation in the lobby of the TPPA policy to Tasman District Council (TDC) – so blame him.

Tasman District Council Follows With A Unanimous Decision

With that the TDC was the next council to be approached. The Golden Bay Community Board of the TDC precipitated matters, adopting the policy and recommending it to Council. Councillor Martine Bouillir, based in Golden Bay, was key to that development. I was a member of the Motueka Renewables, a small climate action group initiated by two grandmothers concerned for their progeny and posterity generally. By 2012 the Renewables had come to be aware of the TPPA and its implications to undermine beneficial public policy in respect to climate change mitigation. Further investigation deepened our appreciation of the problem of entrenching corporation rights to the detriment of human and ecological rights.

The Renewables working with a coalition mounted a successful lobby project which brought Tasman District Council to look seriously at the TPPA. The TDC lobby involved us attending the Council chambers on three occasions, September and December 2013 and again on March 6th, 2014, where the Council unanimously adopted a slightly amended version of the proposed TPPA policy (

The lesson from the successful TDC lobby was that Tasman, a mixed region with a majority of politically conservative councillors, was sufficiently mobilised to investigate the TPPA. When Councillors did, they discovered enough to promote disquiet and carry the TPPA policy unanimously. If Tasman could do that, there was the possibility of disseminating the TPPA policy further afield.

How To Build It Beyond Auckland, Nelson & Tasman Councils?

In an effort to disseminate the TPPA policy we wrote a letter and background paper, which was emailed to each councillor in all New Zealand regional councils and local territorial authorities. I wrote the letter and paper and had editorial assistance from mates in the Renewables. I gained the email addresses of all sitting councillors by copying them from the Websites of the 78 territorial authorities and regional councils. It took three days to collect and email all councillors at all 78 councils and selected staff, close to 1,500 addresses, commencing on March 20th, 2014.

Here is the covering letter we sent to all Councils: And here is the March 2014 paper that  the Renewables sent to all councils:

Learning By Doing

Fortune smiled on our endeavours as the timing slotted our letter and paper into all of the councils' annual plan processes. This ensured the TPPA matter could not be ignored by Councils. It also afforded opportunities to speak to councils all over the country at annual plan hearings. That continued through to about June of 2014.

How Did Councils Respond?

Part of the problem was that the councillors themselves were somewhat ignorant of TPPA – which was hardly surprising, as the Government was effectively keeping the negotiations under the radar of most New Zealanders. Councillors are busy, there's a heap of material they must be across to properly represent their constituency. They are swamped with their regular council work, so, for some, the TPPA issue was a pain in the proverbial. However, most councillors are civic minded, and provided one can get their attention for long enough to get the issue onto their radar, they engaged to find out about the TPPA.

And, as with anyone, once their interest is aroused they notice news reports or references on the Internet. Once they engaged with the TPPA we were able to talk rationally about the secrecy, as opposed to a desire for transparency in open societies. We were able to engage with councillors about the known content, available as background papers and from Wikileaks. During the course of the negotiations and our lobby there were leaks of controversial chapters - Investor State Disputes Settlement, Intellectual Property and the Environment Chapter. Then councillors began to understand the consequences for themselves and families, their community, their region and, finally, New Zealand that flow from a deal that is not in our interest.

Council Runs On The Board:

Auckland & Palmerston North City

Horizons & Greater Wellington Regional

Horowhenua District

Several councils, independently of our efforts from the Nelson/Tasman region, had already considered the TPPA problem: Greater Wellington Regional Council in December 2013, Palmerston North City and Horizons Regional Councils, both in February 2014 and Horowhenua District Council in April 2014. These councils had either, through the interest of councillors or, as a result of lobbies from their constituencies, considered and adopted policy or positions in respect to the TPPA.

We were now seeking consistency, encouraging councils to adopt the full 12-point public interest policy. We developed a local government lobby kit, which contained the background paper we provided all councils, along with a draft petition and other documents which assisted activists in their lobby efforts with their local councils. The material we developed for this campaign was made available at the It's Our Future Website ( but is no longer available there.

National TPPA Rallies Launched

TPPA rallies were conducted the length of the nation on Saturday March 29th, 2014. Whilst not the first anti-TPPA rallies, these were the first nationwide ones. The March 2014 timing of the rallies gave the TPPA local government campaign a huge lift as we had an extra focus, locals raising the issue of lobbying their councils with the TPPA public interest policy. That was my speaking contribution to the Nelson rally. Marches and rallies occurred at 15 locations in New Zealand's major centres. This commenced a series of large nationwide rallies that continued through 2015 and 2016 with the huge Auckland rally opposing signing of the TPPA on February 4th, 2016.

Murray Horton Speaking Tour

“Who's Running the Show? And In Whose Interests?”

Top Of The South Island, April 2014

It was at Takaka in mid-April that I first met Murray Horton and Jeremy Agar on the CAFCA/ABC national speaking tour. They had started it in Dunedin in March. The Top of the South venues were Takaka, Nelson (for the Roger Award event) and Blenheim. I travelled to Takaka to get the whole lecture on April 14th, as the word was that Murray's extensive lecture was to be shortened the following night at the Roger Award event in Nelson at Lambretta's Café (you can read Murray Horton’s “Roger Award Event: Nelson Raises The Bar [In A Bar]”  in Watchdog 136, September 2014, Ed.).

It was arising from comprehending the content of Murray's lecture and the tie to TPPA, that I conceived the idea of following his speaking tour. I intended addressing our “TPPA policy” initiative, to lobby local government, to the audience at each venue in the North Island section of the tour. Murray after a brief consideration indicated his support.

TPPA Roadie Out Into The Wide World Of Local Body Politics

I'd previously made contact with Christchurch TPPA activist, Gen de Spa, earlier in 2014 after I saw a news report and video clip of her speaking on the TPPA. Gen had an appointment with the Christchurch City Council (CCC) to present to their public forum on April 24th and invited me to travel from Motueka to speak as I had some experience by then. I gained an early taste of life on the road.

We presented to the CCC on the Thursday before Easter. Councillors requested that their officials prepare a report for the next Council meeting. The report took a fair while to return to the Council agenda. It was finally considered in August 2014. I'll pick up the story further along. Following that it was into Tinkerbell for the drive first to Motueka and then to Picton to catch the ferry to a new adventure on the road following Murray's lecture tour.

Who's Running The Show? And In Whose Interests?

I became Murray's benevolent stalker, speaking to each audience at the end of Murray's talk, commencing with Waiheke Island on May 4th, the North Island tour culminated at Adrian and Shelley Leason's Otaki barn on May 29th. The North Island tour saw Murray speak at the following locations in chronological order; Waiheke, Auckland (Trades Hall), Whangarei, Kaitaia, AUT (Auckland University of Technology), Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Thames, Waihi, Te Aroha, Tauranga, Whakatane, Opotiki, Gisborne, Clive, Palmerston North, Whanganui, Paekakariki, Wellington and Otaki. Besides the work of the tour, the novelty, visiting new places and meeting lots of lovely people made a lasting impression on me.

The Otaki meeting at the Leasons was my first meeting with Adrian, one of the three “Dome Busters” who slashed one of the Waihopai spy base domes in April 2008  ( and who, subsequently, were acquitted by a Wellington jury in March 2010 ( Adrian was not the only contact that I made on that tour.

