Tokoroa stands with Standing Rock protest
Brendan and Jennifer James want the Native American protesters at Standing Rock in North Dakota to know Tokoroa is with them.
The Tokoroa couple have been protesting at Lake Moananui with a large banner to show their support for the Sioux tribe which has been opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) over their ancestral lands since April, violation of sacred sites, and environmental degradation including that of clean water and the impact of fossil fuels.
Brendan said after hearing about what was going on in North Dakota via Facebook he felt he had to do something.
‘‘It started off with my wife Jennifer taking an interest and I started having a look into it too and felt empathy with the injustice,’’ he said.
‘‘They have already taken the indigenous people’s land over there and they are arresting them for trespassing on that same land. It is madness and it makes no sense.’’
‘‘They are doing what we are doing, just standing in peaceful protest and saying this is what we stand for. They want clean water and they are losing their burial and other sacred sites.’’
He said authorities have gone ‘‘overboard’’ in their handling of the situation.
‘‘They are tasering them and pepper spraying them in large volumes,’’ he said.
‘‘The thing is for me it is not just them either, it is in Papua New Guinea with the Indonesians being kicked off their lands for gold mining, the Aborigines are losing theirs in Australia for the same thing, and it is happening all around the world to indigenous people and it needs to stop.’’
Brendan said he and his wife have received nothing but praise for what they are doing during their protest.
‘‘We have had a lot of people asking what we are doing here and some knew about Standing Rock and some had no idea so we were able to fill them in and explain,’’ he said.
‘‘We have had Black Power, Mongrel Mob, police, and the local council and all have shown support which is great.’’
Similar protests have been held throughout New Zealand and Brendan encouraged those wanting to show their support to do so through Facebook.
The Facebook group, titled Haka for Standing Rock, was created by TV personality and former Mana candidate Te Hamua Nikora, who had composed a haka for Maori to perform in a show of solidarity.
A video of a New Zealand performing a haka at the site was posted online and has since been watched by thousands. The Facebook group now has more than 10,000 members.
Brendan and Jennifer James with their banner at Lake Moananui in support of the Standing Rock protesters.