Glen Innes community – telling the story of our national housing crisis

Protest against the removal of state houses from the Glen Innes community.

The might of the police force showed up in big numbers and stood potently aimed at the Glenn Ines community protestors on Thursday night. This weekly protest is also being used as training ground for new police recruits and to sharpen up police operations in what will become increasing days of resistance. Security guards, many who are Māori, were at their stations to protect the vacant houses that were ready for removal. Truck drivers, also many who are Māori, were gearing up to drive houses away. I caught a flavour of umbrage when a driver vocalised his frustration at protestors who stood in the way of him doing his ‘job’. There was plenty of flow back from the protestors to the truck drivers as well. Glen Innes protestors and supporters from elsewhere have been there every Thursday night for months because Thursday is when the houses gets taken. Last Thursday night the government gave a big symbolic ‘up yours’ to the community efforts – by taking three houses all at once. Some protestors are able to front the resistant line each week. They group to block the path of the trucks. Other supporters and Glen Innes community members were poised a little to the side but their purpose was to document, record, cheer and encourage.

Me, standing safely away but where I can still see, hear and feel the events unfold. I had my children with me because I had no one to watch them. But I needed to be there to be able to write this. Besides, it won’t be the last time my kids are by my side at a protest.

Those who were not there do not even care. Physically absent from this street fight is John Key, Phil Heatley, land developers who will make a mean deal out of this and  private landlords who will handsomely capitalise on this blatant cheap selling off of state assets. Those are the people who are not on the ground to smell the stench of their own foul dealings.

Meanwhile all of us subordinates – the police so keen to follow brutal orders, the security guards whose companies compete for any work, the truck drivers and house movers putting food on the table for their kids, the protestors and families of the Glenn Innes community and those of us who are just concerned mothers – are the people on the ground in this ugly mess.

It is about knowing what we’re dealing with. That’s all I got right now.

Marama Davidson
Concerned Mama
(Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou)