• Ban pokies - protect whānau
    Last year pokie machines took in $890 million from New Zealand communities. This doesn't include the $586 million lost at casinos. The pokie business model is predatory by its nature, relying on the highly addictive design of the machines, and targets people on low incomes. In wealthy areas of our country there is one pokie machine for every 465 people, whereas in poorer areas there is one for every 75 people. This means that much of that $890 million came directly from the pockets of families in hardship. Most recently, the South Waikato District Council approved a site permit for a new mega gambling centre in Tokoroa, a town where many families already face the stresses of unemployment, insecure work and low wages. Former New Zealander of the Year, Dr Lance O'Sullivan has described this plan as "disgraceful" and "predatory". Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said that reducing child poverty is the reason she got into politics, and has taken on specific responsibility for this as the Minister for Child Poverty reduction. Her government has committed to setting bold goals for reducing poverty, and identified a range of policies that would help to do this. One simple step the Prime Minister could take, which would immediately reduce whānau poverty, would be to ban pokie machines in New Zealand. These machines are highly addictive, and do enormous harm to some of the families doing it toughest in our country. This harm is supposedly justified because a portion of the gambling profits is distributed to community and sports groups. This means the families who are worst off in our communities are not only being exploited by predatory gambling businesses, but also that the people least able to do so are subsidising community services that should be funded by everyone fairly, through taxes. This makes no sense at all. Please add your voice to the call on our Prime Minister to protect families from predatory gambling businesses by banning all pokies now. References: Pokie statistics from Problem Gambling Foundation NZ: https://www.pgf.nz/pokie-statistics.html Ban pokies to reduce child poverty, Newshub: http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/11/ban-pokies-to-reduce-child-poverty-lance-o-sullivan-to-pm.html Mega-gambling centre in Tokoroa: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/99550519/tokoroa-mega-gaming-venue-looks-at-tab
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  • Take abortion out of the Crimes Act!
    The 40th anniversary of this law is a great chance to reflect on whether it's working, and it isn't. In 2017 abortion remains on the Crimes Act [1], and the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act requires people seeking an abortion and medical staff to jump through hoops (and often lie) to obtain 'approval' for the procedure [2]. Ninety eight percent of abortions are only 'allowed' on the mental health grounds [3]. This is despite the majority of New Zealanders supporting abortion being totally legal [4]. It's time to reform the law, remove abortion from the Crimes Act, and allow the decision to have an abortion to stay between the person and their GP. References: [1] http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM329351.html [2] https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/watch-kiwi-women-seeking-abortions-have-basically-lie-and-say-theyre-mentally-ill [3] http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/8564531/Alter-abortion-law-to-reflect-real-grounds-call [4] http://alranz.org/change-the-law/2017-national-poll-results/
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  • Stop the industrial water consents!