Many people whom I spoke to, and shared contact details with, are now solid friends. Those associations carry on and they provided an important contact point for organising national actions and local government lobbies in the three years that followed. It was brilliant to already have friends in a region when it came time to organise local public meetings and to front lobbies to councils as the project grew through late 2014 and 2015.

Hutt City Council Annual Plan Presentation

TPPA Policy Solution

Many councils addressed the TPPA policy through their mandatory annual plan process. Hutt City Council (HCC) informed me that their public hearing was May 29th. That was the first occasion I was available to personally present. At the time, I didn't know anyone in the Hutt, so made a few enquiries amongst contacts to find Andrew from Tawa in Porirua to collaborate on the presentation.

For HCC I prepared a two-page speech timed to fill the five-minute slot allowed by the Council. I was interrupted toward the end of my delivery by Mayor Ray Wallace, who cut me off, saying that the Council would formally consider the TPPA outside the Annual Plan process. Effectively he committed to make the TPPA an agenda item for the HCC.

This was the beginning of a long association with this Council. For other councils, particularly in the North Island, I was able to get a few contacts to make representations to council plan hearings; particular gratitude to Linda Grammer, then in Northland, for her work at the Northland and Whangarei Councils. I then drove to Otaki for the final venue of Murray's North Island tour, in Adrian Leason's packed and smoky barn, a great night from which I came away with several new friends. I felt that being Murray's stalker had been largely of benefit in providing the campaign a boost – time would tell.

South Island Campaign June-August 2014

I returned to the South Island for the Christchurch leg of Murray's lecture tour, returning to the Motueka Valley for a brief respite and to catch up with home.

Hurunui District Youth Council

Hurunui District Council's Youth Council had become interested in the TPPA and the policy we advocated. The Council sought that we provide a presentation to their June 2nd meeting. As Hurunui is close to Christchurch, I approached Gen de Spa with an offer that she or folks from Christchurch might be interested in making the presentation. She delegated the task to her nephew Luka de Spa. I drove down from Motueka and Gen and Luka arrived from Christchurch. Luka's presentation was well received with intelligent questions asked and answered.

We offered to return or address any further inquiries the budding politicians might have, and left after encouraging them to recommend the TPPA policy to the Hurunui District Council. For the record the Hurunui Council did not adopt the TPPA policy; however it was an invaluable experience and alerted me to the many sub-committees attached to councils, which provide vectors to get councils to address matters from the public.

Gore, Invercargill & Dunedin

The Southern Lobby Begins

With the return to Christchurch and the South Island I was particularly busy. From Christchurch, I drove to Gore to attend that District Council's Annual Plan hearing on June 9th. The presentation I made was well received and the Council formally adopted a watching brief on the TPPA treaty negotiations. From Gore, I elected to drive to Invercargill, having never been there previously.

That night I slept parked in Tinkerbell under the “no parking” sign at the Bluff foreshore looking out to Stewart Island. The van rocked all night in the wind. The following day, I cold called on the Invercargill City Council and spoke to a policy officer about the TPPA. From this contact, I was provided an opportunity to present to the Invercargill City Youth Council on August 6th.

Returning to Christchurch via Kaka Point in the Catlins I paid Jeremy Agar a visit and stayed for a couple of days. Then, on to Dunedin where I met several TPPA activists including Jen Olsen who leads the Dunedin TPPA Action team. They were keen to lobby the Dunedin City Council with the TPPA policy solution. June 16th saw me present to Kaikoura District Council's Annual Plan hearing. There wasn't much enthusiasm from that Council for our recommendation. However, I met Ralph Hogan, a noted climate change and oil free activist.

Christchurch Final Leg Of The CAFCA/ABC Tour

Returning to Christchurch I was busy arranging more public meetings for Murray's lecture tour. In addition to the June 25th meeting at the Christchurch WEA venue, we organised meetings at New Brighton, Lyttelton, Heathcote, Fendalton and Papanui. Although the attendances were small, the ability to provide the forum and share Murray's lecture was invaluable. I put up posters around the city to advertise the meetings. These few hundred posters and flyers distributed around Christchurch were the first of thousands I stuck up in the course of the campaign. Murray's report on the 2014 lecture tour is in Watchdog 137, December 2014 (

LGNZ Plays Hard Ball On TPPA

During June, we began to think about Local Government NZ (LGNZ) and decided to write to that organisation directly, asking it to consider the TPPA issue. That year LGNZ developed an election manifesto, directed at the September 2014 General Election. The Renewables and Nelson TPPA Action requested LGNZ to place TPPA on its election manifesto to the two main Party Leaders; however, it ignored this opportunity (you can read our request here:

July 22nd saw 22 TPPA activists assembled outside the LGNZ Conference at Nelson's Rutherford Hotel. The ever-vigilant Graeme O'Brien was the key organiser. We held anti-TPPA signs and had information available for delegates and the public. We courteously greeted the Opposition Leader David Cunliffe who came and shook our hands. Prime Minister John Key, along with the Labour leader, was there to respond to the LGNZ election manifesto.

What Does Labour Stand For?

The previous evening, David Cunliffe addressed about 200 Party faithful and supporters and responded to questions from the floor. Graeme O'Brien and I attended and I asked the second question of the night, asking Labour to stand by their 2012 TPPA policy remits 34 and 35. The crowd were enthusiastic in their support for my question giving a lot of applause. Cunliffe's answer was underwhelming, so we followed that up with a letter setting out the matter in detail and seeking a formal response (

Cunliffe didn't bother replying! Following the September election, he was dumped in favour of List MP, Andrew Little. I wrote him on March 6th, 2015, with similar correspondence seeking Labour's commitment to maintain it's 2012 TPPA policies (

Again, no response to the request. On two further occasions, I met Andrew Little at events - one was his May pre-Budget speech in Wellington, and another was a few months later at Parliament when he was walking through the main hall. On both occasions, I approached seeking a meeting to gain Labour's position on the TPPA, given that we were effectively promoting its 2012 Conference policy on the TPPA. On both occasions, he promised to set up an appointment and both times that was the end of the matter.

Labour, in my opinion, is not to be trusted in respect to the public interest concerns on trade and investment treaties. It was the Clark Labour government that negotiated the China-NZ Free Trade Agreement, done in 2008, which contains Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. Ultimately, Labour voted against the TPPA legislation in November 2016; however, I remain unconvinced that the free trading globalist faction of the Party has been defeated. It's ironic that Phil Goff who poured cold water on remit 35 at the November 2012 conference, is now the Mayor of Auckland, the city that first adopted the TPPA policy we promote!

Whanganui District Council Lobby:

Manipulative Politics At Its Worst

TPPA activists at Whanganui enthusiastically lobbied their Council through early 2014. The TPPA issue was placed on the Council agenda for June 19th. This day became infamous in Whanganui District Council (WDC) history. Four Councillors who opposed the TPPA being made a Council issue vacated the Council Chamber, denying the Council a quorum to formally consider the matter. This caused consternation amongst the 40 or so locals that attended and those who had prepared their presentations to the Council. It also gained significant coverage in the Whanganui Chronicle, both at the time and years later (

Mayor Annette Main was distraught at this seeming breach of Council meeting protocol by the walkout Councillors. She quickly got the TPPA back on the agenda, placing it before the Audit, Risk and Finance Committee on July 15th. Whanganui activists collected sufficient funds to fly me up to present to that meeting – thanks, that was a privilege. The favourable recommendation from the WDC Risk and Assurance Committee (RAC) to adopt our TPPA policy went to the full Council on July 29th. Here the recommendation met organised resistance.

