Another pivotal moment faces New Zealand (Aotearoa) and a radically interconnected Pacific region, also inhabited by millions of people on island continents and smaller islets with diverse ecological systems. Remaining true to a history of learning from, and then preventing “overkill,” no wonder thousands of Maori and New Zealanders marched against the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s (TPP’s) industrial and financial excesses. Everywhere, there was a sea of signs reading: “Keep NZ Nationwide and Free of TPP,” “TPP Is Corporate Rape of Our Whenua,” “John Key Is An A$$hole” and “TPP Not My Future.”
Situated in a literal center-Pacific, New Zealand’s two main islands are of great ecological importance, both of which are the most ancient island continents that once belonged to Gondwanaland. Not only is it ten times the size of all the other islands of Polynesia combined, but its distance acted as a filter as one of the last places to be settled and then later conquered and colonized by Europe. In fact, its delicate ecosystems, with a unique variety of plants and animals and winged creatures, evolved without human impact, making it endemic to industrialization and market economies similar to the TPP.
The first Polynesian Maori, with domesticated plants and animals and intensive farming, changed the islands landscape. In time, deforestation led coral dying, breeding grounds for fish disappearing, and conflict over scarce arable land. However, the Maori eventually reversed the destruction, thriving in a sustainable environment. But with the TPP, the “life of the land as sustained by a proper relationship” would again become a deadly ecological disaster. Designed to protect multinational corporations, both workers and the environment would be subjugated, Maori culture exploited and commodified.
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Britain initiated the next great overkill by introducing “a sailor’s trunk.” Though the fiercely independent Maori resisted the onslaught of invasive species and virulent diseases, ecosystems were decimated. Britain’s integration of new lands into the world of global industries caused New Zealand to suffer from unequal and relentless exaggerations at the hands of world markets, including bank failures and depressions. Written behind closed doors by the wealthy elite, the TPP will force low-wage labor to compete, leading tothe elimination of a middle class, more marginalization, and greater income inequality.
Instead of a Pleistocene and Industrial Overkill, a TPP Overkill now haunts New Zealand and the Pacific. Just as humans coincided with the precipitous decline and extinction of native plants and animals, so, too, will the invasive TPP. Like NAFTA and the permanent normal trade relations (PNTR), it will cause massive job losses, thousands of factories to shift, organized labor to disappear, and irreparable environmental degradation. Above all, it will lead to the loss of local and traditional sovereignties, only to be raided and privatized by massive multi- and trans-national corporations controlled by the One-Percenters (New World Conquerors).
The last great overkill New Zealanders prevented was in 1987. Backed by a new Maori and Labor Party, all nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered warships were banned. Effectively, the ban closed New Zealand ports to the US Navy. The Maori’s redressing of past wrongs could be a blueprint in stopping the TPP’s dismantling of the environment, health and food safety standards, and protective financial laws. Having had their lands stolen under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, 800 claims have now restored “full, exclusive and undisturbed possession” of forests, fisheries, native plants, genes, cultural knowledge, and sacred sites.
In addition, the Maori’s treaty claims of patenting their own living organisms would prevent the TPP’s invasive genetically modified crops from damaging fragile ecosystems. At the same time, the granting of rights to local breeders would prohibit the devastating effects of the TPP’s artificial insemination programs. Perhaps more importantly, the TPP’s misappropriation of Maori and New Zealandcultural symbols would be deemed a violation, preventing TPP corporations from challenging local laws and customs in international tribunals rather than in Maori or New Zealand courts.
As the first country to grant women the right to vote, along with legislating the first social welfare and elderly pension plans, NewZealanders have long challenged Western Industrialization and its models of property and corporate rights before personhood. NewZealand, in fact, is very protective of its workers, boasting of a sufficient standard of living. For Maoris, they remained a permanent voice in political and social life, having resisted genocide. To be sure, there is no distinction between visible and invisible worlds or spiritual and physical beings, and “culture is the invisible sum of all things.”
As Prime Minister John Key (who was a US banker) tried to reassure New Zealanders a final agreement would be reached, foreign consulates warned their citizens to stay away from the marchers. But citizens deciding their future, a genuinely democratic and sustainable one, should never be feared. What should instead be of grave concern is a corporate-fascist empire encompassing the Pacific region, causing more extreme climate change while exploiting people and resources. Seeing that other overkills were stopped just in time, can the Land of the Long White Cloud also prevent TPP Overkill?
If Key and the rest of the people of New Zealand and Pacific region are incapable of seeing their own cultures as the invisible sum of all things, “the TPP’s trunk” will be unleashed, inducing irreversible, even “total” and permanent overkills. Indeed, recall the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior and murder of Fernando Pereira. It not only exposed the corruption of the financial elite and their brand of corporate fascism, but it uncovered the evil intent of absolute leaders. If the TPP’s trunk is allowed to be opened, there will be many more overkills and tragedies like the bombing and sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.
- Hughes, Donald. An Environmental History Of the World. New York, New York: Routledge Press, 2009., pp. 98-99.
- Johansen, Bruce E. Indigenous Peoples And Environmental Issues. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2003., p. 275.