    In 2016, some private business owners (including industrial horticulturalists) began applying to Northland Regional Council (NRC) for resource consents to extract water from our aquifer in Te Hiku.[1,2,3] Together known as the Motutangi-Waiharara Water Users Group (MWWUG) they have applied to pump up to 2-million-cubic-metres a year from the Aupouri aquifer, north of Kaitaia. By 'limited' notification on 27 October 2017, NRC announced it was considering these applications. The scale and the ramifications of the proposal from the MWWUG greatly concerns those of us who have been attempting to protect our underground water supply for several decades. We are very concerned that consent decisions will be based largely on financial and profit-making concerns, and fail to give proper regard to important environmental, social and cultural values of this community resource. The industrial avocado industry has been described as a ‘gold rush’, with the perception that NRC allocates water rights on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. Such an approach is incompatible with the required “sustainable” management of our precious freshwater resources. Expert peer reviewed hydrology advice says the overall take could lower water tables in some areas on the peninsula by about 2 metres at peak times, and that in turn could affect existing bores and wells.[4] The Northland Environmental Protection Society president Fiona Furrell has said there was insufficient data or monitoring of the aquifer, to allow much more than guesswork on the likely effects of the water-take. She said the greatest danger was salination as the aquifer came under pressure, which would ruin Aupouri's many tiny lakes and wetlands.[5] NRC’s MWWUG aquifer resource consent decision-making process so far has demonstrably failed to meet its good governance and decision-making obligations, especially with respect to tangata whenua/whānau, hapū and iwi. We call on NRC to STOP this consents process unless and until all affected ratepayers, tangata whenua and wider community have had the meaningful opportunity to effectively participate in proper, good faith consultation with NRC about these applications - including comprehensive, transparent engagement about the full effects and implications of the proposed freshwater extraction for (1) our natural environment, (2) our human rights to access safe drinking water, and (3) community well-being. We also call on all responsible authorities, elected officials, business and industry and wider civil society to actively support and encourage NRC to do what's right to protect our aquifer, our human rights to water and democratic decision-making. We are in an age of unprecedented and converging climate, economic, geo-political and other crises which threaten habitat collapse, societal implosion and humanity's very existence. Without water, there is no Life. Therefore, Aotearoa must build local resilience. To achieve this, we must restore and protect our freshwater ways and systems which are under relentless exploitation pressure from business and industry, and in steep decline. All responsible authorities are also obliged to uphold their legal and moral obligations to its citizens and to the natural environment - under Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840, the Local Government Act 2002, Resource Management Act 1991, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 and other internationally recognized standards. For more campaign information, see: ♣ Our "Aquifer Protection Action!" page at https://www.catherinemikenn.com/copy-of-community-action; and ♣ Our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1105337399603221/ References: 1 - Limited Notification - Motutangi-Waiharara Water Users Group (MWWUG) https://www.nrc.govt.nz/Consents/Notified-resource-consents/limited-notification-motutangi-waiharara-water-users-group-mwwug/ 2 - Water use worries http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/northland-age/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503399&objectid=11947026 3, 4, 5 - Water worries as avocado industry spreads to Far North https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/country/343325/water-worries-as-avocado-industry-spreads-to-far-north
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  • Taihoa on the water bottling plant planned for Murupara
    New Zealand Aquifer, a private company trading as Murupara No 1 and Murupara No 2, in partnership with Te Runanga o Ngati Manawa and an as yet unknown foreign investor is proposing to construct a water-bottling plant in Murupara which would extract up to 18 million litres per day.[1] The creation and expansion of a water export industry on Murupara could have severe and wide-reaching consequences for the management of this critically important public resource. The petitioners ask that the Whakatane District Council cast a wide net to engage the community and the iwi in consultation and to conduct an environmental impact study prior to approving any water consent. There has been no meaningful consultation done with whanau and hapu of Murupara, many of whom have real concerns about this proposal. The company behind the project has a record of failed projects and it’s claims of ‘no impact’ is not realistic with such huge amounts of water being taken. The claims of 500 new jobs also seem exaggerated.[2,3] We ask the Murupara Community Board to resource a community-wide consultation to provide a means by which local residents can contribute to and influence the discussion about this proposed venture. Please support the Murupara community’s urgent request for full transparency and engagement to achieve the best outcome for our pure water source. 1 - Plans to build NZ's biggest water-bottling plant http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/11/plans-to-build-nz-s-biggest-water-bottling-plant.html 2- Missing history in bottling bonanza reports http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018622593/missing-history-in-bottling-bonanza-reports 3 - Ashburton council reneges on controversial water bottling deal http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=11672314 4 - Director of water bottling plant has yet another attempt http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/director-of-water-bottling-plant-has-yet-another-attempt/