The Councillors who initially walked out (at the Council’s June 19th meeting), denying a quorum, worked on a few of the less staunch. These had been our supporters at the earlier RAC. Ultimately the Council adopted an amendment that deleted the 12 points of the TPPA policy formula, electing to: “Encourage the Government to conclude negotiations on the TPPA and free trade agreements in a way that provides net positive benefits for the Whanganui District and New Zealand”. The issue for activists is, what constitutes the “net positive benefit”, if it's not defined? There are wins and losses – celebrate the wins and learn from the loss!

Breakthrough: Christchurch City Council Does Us Proud

August 14th saw our TPPA Action warrior, Gen de Spa, present to the Christchurch City Council's public forum soon after the 9.30 a.m. commencement of the full Council meeting. We had previously presented to CCC on April 24th. Gen and the team had tabled our petition, calling on the CCC to adopt our TPPA policy. Gen's public forum presentation video is at

The Council considered the TPPA matter later in the afternoon. It supported our TPPA policy unanimously, and recommended that LGNZ adopt it also.  The Council's discussion and decision are available for view here: This was a major breakthrough as CCC represents a large population, and sends a clear message that there were genuine misgivings about the TPPA negotiations. It is also notable that LGNZ had earlier refused our suggestion to include the TPPA in their election manifesto a few weeks earlier in Nelson.

Whilst the CCC was considering the policy, I had driven from Dunedin, where I was staying at the time, to an appointment with the Clutha District Council (CDC), whose office is at Balclutha. The drive south was through sleet and driving snow but, luckily, the Council offices were nicely hospitable. Following my presentation, Mayor Brian Cadogen said that the Council appreciated our raising the TPPA matter with it and that Council would maintain a watching brief on the TPPA negotiations.

Dunedin Makes It Two Councils In A Few Days

Four Councils In The South Island!

The Dunedin TPPA Action team had been busy in the period from June when I first met the leaders. They had collected signatures on a petition and generated a fair bit of interest. I had been working between Christchurch and Dunedin. We made a presentation to the Dunedin City Council's Economic Development Committee at the end of July. This contributed to the DCC’s decision to place the TPPA on the agenda for its full Council meeting on August 18th.

We had a group of supporters and a short space in the Council's Public Forum. TPPA Action in Dunedin was led by Jenny Olsen (there's a few key players now including Liana Kelly). Jen, along with Gill Caradoc-Davies, a retired medical officer; Gail Marmont, from the National Council of Women; Rosemary Penwarden from Oil Free Otago; and Professor Alan Mark from Wise Response, presented in the public forum.

Soon afterwards, Council considered the TPPA report on the agenda prepared by Council staff. It is important for those making an attempt on their Council in respect to TPPA or any matter to be aware of Council standing orders and protocols. Generally, for an issue to be determined by Council, it must be placed on the formal agenda and usually for staff to have written a report setting out the matter and its implications. Councillors debated passionately and finally determined in a close vote to support our TPPA policy.

There is an  Otago Daily Times article on the DCC’s TPPA vote at: These two decisions provided us with a strong position. We had supportive councils representing a majority of South Islanders with; Christchurch, Dunedin, Tasman and Nelson Councils! How to improve that situation? Travel to the North Island was the call.

One Last Sortie South

Before leaving the South I had arranged presentations to two more councils. August 19th saw me present briefly to the Southland Regional Council (SRC). The reception was polite; however, the majority seemed happy for me to leave without accepting our TPPA policy gift.  I presented to the Invercargill City Council's (ICC) Public Forum on August 20th. I had presented to the ICC Youth Council on August 6th, which provided a lot of discussion and questions from that bunch of wise youngsters.

That Wednesday at the Council chamber we were asked to stand as his Worshipful Mayor Tim Shadbolt entered from the rear of the Council Chamber, and made his way forward. We were encouraged to remain standing as he took his place at the head of the Council table and proceeded to read “the prayer” before Council. This prayer's last line invokes the “Sacred Trust of Government” cautioning those present of the standard to apply when deciding the public fate. This evoked within me the sense of the ancient tradition in which we participate. I invoked that same “the Sacred Trust of Government” when I later had my turn to speak.

My written papers to ICC and earlier to the SRCs were similar. My oral presentation to ICC was an exploration of the subject of the TPPA, and I drew out the question of the Four Well-beings, stripped from the Local Government Act of 2002 (LGA). The well-beings in the LGA purposes outlined the responsibility of councils to provide for the social, environmental, economic and cultural well-being of the community, town, city and district or region. The removal was opposed by most Councils, LGNZ, and the Human Rights Commission (HRC). The HRC stated that it saw no evidence in response to central Government's assertion that the Four Well-Beings were inefficient or led to irresponsible spending.

North Island & Meeting Wellington TPPA Action Activists

I worked in the Wellington region from late August, invited to present to Wellington City Council (WCC) on August 27th by Wellington TPPA Action. My focus became the Hutt, Upper Hutt, Kapiti and Porirua Councils. Wellington TPPA Action, led by Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati, worked with their anti-TPPA champion, Councillor Sarah Free, to push our policy object onto the WCC agenda.

When would we achieve a breakthrough from our considerable endeavours? In the Hutt region, we organised a series of public meetings whose object was to share TPPA implications. It was in Wellington, particularly the Hutt region, that I got serious sticking up meeting notices around Lower and Upper Hutt announcing public meetings in an attempt to gather interest in a lobby on these councils.

The meeting and connection with Antony Maddock from the Hutt was of strategic importance as he had his own signwriting small business, “Smartarts” and was an accomplished musician with a full set of sound and stage equipment. Antony designed our posters and I placed them around the town, often working all night as I found that was the best time to work. During the course of the campaign I pasted thousands around the larger Wellington region for nationwide rallies and local public meetings.

We conducted at least 20 public meetings in the Wellington, Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Kapiti Coast areas during the course of the campaign from late 2014 to early 2016. All were postered, and in the last series associated with the TPPA Free Zone Lobby on councils in early 2016, we paid for small adverts in the local papers and the Dominion Post. We had called the policy by a few names; however, during October 2014, it was Antony's brother Steve who gave us the obvious “solution” idea, so it came to be known as the “TPPA Policy Solution”.

November 2014 Nationwide Rallies

I postered through the Hutt, and from Johnsonville to the Kapiti as far as Waikanae for the November 8th, 2014, nationwide TPPA rallies. That Saturday Ian Todd from Levin invited me to speak at their rally at Te Takere’s (Levin) Library complex, where a couple of hundred locals gave much support. Following my talk, I jumped into Tinkerbell for the Wellington rally.

I arrived in Wakefield Street to see a huge and colourful crowd cross at the pedestrian crossing by the Michael Fowler Centre and pouring into Civic Square from the Cuba Street Bucket Fountain. Well done, TPPA Free Wellington for getting the crowds out. We continued working on the Wellington councils following the rally; however, everything shuts down for Christmas. I retreated to the South Island for the summer break, returning to Wellington in early February 2015 to pick up the threads.

