In March 2019, 50 anarchists from across Aotearoa and even further afield, gathered for the first time in a decade for discussions, strategising and building networks and relationships. Back in April 2009, the Wildcat Anarchist Collective organised a two-day conference at the Newtown Community Centre in Wellington. An anarchist bookfair was held in Wellington in 2014, but no attempt of bringing the movement together has been made for ten years.
The newly founded group Tāmaki Makaurau Anarchists has brought new energy and among its members a desire to network and collaborate with others. Together with the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement, Wellington’s Freedom Shop and Black Star Books in Dunedin, they are the only functioning explicit anarchist group on these islands at the moment (although there are others that are lingering around like Rebel Press, Communalism Aotearoa and Beyond Resistance)
The gathering was held at a marae in Parihaka, in coastal Taranaki. Parihaka has a long history of resistance to colonialism, sustainable living and community gardening. You can read more about Parihaka’s past, present and future on their website.
Between sunrise and sunset each day (with both being accompanied by karakia) we had sessions on indigenisation, feminism, environmentalism and the future of anarchism in Aotearoa.
In between these sessions, we had workshops on mental health and feminist self-defence, a tour of Parihaka, a trip to the food forest and gardening with the sun beaming down on us and mounga Taranaki looming over us.
While we didn’t solve the world’s problems, the feedback on the last day and in a subsequent questionnaire was largely positive with people keen to meet again next summer and even making it a day or so longer.
An anarchist housing network (similar to couchsurfing) was re-started at the hui and a call was made for further collaboration between existing groups. It was also clear that anti-racism, anti-fascism and working on constitutional reform is key focal point for many.
Two comrades from Collective Action, a Melbourne based anarchist group, participated in the discussions and it was great to share ideas and views on what’s happening in Australia.
All in all, the hui was a success, with old friendships being renewed and new relationships being created through kōrero and whakawhanaungatanga.
It is envisaged that these hui will take place annually from now on, as through these and other forms of anarchist gatherings and coordination, we can now safely say: anarchy has returned to Aotearoa!