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  • Let's limit single-use plastic plant pots
    If we're banning single use plastic bags why not plastic pots? By growing our own vegetables, fruit and plants we are trying to be more eco-conscious, sustainable and enjoy their benefits - but polluting the environment with plastic waste to do so, does not make sense. One plastics recycling drive by gardening stores in the USA brought in 4.5 tonnes of plastic in each store! [1] While we appreciate that some keen gardeners reuse their plastic pots, most will end up in landfills - this is because many recycling centres do not accept them. There are smaller independent retailers who sell in biodegradable pots which shows it can be done. Many larger retailers are hesitant to change, it's up to us to demand it. We need non-plastic options so we can choose the way we buy our seedlings and plants! 1 - https://www.lowes.com/cd_Garden+Center+Gets+Greener+With+Recycling_283670888_
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  • Remove barriers to Māori Wards on Councils
    In 2016 a petition signed by over 5% of the population led to a referendum that blocked the establishment of a Māori ward on the Taranaki Council.[1] The mayor at the time Andrew Judd said “"This is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation. It is the modern day version of something from 1840, a Crown law to control Maori." A Māori Ward is a seat or seats on a Council that works to guarantee Māori representation. Only people enrolled on the Maori electoral roll can vote in a Maori ward, the same way as the general electorate Māori seats work. Māori Wards on Councils can presently be blocked by a citizens initiated referendum, in the city, district or region that has voted to establish a Māori ward. Five per cent of the voting public can challenge a Council decision to establish a Māori Ward, which means Māori interests will almost always be defeated in this process. No other ward decision, including rural wards, can be forced to a binding poll and Māori Wards should be given the same standing. We ask for this discriminatory legislation to be removed from the law. At present there is very low participation by Māori in local body politics. [2] Māori wards have been established successfully on other councils such as Waikato's Regional Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Te Wairoa and most recently in Whakatane and Bay of Plenty. Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne said it was important to foster strong and meaningful relationships with Maori across the district and ensuring that Te Ao Māori was recognised and supported at the council table.[3] “Māori wards would not only enrich the culture of councils by sharing knowledge about Māori history, significant sites but would also provide appropriate support to address issues facing Māori and others in their respective regions.” Marama Fox.[4] Submissions to the Parliamentary inquiry into the 2016 Local Body elections close on the 31st December. Make a submission today in support of the petition by former New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd for a fair go for Māori wards.[5] The petition asks that “the House of Representatives consider a law change to make the establishment of Māori wards on district councils follow the same legal framework as establishing other wards on district councils”. Make a submission today using this form. Make an official submission today to the Justice Select Committee using this easy form. Final date is 29 November 2017. Your submission will be collated and sent together in support of the petition of Andrew Judd supporting "a law change to make the establishment of Māori wards on district councils follow the same legal framework as establishing other wards on district councils”. Your submission will show the level of support to the Justice Committee in its consideration of Māori representation in local politics. References 1 - Watch: Andrew Judd: How the Taranaki Maori ward debate began https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NS3jmhBcTM 2 - Māori representation in local government https://www.hrc.co.nz/your-rights/indigenous-rights/our-work/maori-representation-local-government/ 3 - Whakatane District Council votes in favour of Maori wards http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11944204 4 - Petition calling for Māori seats in local government http://www.maoriparty.org/maori_party_to_present_petition_calling_for_maori_seats_in_local_government 5 - Inquiry into the 2016 Local Authority Elections https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/committees-press-releases/have-your-say-on-the-inquiry-into-the-2016-local-authority-elections/
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  • Tell PM Jacinda Ardern to stay strong on Manus