Wellington City Council

Close Call But The Correct One

Late in the evening of February 25th, WCC had a debate about the TPPA. I wasn't present, as Ariana was coordinating the WCC lobby. This was the moment we at TPPA Action had been waiting for. Council kept us on the edge of our seats as Councillors argued the issue back and forth. Once the debate was concluded Mayor Celia Wade-Brown had to vote twice to get us over the line with the very close margin of 7-6. Yes, WCC adopted our TPPA policy solution – the first one for 2015 and what a major coup!

Nationwide Rallies March7th

10,000 Voted With Their Feet!

On this occasion, I was invited by Whanganui TPPA Action to speak at their rally in the morning, commencing at the Steel Ball Sculpture on the Whanganui River's edge. We marched with more than 200 people to the town square. As with most of their events, the Whanganui TPPA Action crew deployed a team of volunteers handing out information, and encouraging people to sign letters to their Ministers and local Member of Parliament, demanding transparency and that the sovereignty and the interests of the public majority be maintained. Whanganui had mailed over 2,000 letters from constituents to the Government on the TPPA!

From Whanganui, I drove across the Manawatu to Palmerston North for their afternoon rally. I arrived as the 700 assembled commenced their march around the Palmerston North City Square. The rally was addressed by political parties and had the honour of the local Catholic Bishop, Charles Drennan, explain why he joined the protestors, encouraging people to make their voices heard.

In addition, New Zealand First MP, Darroch Ball, made a strong call to people to support the campaign against the TPPA. There were several others. My contribution was to provide a brief history of the TPPA policy solution and its adoption by local authorities. Again, I reinforced that people must engage in their democracy for it to be effective. On that occasion, Christchurch's rally was the stand-out in sheer numbers, drawing up to 4,000 people.

Hutt City Council

TPPA Policy Gets A Boost

The TPPA policy lobby at the Hutt City Council was a drawn-out affair, however, well worth it. We made a substantial presentation to the Council's City Development Committee on October 16th, 2014 ( Next, we spoke to the HCC Policy Committee on March 9th, 2015, where we presented our request that Council adopt our TPPA policy. I was prompted to display that morning's DomPost front page, in response to a question from a Councillor, who asked: “Do you think that the New Zealand public are being kept well informed about the TPPA?”

To give this question some context, the news media provided improved coverage relative to their dismal reportage of the November 2014 rallies. Most of the regional rallies were covered by local newspapers including those in the APN and Fairfax stables. On this occasion Dunedin’s Otago Daily Times wrote a story after ignoring the multitudes participating in November. We also received coverage on both TVNZ and TV3 news.

Neither Auckland‘s New Zealand Herald nor Wellington’s Dominion Post gave the rallies, locally or nationally, any coverage. Instead the cover of the Dominion Post on the following Monday gave full front page prominence to two youngsters skylarking, hitching a ride on the back of a train in the Hutt near Melling.  Corporate news media priorities are evidently into sensationalising poor behaviour and ignoring the reasonable concerns of the many in regard to the national and international political economy. 

HCC Policy Committee subsequently recommended that Council adopt the TPPA policy.  On March 24th, we filled the HCC public gallery and had several speakers in the public forum prior to the formal Council meeting. Councillors had a vigorous debate with Mayor Ray Wallace moving the motion for the TPPA policy solution's adoption. Mayor Wallace stated his belief that our policy is consistent with democratic principles and a reasonable stance.

The decision was overwhelming, despite considered opposition from several key Councillors. The Hutt City Council campaign commenced ten months earlier with my address to Hutt City's 2014 Annual Plan hearing in May 2014. I had a bit of a smile on when supping a beer with our support team after the Council's favourable decision. Well done Antony Maddock and the wider Wellington TPPA Action team for their brilliant support for the entire campaign.

Upper Hutt City Council

We presented to a few Councillors at Upper Hutt in a workshop in March 2015. Following this, Council placed the TPPA on the agenda for its April 9th Full Council meeting. We made representations in the public forum, with three speakers: Antony Maddock, Mary Beth Taylor and myself. The Council had a strong debate, in which a couple of amendments were added to the policy. When the decision came, it was most in favour and only two voting against, namely Mayor Wayne Guppy and one other. Interestingly Mayor Guppy is the only Mayor to vote against the policy thus far. Most Mayors have supported with only two that have abstained.

Kapiti Coast District Council

We had several attempts to persuade the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) to address the TPPA. We had earlier organised public meetings in Paraparaumu and Otaki. We attended Council workshops where constituents were invited to raise matters of concern for Council to address. Mayor Ross Church and several Councillors appeared to be hostile or resist hosting the debate, nevertheless we were gently persistent and ultimately a way was found.

KCDC addressed the TPPA on April 16th, arising from a recommendation from the Paekakariki Community Board. The TPPA Action folk, from a few groups spread along the Kapiti Coast, made representation to the Council's public forum in support of the Community Board’s remit. There were four or five presenters. From the reports I received, the Council discussed the TPPA later in the agenda and broke the policy's 12 points into two parts for decision-making. Ultimately, each was carried in a close decision. Kapiti became the ninth Council, to support. Well done Paekakariki and Kapiti Council.

Gisborne District Council

I elected to attend the Gisborne District Council (GDC) on April 16th, so missed the KCDC decision. Council had made provision in its public forum that same day, to allow Gisborne TPPA Action to place its TPPA policy solution petition before the Council. Gisborne activists had collected over 1,000 signatures to the petition calling on the Council to adopt our TPPA policy. There were Councillors present who were strongly opposed to the policy being considered by the Council. Nevertheless, it was agreed that Councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown produce a TPPA report for the next Council meeting, due on May 21st.

GDC considered three reports on the TPPA on that date; Councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown’s report with the favourable staff recommendation, was joined by reports from Mayor Foon and Councillor Thompson, a significant orchardist in the District. Both of their reports generally supported the TPPA negotiations and were opposed to the Council's adoption of the recommended policy.

After a lengthy debate the Council took a decision to not support the TPPA policy solution, by seven votes to four. We lost the vote, however the local TPPA Action Group has learned a lot in the process. Its members remained staunch in their opposition and looked at a variety of methods to redress the situation. In all of this, as people become engaged in democratic processes, they learn how decisions are made and by whom.

Porirua City Council

Porirua City Council (PCC) was a bit of an inscrutable mystery for TPPA Action. We didn't have a lot of activists in the area, and certainly no relationship with the Council or its Councillors, notwithstanding that Ken Douglas the ex-President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) was a Councillor. Nevertheless, we made two approaches toward getting them to bite on our TPPA policy solution bait. One was before their Te Komiti on April 23rd, 2015, where the fact of my presentation was made known to Mr. Charles Finny, a consultant at Saunders Unsworth (Government lobbyists) in 2010 after five and half years as Chief Executive Officer of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

Prior to that Charles had a wide range of experience in Government working for the Prime Minister’s Department, Department of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). His particular areas of expertise are China, US politics and trade policy, Australia, Asia and international trade: Finny also received attention in Wikileaks cable releases in 2010 where he was identified as a top US contact  (note he worked in MFAT for 22 years):

I made my presentation to the PCC Te Komiti public forum and provided Councillors with several papers outlining our concerns in relation to the TPPA. There were a few questions from Councillors. Finny was provided a spot following me and said what a great thing TPPA is and would be good for boosting NZ exports. He acknowledged the work that went into my papers, saying I appeared to have a good comprehension of the TPPA negotiations and its scope. Council did not elect to pick up our suggestion.

