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Activists protest dairy, gas, and fertiliser industries 142 years since the invasion of Parihaka

21 November, 2023

Interview by Rosetta Stone, adapted by Sofia Roger Williams

Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson, Tuhi-Ao Bailey, says that ongoing colonial extraction of natural resources is the main reason preventing Māori from getting their land back.

On 5 November 1881, the western Taranaki settlement of Parihaka was invaded by British troops.

Several Māori were arrested without trial, and the settlement, including its cultivation and livestock, was destroyed. 

2023 marks 142 years since the invasion of Parihaka, and to this day, Māori are still fighting for their land back.

In commemoration of Parihaka, activists blockaded three dairy, gas, and fertiliser industries to bring attention to how these industries contribute to Māori land confiscation and the climate crisis. 

Roughly 50 activists shut down the Whareroa Fonterra Dairy factory, the Kapuni Ballance fertiliser factory, and the Todd Energy gas plant.

Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson, Tuhi-Ao Bailey, told 95bFM’s The Wire that the effects of European expansion during the Industrial Revolution are at the centre of the climate crisis.  

During the industrial period, Aotearoa began relying on machinery run by fossil fuels to manage and expand our agriculture industry.

Over half of Aotearoa’s land is used for agricultural industries, which Bailey says is the “main reason [Māori] cannot get their land back”, and why New Zealanders have fewer opportunities to own a home; being crammed into cities, as opposed to owning plots of land.

Bailey says the continued exploitation of New Zealand’s natural resources, stems from European colonisation.

“That colonial extraction product project is still going on, and still thriving.” 

She says most of the pollution in Aotearoa comes from big, rich, and powerful industries that exploit resources out of “greed” and “fear”. 

The Dairy industry is one of Aotearoa’s largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but 95% of dairy products made in New Zealand are exported overseas.

To those that argue that agricultural industries fuel New Zealand’s economy, Bailey asserts that while that may currently be the case, it is not a long-term, sustainable source of revenue for the country. 

“It certainly won't be once fossil fuels are too expensive or completely unavailable… it has to reform.”

Bailey believes that if we can recognise the connection between the climate crisis and colonialism, we can resolve pressing issues that Aotearoa grapples with. 

By targeting high-emitting industries and holding them accountable, Climate Justice Taranaki hopes to push them to “stop being greedy and do the right thing” for their communities.

Bailey says the organisation wants to see the end of dairy exports and overhaul the agricultural industry.

Listen to the full interview

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air