The Noho Hewa documentary trailer.
Report – By Pacific Media Watch
A major conference to be held in Auckland over ANZAC weekend will throw the spotlight on militarisation around the Pacific.
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is holding its Asia-Pacific conference at the Auckland University of Technology. The conference is being co-sponsored by Peace Movement Aotearoa and AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.
“Most New Zealanders are familiar with the consequences of militarisation and violence in Fiji, or with French military nuclear testing, but perhaps they are less aware of the many other forms that militarisation is taking throughout our region right now,” says WILPF Aotearoa president Céline Kearney.
Kearney said some of these forms of militarisation included military spending last year by Australia of US$24 billion.
New Zealand’s military spending in the current financial year is more than NZ$3.26 billion.
Though it accounts for less than 1 percent of Japan’s total area, Okinawa is now home to about 75 percent of US bases in Japan and half its 50,000 troops. Military facilities take up a fifth of the island.
Controversially, Futenma, a sprawling US marine base, is to be relocated from a heavily populated part of Okinawa to an unspoiled location on the island’s northeast coast, as the allies attempt to lessen the island’s military burden.
Opposed by islanders
The move is opposed by most islanders, including the residents of Nago, whose city lies near the proposed site for the new base.
“Our conference in Auckland will discuss many dimensions of militarisation in the Pacific, as it brings together women from around the region with a longstanding commitment to peace and non-violent conflict resolution,” said Kearney.
“When national governments choose to spend money on arms and military bases they are choosing not to spend money on other things – the sorts of things that collectively might help their populations to lead healthier, more educated and productive lives”.
Peace activists from the Philippines, Japan, Tahiti Polynesia, Australia, New Zealand and Hawai’i will attend the conference. These include native Hawai’ian filmmaker Anne Keala Kelly, sponsored by Peace Movement Aotearoa and who will host two screenings of Noho Hewa: the wrongful occupation of Hawai’i, a powerful portrayal of the multiple links between militarisation and the historical and ongoing processes of colonisation – at AUT in Auckland on Friday, April 25, and in Wellington on Friday, May 2.
Author, poet, scholar and painter Albert Wendt has called the documentary “a brilliant, incisive, and complex expose of colonialism (American and other) and its devastating effects on Kanaka Maoli, the indigenous people of Hawai’i, and their land”.
The documentary features interviews with Native Hawai’ian academics and activists and some extraordinary original footage documenting both the relentless expansion of the militarised occupation and the determined resistance of Native Hawaiians.
Sound track music by Sudden Rush, Billy Bragg, Jon Osorio, Black Square, and Kamehameha Projects reinforces the emotional impact of Kelly’s story, and demonstrates the beauty and power of social and political commentary through the arts.
Source: Pacific Media Watch 8566