Along with Kit Withers, a mathematician and climate change activist, we made a second approach to the PCC on December 16th, 2015, where we requested it adopt a position that had been adopted by the Greater Wellington Regional Council on November 4th. We presented to the full Council's public forum. On that occasion, we followed the presentation of the Living Wage Campaign seeking that Council commit to providing all Council staff and contractors with the Living Wage.

They had at least 50 people in the Council chambers. We presented after they left and were again met with blank looks. It is apparent that Porirua, despite its working class demographic and the strong role of the Labour Party in the area, could not bring itself to see that the TPPA is a threat to Council sovereignty and the livelihoods of the people who comprise its constituency. Porirua remains inscrutable.

Palmerston North City Council

We made a decision to revisit the Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) with the TPPA policy solution. PNCC, and Horizons Regional Council, in February 2014, and Horowhenua District Council, in April 2014, each decided to write to the Government expressing concern about the TPPA negotiations, seeking transparency and that the New Zealand public interest be protected. These letters gained responses; however, the Councils hadn't themselves adopted a position. With the agreement and support of the Palmerston North TPPA activists we decided to put our TPPA policy to this Council, gaining support for it to be on the agenda for the April 28th Full Council meeting.

Along with a local, Phil Stevens, we presented to the Council's public forum and answered a few questions. Arising from this, Councillors moved and seconded our TPPA policy, which brought on a vigorous debate. Three Councillors and the Mayor, Grant Smith, indicated that they felt that it is premature to adopt the policy, that there was insufficient information, so they abstained. The decision taken by PNCC was ten for, nil against and four abstentions. A significant endorsement. Reading between the lines it indicates that, increasingly, Councillors were finding it difficult to oppose the reasonableness of our proposal.

Tauranga City Council

I recall discussing the prospect of lobbying the TPPA policy to Tauranga City Council (TCC) with Marty Stewart back in May 2014. I met Marty and a few of the locals when I passed through on the tail of Murray Horton's lecture tour, “Who's Running The Show? And In Whose Interests?” Tauranga TPPA Action went to work and individuals placed submissions into the Council Long Term Plan (LTP) process. Local actor Tracy Livingston also placed submissions into the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

I also placed submissions and, along with Zana Wellington, presented to TCC's LTP on May 8th. As well as explaining why the TPPA needed to be considered in relation to the LTP's integrity, we suggested that Council consider adopting the policy in Full Council. We accordingly wrote to the Council seeking to present to their May 19th Council meeting public forum.

Along with a bunch of 30 supporters Tracy delivered the TPPA petition seeking Council's support for the TPPA policy solution. I spoke for about ten minutes from a prepared script and answered a couple of questions. The Council then considered our request and after a bit of discussion the Mayor, Stuart Crosby, moved that staff report on the TPPA issue to the next Council meeting. In doing so, Mayor Crosby stated he “saw nothing unreasonable in the policy.”

On June 23rd, we again assembled at TCC's Chambers. We had accessed the staff report on June 19th. Council meeting agendas are posted on their Websites usually a few days prior to the meeting. The staff had proposed three amendments to our draft policy. The first two were possible improvements, however the adjustment they sought to our point 12, was problematic to our purpose in encouraging international treaty negotiations to be conducted in a transparent process allowing full civil society participation.

In the public forum, we made the case for altered wording of clause iii and that the Council consider replacing the staff suggestion with our original formula for clause 12. Council complied after a strong discussion, voting seven in favour, two against and one abstention. This was a substantial mandate from a Council representing a place many saw as conservative in its demographic nature – everyone loves New Zealand and prefers freedom and sovereignty.

Insurgency Through LTPs:

Hastings, Napier & Rotorua Councils

In conjunction with locals we proposed that Hastings District Council (HDC), whose Mayor Lawrence Yule is President of LGNZ, consider the TPPA. Yule, on behalf of Council, proposed that the Hawkes Bay Regional Council look at TPPA on behalf of Councils. This never materialised. We had a champion in Councillor Maxine Boag at Napier City Council (NCC), who pushed and shoved and gained us a slot to present to NCC's Policy Committee, which proposed a workshop that wasn't convened. Through the Long Term Plan process I was able to get before the Rotorua Lakes District Council (RLDC), however there was little enthusiasm at all in the chamber. None of these I view as a waste of time or effort as one never knows when planted seeds might decide to grow.

South Wairarapa District Council

Sometimes fate plays a surprising hand, little did I know that our earlier efforts in the Wairarapa were paying dividends with the South Wairarapa District Council (SWDC). I had been concentrating on the Carterton District Council (CDC) with a group of local lobbyists. However, no matter how we presented or suggested including presentations to their 2015 Annual Plan process, they wouldn't move. Similarly, with the larger Masterton District Council (MDC) - I couldn't find a way in.

The ability to mobilise tangata whenua in South Wairarapa, plus a previously unknown connection to the Tauranga City Council made the difference. Unbeknown to me at the time, the SWDC July 15th committee meeting adopted our TPPA policy solution with similar amendments as proposed by the Tauranga City Council, that is to clauses 5, 7 and most concerningly clause 12 removing the requirement that Government has regular public consultations and releases of the negotiating texts.

Nevertheless, we now had our 12th Council, which pushed us to a point where Councils representing 60% of the New Zealand population had adopted the TPPA policy solution. The SWDC Maori Standing Committee also addressed the TPPA policy solution on July 27th, adopting it complete with the elevation of the clause protecting the Tiriti o Waitangi to be the first of the 12 descriptive points. It was at this point that our good friends at Action Station devoted a page of their Website to our local government TPPA policy solution and its reach:

Waikato A Bridge Too Far?

Or Rich But Untapped Potential?

It's Our Future, in consultation with the regional TPPA Action groups, had made a decision to hold protests and rallies on August 15th, 2015. Preparations had been ongoing through July. Our local government lobby campaign was now focused on lobbying the Waikato councils to adopt the TPPA policy solution. I committed to support efforts toward a successful Hamilton TPPA rally. Previous Hamilton rallies had been held in the central town square known as Garden Place.

Hamilton TPPA Action crew decided to relocate the August march and rally to the suburb of Te Rapa adjacent to the large shopping complex called The Base. The city heart was split and wasn't the strong people magnet as urban sprawl and the large Taninui iwi retail development attracted thousands on weekends. The TPPA Action team decided that if the people won't come to Garden Place, then take the rally to where the people were in Te Rapa. I immediately commenced pasting posters around town to alert folks to the Te Rapa Hamilton “TPPA Walk Away” rally.

The rally gathering point was Maui Street. By 1:15pm the area was overflowing with a colourful crowd with many placards and banners. We were overwhelmed as those assembled numbered several thousand. Previous Hamilton TPPA rallies might have had several hundred at their largest. This march was massively long. I was amongst a few whose role was coordinating the traffic and marshalling effort, and had the opportunity to move from the back of the march to the front on several occasions in our procession down Te Rapa Road.

