Aurora Garner-Randolph from School Strike 4 Climate protests outside an aerospace conference at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre. Iain McGregor / The Press
By Tatania Gibbs,
Published by The Christchurch Press, 11 September 2023
An “unwelcome party” blared car horns, blew whistles and smashed pots and pans on repeat outside the New Zealand Aerospace Summit in Christchurch this week.
Peace, climate and environment justice groups protested outside Te Pae, Christchurch’s convention centre on Monday, about the environmental and ethical implications of expanding the aerospace industry.
The group also flew own attention-grabbing kite rockets in the shape of phallic symbols, with well-known faces on them such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.
Protesters were from Stop The Space Waste, Space For Peace Aotearoa, Rocket Lab Monitor, School Strike 4 Climate, Auckland Peace Action and Pacific Panthers.
“We’re not welcoming you and your ideas around military takeover, and creating domains where militarism and carbonisation continues,” Pacific Panthers spokesperson Te Ao Pritchard said.
“The impact on the whenua (land) and human wellness is quite devastating and we want to object to that.”
Rocket Lab launched a satellite in March 2021 called Gunsmoke-J, which tested technologies that support the development of the US Army. The move angered locals in Māhia, a small Hawke’s Bay community between Napier and Gisborne.
The two-day summit is organised by Aerospace New Zealand, a not-for-profit organisation, to inspire new innovation and maximise networking in the industry.
The space sector is worth $1.69 billion to the New Zealand economy, and 12,000 people are working to support the sector.
Auckland Peace Action spokesperson Eliana Darroch said there was “nothing sustainable about growing a highly polluting industry”.
“[The industry] has a vast climate impact, rips holes in our o-zone layer with rockets, contributes to the pollution of the night sky, and implicates New Zealand in foreign military weapon targeting systems and surveillance.”
Protest group Rocket Lab Monitor said Lockheed Martin – “the world’s largest weapons’ manufacturer” – was a gold sponsor of the New Zealand Aerospace Summit.
The group said Rocket Lab served military clients and launched a range of weapons from its New Zealand launchpad in Mahia, a small Hawke’s Bay community between Napier and Gisborne.
The Aerospace Summit was “morally corrupt” and weaponising space, said Aurora Garner-Randolph, 17, from School Strike 4 Climate.
“Christchurch is meant to be a peace city but Rocket Lab and Lockheed Martin who are in that conference today do not stand for peace, they stand for war and they stand against values that Aotearoa should hold dear.”
Aerospace New Zealand committee member Catherine Moreau Hammond said Rocket Lab was an “important participant in the New Zealand market“ and met Government policy and regulatory requirements.
Hammond said the theme of this year’s summit was “Launching a Sustainable Future”, considering how to grow the sector sustainably with the next generation in mind.
“Aviation is key in connecting people, and we use satellites to predict weather, track climate change, help with disaster relief, plan cities, and manage air traffic,” she said.
“The organisers recognise the right to peaceful protest, however it is deeply disappointing that a small group of demonstrators are stating intent to damage property.”
Rocket Lab Monitor said in a statement the “time seems to have arrived” to start “disrupting business as usual and damaging property” to get attention.
A second protest is planned outside Te Pae at 8am on Tuesday.
See: Original Article