I had plenty of exercise that day. The crowd was so big that we were hopelessly underpowered for amplification, relying on a few megaphones. Speakers included the Green Party MP Jan Logie, Te Pora, a powerful wahine and tangata whenua representative from Raglan who led our chanting, Mischele Rhodes, of the Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association and member of the local Hamilton TPPA Action group, and myself, briefly.

The memory of that rally will stay with me for a long time. The lesson I gathered from it and my time in the Waikato is the enormous potential activism that the Waikato and Hamilton presents. It wasn't lost on me that the TPPA end game was hung up on several issues - intellectual property, copyrights including for pharmaceuticals and trade liberalisation for NZ's agricultural sector, particularly dairy produce access into the North American and Japanese markets.

It seemed that arriving to lobby Waikato councils provided an opportunity to lift the profile of the TPPA and our concerns. The global surplus of dairy product, which has created the slump in the dairy price, was impacting on dairy farmers’ lives in a big way. The talk through Taranaki and the Waikato was that up to 40 dairy farmers had found the situation too stressful to bear and taken the terminal step of ending their lives rather than face their losses with their creditors and/or peers. Some Kiwis found it hard to not be winners.

Waikato: We Go To Work

Our three targeted Councils had meetings on August 11th - Waikato Regional Council's (WRC) Policy Committee, Hamilton City Council's (HCC) full Council meeting and the Waikato District Council's (WDC) Raglan Community Board meeting. We made approaches to all three, and were effectively rebuffed. Nevertheless, I made the 45 km trek to Raglan and spoke briefly to their public participation space in their agenda. The Board were coolly engaged. We subsequently wrote again and appeared formally before their next meeting on September 8th.

Hamilton City Council

After a persistent lobby, we eventually got before the HCC for a workshop presentation on September 10th. We brought six presenters to the Council on issues affecting youth, environment, intellectual property, tangata whenua, and with papers provided in relation to health and ISDS, intellectual property and a general survey of the TPPA's implications. HCC informally determined to do due diligence. However, that willingness evaporated with the October 5th Atlanta TPPA Agreement.

Waikato District Council

WDC, via the Raglan Community Board (RCB), provided the opportunity to make a full presentation to their Board meeting on September 8th, where they endorsed TPPA policy solution and further recommended it to the Waikato District Council. That's as far as that went. I, along with Julie Marshall, spoke to the Taupiri and Huntly Community Boards in September.

Waikato Regional Council

Following representations from Hamilton TPPA Action, the Waikato Regional Council had a resolution from their August 11th Policy and Strategy Committee: “That Council write to Minister Tim Groser inviting him or an appropriate representative to present to Council at the earliest opportunity on the implications of the TPPA for New Zealand. At that same forum, Council will also invite the TPPA Action Group to present their view on the TPPA implications, and that the TPPA Policy Solution be appended to the report”. However, what did they do with it?

WRC didn't write to the Minister in relation to this proposition until December 14th and then only after a number of prompts by myself, including to the WRC Chair, Paula Southgate. We might have a nominal democracy; however, the lesson is that it requires constant vigilance and pressure to get politicians and their administrations to respond as common sense and decency suggest it ought to.

In January 2016, we received an invitation to participate in a WRC meeting on March 31st, where the lead Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) negotiator, David Walker, presented to the Council. We accepted that invitation and presented to Council who thanked us for our trouble, following Walker's dry run through the material he gave to the 2016 MFAT roadshows.

Auckland Council Local Board Lobby

Attempts To Pressure Auckland Council To Act On TPPA

Auckland local boards picked up the baton for democracy, addressing the TPPA at their meetings during September and into October 2015. Barry Coates, who was then It's Our Future coordinator, worked with local boards who carried resolutions as follows: Waitemata September 8th, Great Barrier Island September 9th, Kaipātiki September 9th, Devonport-Takapuna September 15th, Waiheke September 24th, Puketapapa September 24th and Māngere-Otahuhu October 21st. There was some variation in the motions carried by the boards however the common formula is as follows:

a) That the Waitematā Local Board notes that:

(i) While the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will hopefully generate economic benefits to New Zealand through increased trading opportunities for exporters, there are also significant potential risks to our sovereignty, environment and way of life;

(ii) The TPPA negotiations have been conducted over the last eight years without any public disclosure of the contents, let alone consultation or adequate debate about its principles or provisions;

(iii) The only publicly available information about the detail of the proposed treaty has come about through partial leaks and overseas sources;

(iv) Much of this Agreement goes well beyond its ostensible purpose of free trade and consists of provisions to protect the interests of multi-national corporations, including investor-State rules that would allow multi-national companies to sue our Government for damages in secret tribunals if laws or regulations or policies of either local or central Government affected their ability to trade or make a profit within New Zealand;

(v) A resolution was passed by Auckland Council on 20th December 2012; note particularly clause (xii) which calls for TPPA negotiations to be conducted with ‘real public consultation including regular public releases of the text of the Agreement and ratification being conditional on a full social, environmental and economic assessment including public submissions’;

(vi) The Government has apparently ignored the Council resolution and similar resolutions from other Councils and numerous other public interest organisations and refuses to release any meaningful information about the contents of the treaty.

b) That the Waitematā Local Board requests Auckland Council to:

(i) Seek clarification from the Minister of Trade on how their recommendations are being addressed in current negotiations; and

(ii) Make available to Local Boards and Auckland Citizens the Government's response as well as an analysis of the adequacy of undertakings to address Council’s concerns.

c) That this resolution and background information be circulated to the Mayor and Governing Body, and all other Local Boards.

Which culminated in the Auckland City Council (ACC) Regional Strategy and Policy Committee considering the matter at their October 8th meeting. The notice of motion had a number of elements to it. This meeting followed shortly after the October 5th Atlanta agreement between the 12 TPPA partners. The original proposals that built on the positions coming out of the Local Boards were ultimately watered down to two clauses which were narrowly carried:YYYY

That the Regional Strategy and Policy Committee:

a) requests the Government to publicly release the agreed text and consult widely with local government and citizens before ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

b) requests the Government to clarify how the recommendations in Auckland Council resolution RDO/2012/266 (communicated to the Minister of Trade in the letter of June 5th, 2013, from the Chair of the Regional Development and Operations Committee) were addressed during the concluded negotiations and will be addressed in the ratification process.YYYYY

Atlanta, 5/10/15: TPPA Agreement Reached!

The Atlanta TPPA Ministers’ Meeting occurred amongst a backdrop of expectancy balanced with a lot of scepticism. Will they or won't they reach a conclusion? Will NZ get a good dairy access outcome? What will the intellectual property and copyright chapters look like? What exactly are biologic medicines? What is happening to the patent periods and what is data exclusivity, and why does it matter how long; five years, eight years, 12 years?

What does all that mean for health outcomes in NZ and elsewhere? There were a number of delays and extensions until early on the morning of October 5th, when the world was informed that the TPPA ministers had reached a deal. We had a TPPA agreement. So, what was in it? We had to wait another month for official translations and so that the various nations’ legal teams could scrutinise the details and get the text to an agreed legally clear state.

Greater Wellington Regional Council

New Policy On TPPA process

Notwithstanding the October Atlanta agreement, we pushed on with our lobby and the development of a “process policy” with regard to how the TPPA is to be considered by the public to ensure our interests are protected. Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) considered the TPPA agreement at its November 4th full Council meeting, via a notice of motion advanced by Cr. Paul Bruce. I had worked with Paul following a presentation I made to GWRC in September 2015. TPPA Action representatives and engaged academics made presentations in the public participation component of the meeting. GWRC's meeting devoted a considerable period to the TPPAA and after several amendments, arrived at the following decision:

That the Council:

1 Notes the content of the report.

2 Reviews the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement text against the TPPA Policy Solution adopted by councils representing a majority (60%) of the NZ population.

3 Asks that central Government initiates a full public and Parliamentary debate before proceeding with formal consideration of the TPPA, including formal signing.

4 Asks that central Government carry out independent human rights, health and environmental impact assessments of the potential effects of the TPPA on the people and the land of New Zealand, as urged by the United Nations independent expert Alfred de Zayas, and make this information publicly available.

5 Asks that central Government consults with local government prior to any further action taken that might compromise the ability of local government to make decisions in the interests of our region, the people and their environment.

6 Instructs the Council Chair to write to the President of Local Government NZ (LGNZ), requesting that a local government evaluation, based on an independent analysis of the implications of the TPPA for local government, and for the social, cultural, economic, environmental and health and wellbeing of communities, be undertaken as a basis of LGNZ input into Parliamentary consideration, and that the evaluation report should be made publicly available and widely publicised.

The Paul Bruce notice of motion report concerns itself with regional council responsibilities, concentrating on the environment, report here: The broader territorial authority concerns are also anticipated in the above GWRC decision. The question posed - how do local governments as an institution arrive at a comprehensive and accurate view of the impact and implications of the TPPA? GWRC had determined that the best route is through the agency of the peak body Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ).

Nationwide Rallies 14/11/15

I returned to Hamilton for their TPPA rally. Whilst not as large as the August 15th rally it was a respectable turnout. Attendance was down across all centres in the aftermath of the October 5th Atlanta agreement and the November 5th release of the provisional text in advance of the legal scrubbing process. That day marked the commencement of the 90-day notice period to the US Congress issued by President Obama under the terms of their Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track Bill) of July 2015.

That would see the US able to sign the TPPA from February 3rd, 2016. PM John Key offered to host the signing in New Zealand, setting the scene for the dramatic events in Auckland on February 4th. The November TPPA It Ain’t Over rallies endorsed the following set of demands developed from the work with councils and summarising the way forward from TPPA Action's perspective:

Aotearoa NZ Peoples' TPPA Demands

The Government has no democratic mandate to sign away our democratic powers in the TPPA. Before it takes any steps towards signing the Agreement, the Government shall:

1 Undertake independent human rights, health, environmental and climate change impact assessments of the potential effects of the TPPA on the people and land of New Zealand, and make this information publicly available.

2 Support Local Government New Zealand to undertake an independent assessment of the impacts on local government of the TPPA, and consult fully with local government.

3 Fully engage with its Treaty of Waitangi partners to hear and address their concerns about the TPPA and refer the text and any proposed legislation to the Waitangi Tribunal to conduct a full risk assessment of impacts on tangata whenua; iwi and hapū.

4 Withdraw its consent to the secrecy pact among the 12 TPPA countries and release all background documentation relating to the negotiations.

5 Initiate a full public and Parliamentary debate on the TPPA, including Select Committee hearings with public consultation, and put the TPPA to a public referendum, before formal signing.

We will continue to mobilise New Zealand citizens in opposition to the TPPA until our demands have been met.

TPPA Free Zones

With the TPPA signing likely in New Zealand, although we did not know where till a few weeks before February 4th, the assumption was Auckland. How was the movement to counter the imposition? We decided through discussions in Wellington and through talking to folks in Christchurch, Dunedin and in Auckland, particularly Waiheke, to attempt a new lobby around the concept of TPPA Free Zones (TPPAFZ).

These and their TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) free zone equivalents were being employed by activists, towns and cities throughout the world to express citizen disquiet and opposition to the trade and investment treaty agenda. Work commenced particularly in Auckland with activists targeting the Waiheke Local Board and in the Wellington region with the Upper Hutt City Council. We were looking for a new formula which built out on the 14 November Rally demands.

Waiheke Local Board Decision

Waiheke Island, part of Auckland Council, declared itself a TPPA free zone in a unanimous vote of the Local Board until the effects on local government decision-making and sovereignty could be independently evaluated. Shirin Brown’s notice of motion considered by the Local Board was carried unanimously by the four out of five members present: Paul Walden, Becs Ballard, John Meeuwson, and Shirin Brown. The guts of it was, Waiheke Local Board declares that: 

Until such time as there is robust debate and convincing protection of local government decision-making for the benefit of residents, citizens and ratepayers, and an analysis of how these issues will be addressed at local government level, Waiheke and the Hauraki Gulf is a TPPA Free Zone where the constraints imposed by the TPPA, and the changes to national and local legislation to make our area comply with TPPA requirements are not supported by the Waiheke Local Board.

Which was part of a longer remit with a number of points, see minutes of the board meeting item 11 at page 7 of pdf - link:

News report on the Board decision here:

Upper Hutt City Council

The UHCC met on February 24th with the TPPA on the agenda in the Policy Committee report. About 20 members of the community were present to witness and support the Council arriving at a decision to declare Upper Hutt a TPPA Free Zone. TPPA Action had made extensive representation to the Council in the lead up to this moment; nevertheless, we restated our encouragement with presentations in the public forum. Antony Maddock, Mary Beth Taylor, Eve Jones and I presented. Our recommendation was about the process of consultation, independent assessment and the process toward ratification of the TPPA as well as the TPPA Free Zone declaration:

THAT the Council:

1. Notes the tabled information.

2. Reviews the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPPA) text against the TPPA Policy Solution adopted by councils representing a majority (60%) of the NZ population.

3. Asks that central Government initiates a full public and Parliamentary debate before proceeding with formal consideration of the TPPA, including any further binding treaty action.

4. Asks that central Government carry out independent human rights, health and environmental impact assessments of the potential effects of the TPPA on the people and the land of New Zealand, as urged by the United Nations independent expert Alfred de Zayas, and make this information publicly available.

5. Asks that central Government consults with local government prior to any further action taken that might compromise the ability of local government to make decisions in the interests of our region, the people and their environment.

6. Instructs the Council’s Mayor to write to the President of LGNZ, requesting that a local government evaluation, based on an independent analysis of the implications of the TPPA for local government, and for the social, cultural, economic, environmental and health and wellbeing of communities, be undertaken as a basis of LGNZ input into Parliamentary consideration, and that the evaluation report should be made publicly available and widely publicised.

7. Declares until such time as there is robust debate and convincing protection of local government decision-making for the benefit of residents, citizens and ratepayers, and an analysis of how these issues will be addressed at local government level, Upper Hutt City Council is a TPPA free zone where the constraints imposed by the TPPA, and the changes to national and local legislation to make our area comply with TPPA requirements are not supported by the Upper Hutt City Council.

8. Directs that this resolution and background information be circulated to all other councils and local and community boards around New Zealand and that it is sent immediately to the New Zealand Minister of Trade and Prime Minister.

The Council moved through the business quickly till it got to the Policy Committee report, where it adopted all but the TPPA matter, leaving it for formal consideration. Councillor Angela McLeod moved and Cr Hellen Swales seconded the resolution. There was an extensive discussion with several councillors contributing. An attempt to consider the motion in its eight parts was denied by the Mayor in his capacity as Chair of the meeting. This was to prove crucial to the outcome, as Councillor John Gwilliam had indicated support for the substantive motion; however, he was uneasy about the TPPA Free Zone declaration.

Councillor Steve Taylor was the only Councillor to speak formally against the motion; however, notable in his contribution was his acknowledgement of the quality of the material brought to the Council by the proponents of the resolution in their public forum presentations both on that day and in the past. Eventually the motion was put and carried on the voices. A division was called for which was resolved on a show of hands. The vote was seven in favour and four against the resolution.

Upper Hutt had formally declared their unease with the TPPA, their concern about the lack of democracy and taken a similar position as Waiheke Local Board had done in declaring their territory a TPPA Free Zone! Needless to say, the community representatives were ecstatic with the result. Following the decision, we retired from the Council Chamber to allow the Council to deal with the remainder of its business.

Upper Hutt TPPA Free Zone Decision Revisited

Upper Hutt City Council’s meeting on May 18th, 2016, considered voting on rescinding their previously adopted TPPA Free Zone policy adopted as a precaution to the undemocratic imposition of the TPPA. Following the February decision, pressure had been piled onto the Councillors - Mark Futter of the Hutt Chamber of Commerce, Chris Bishop, National List MP, and the National government had pressured the UHCC to get rid of the TPPA Free Zone position.

Upper Hutt City Council, after hearing reports from TPPA Free members Wendy Blanche, Mary Beth Taylor and myself, confirmed its scepticism of the TPPA, voting overwhelmingly to retain its February 2016 TPPA position, including the controversial TPPA Free Zone declaration. Well done Councillors, the resolution carried seven votes to four was:

THAT Council does not reconsider the recommendations as presented in the report by the Chief Executive.

Local Government Lobby For Beneficial TPPA Policy Concludes

That was as far as we were able to go with local government on the TPPA. After that decision, no other Council allowed us into their chamber to advance the TPPA Free Zone position. Nevertheless, the record is impressive in terms of the spread of councils willing to allow their chambers to be accessed for serious discussions on governance and appropriate public policy – which is as it should be! Well done to New Zealand's territorial authorities and regional councils and to the hundreds of people that participated in the lobby. However, we cannot rest at this point - the forces that favour the interests of corporations are advancing across the planet, and at home in Aotearoa/NZ!

Local Government Implications From The TPPA

The Law Foundation provided a grant for a series of expert papers to be developed in relation to the TPPA: “Expert Paper 6: Implications Of TPPA For Local Government” by Tony Holman, Richard Northey and Prof. Jane Kelsey, University of Auckland, available here, provides a full picture of the TPPA and its impact:

Local Government Amendment Bill 2002 (No 2)

My participation in the TPPA campaign and the promotion of the TPPA policy solution to New Zealand's local government sector deepened my interest in local government as a force for representing community interests. As with any institutions whose purpose is to foster and support good public policy, the current National government is doing whatever it can to undermine and destroy their effectiveness. The Local Government Amendment Bill (No 2) is one of a series of alterations intended to gut our councils’ effectiveness in delivering public service. The Government's default setting is to privatise and deregulate everything.

I felt motivated to make representation to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee in relation to the Bill. I had an appointment for September 1st, the last day of public hearings for that Bill. My presentation followed Stephen Woodhead, chairman of the Otago Regional Council, and set the scene for Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) President and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule who followed me.

RNZ's September 4th Parliamentary report featured the Bill for the first eight minutes in its report: papers provided to the Committee, are at:

TPPA Dead After A Long Battle

TPPA died a death of a thousand cuts. The activists and public of Aotearoa/New Zealand contributing massively to the spirit and substance of the struggle. The preceding story is only one part of the effort of millions across the TPPA nations and those affected by TTIP and TiSA and the unfair treaties already imposed. There are more currently under negotiation as in RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) and more still proposed.

The final cut that killed TPPA as we know it was imposed with President Trump's signature on his January 23rd, 2017, Executive Order withdrawing from TPPA: The January 30th letter from the US Trade Representative to NZ advising of withdrawal from TPPA is at: 17%20USTR%20Letter%20to%20TPPA%20Depositary.pdf

So, What's Next?

Check out It’s Our Future as the campaign focuses on RCEP and the many treaties that the NZ government is keen to negotiate: Professor Jane Kelsey provides insight into that which is coming and what to do in this article:

Out Takes, Observations & Suggestions

For The Budding Political Activist

The following points attempt to draw together some of my learning from the experiences, both good and challenging as an activist. The first set deal generally with council processes where one attempts to gain a council's attention and agreement. It's not exhaustive, bearing in mind that we attempted various approaches developed through working with diverse groups of people.

Community, Local Boards & Youth Committees

Many Means To The End

  • Youth committees provide a vehicle to gain council's attention
  • Presenting to youth provides learning experiences for youth and the presenter. Youth can promote issues through council forums
  • Community and Local Boards (Auckland Council) provide another vector to council, also they provide a forum to educate all who might be in attendance at the meeting
  • Auckland City Council Local Boards are bigger than most councils
  • 78 councils = 57 territory, 2 unitary, 19 regional
  • Petitions (often a limit of 50 words is imposed – check standing orders)
  • Letter to council
  • Speak in the public forum (some standing orders require that one addresses matters only on the council or committee agenda)
  • Build relationships with councillors and develop champions who will promote the desired object within the council
  • Learn the meeting schedule and one's way around the council website.
  • Learn the annual cycle of meetings, annual and long term plans (LTP)
  • Ask for an appointment with councillor/s
  • Building relationships with council staff
  • Organise delegations to targeted councillors and/or staff
  • Most people like to be treated with respect

Community Participation & Processes

  • Public meetings
  • Connections within district to allies
  • Connections across districts within regions
  • Connections throughout the nation


  • History often swings on a few votes
  • Everyone has a role to play in political activism
  • Any idea requires little effort to imagine
  • It requires effort to build mass and sustain momentum
  • Movements tend to dissipate and fracture when the going gets tough and where there's no hope for a solution
  • Movements can be discontinuous
  • Institutionalisation entrenches movement
  • Rigid rules become brittle and will crack
  • The universe is movement – be flexible read the signs and alter tactics to suit the moment

Final Thoughts From The TPPA Roadie

I've been thinking upon what is imperative in 2017 and going forward –  the struggle against the TPPA and immersion in public policy has demonstrated that for the human project to proceed with grace, we need effective and “fair rule of law”. I've summarised my sense of that here in this blog post:

Appeal For Sustainers

I'm keen to continue in public advocacy, however I do need to eat and, as I mentioned earlier, acquire my own wheels (Tinkerbell replacement). If you care for what I do perhaps, on this occasion, consider digging deep. Greg's only income is from public donations. Many thanks for your support. Aroha and peace.

 To sustain me continue this work contribute to Kiwibank account Public Advocacy Donations Account 389017-0439360-00 Reference "TPPA Roadie"


It takes a lot of work to compile and write the material presented on these pages - if you value the information, please send a donation to the address below to help us continue the work.

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