    28 Nov 2017 - Update: Thousands of outraged Australians demonstrated on Sunday in the major cities after the month-long stand-off at the refugee centre on Manus Island ended violently on Friday. Police carrying batons raided the centre and forced out about 330 remaining refugees and asylum seekers. Yesterday a group of priests locked themselves to the Australian Prime Minister’s front gate in protest. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Vision, Oxfam, Rhodes Scholars, Australian Medical Association have all spoken out, asking for the Australian government to show humanity and compassion. Our own Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been outspoken with her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull, from their very first meeting, and raised it consistently in the media, but she needs to know the public are behind her on this sensitive issue. Not everyone understands these are genuine refugees who deserve a new start. Let Jacinda know we’re behind her and to keep the offer open to bring the refugees here. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reaffirms pledge to take Manus Island refugees http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11947867 22 Nov 2017 - It's been three weeks since water, food, power and medical services were cut to the Manus Island Detention Camp. But nearly 400 men remain inside. The UN has called it a 'humanitarian crisis' — while the Australian Government are doing everything they can to shirk responsibility for the men successive governments have unlawfully detained on Manus for more than four years.[1,2] But our Government is refusing turn a blind eye to our government's human rights abuses. For the last three weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has offered time and time again to help resettle 150 of the men detained on Manus Island. She's making sure Australia can’t hide from its responsibilities, and she’s also making progress — with media reporting that Australian and NZ officials are finally beginning to discuss screening procedures for refugees.[3] She’s getting some criticism and comments that we’re risking our friendly relationship with Australia. But real friendship is about being both kind and firm, especially when there is harm being done to others. As the situation continues to spiral downwards on Manus — the only way to avoid further injury, illness or death is for these men to be immediately evacuated to safety while a longer term solution is found. A permanent resettlement process will take at least five months to implement from the point it is agreed.[4] We need to show our PM that the ActionStation community stands behind her calls for action, and urge her to keep the pressure on the Australian Parliament to evacuate the camp. Can you send Jacinda Ardern an email commending her actions and calling on her to go further? References: 1 - Humanitarian emergency, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/18/australia-must-act-to-stop-humanitarian-emergency-in-manus-says-unhcr 2 - Refugees Trapped Far From Home, Farther From Deliverance https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/18/world/australia/manus-island-australia-detainees.html?_r=0 3 - Australia, New Zealand start talks about Manus refugees screening process, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/11/20/australia-new-zealand-start-talks-about-manus-refugees-screening-process 4 - New Zealand will give $2.7m to Manus and Nauru refugees http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/jacinda-ardern-new-zealand-will-give-27m-to-manus-and-nauru-refugees-20171114-gzlj5m.html 5 - Nothing prepared me for Australia's refugee camp http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11946142 6 - https://theconversation.com/three-charts-on-whats-going-on-at-manus-island-87354
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  • Protect Timaru's Penguins
    There is an abundance of dedicated spaces for dogs to exercise in the Timaru district (http://bit.ly/2z3PD4N). The little blue penguins (kororā) that nest at Caroline Bay, however, do not have such luxuries. We are exceptionally lucky to have a breeding colony of endangered penguins (kororā) so close to our town centre. After a short drive or walk, we can watch them come ashore — undeterred by traffic and noise from the port just metres away. Research shows that dogs pose the biggest threat to little blue penguins (kororā) across New Zealand (http://bit.ly/2z0ou2n). They are vulnerable when they walk from their nests to the ocean in the morning before the sun rises, and again when they come in to feed their chicks at night. During the day, chicks are left behind in the burrows where they are vulnerable to dogs, which follow their natural instincts to sniff out the strong smelling birds. In summer when this change would take effect, the earliest sunrise is 5:44am and the latest is 7:50am. If Timaru District Council allows dogs on the beach during the proposed times of 5am - 9am (as announced by Councillor Sally Parker on her Facebook page) this allows a full 2 hours and 50 minutes during which there is an increased chance that a penguin could be attacked or killed by a dog being walked on the beach. August through until March are the most important months for little blue penguins (kororā) to mate, lay their eggs, raise their chicks, and come ashore to moult. The loss of one or both parents means the chick will not survive, so protecting them during the full breeding season is critical. Even if you’re cynical about the intrinsic value of nature, the penguins are an increasingly important part of our local economy. Compared with other towns in the region, Timaru has relatively few tourist attractions. We know the penguins can have up to 100 visitors in a night. Some people visit specifically to see them and contribute significantly to the local economy by staying in hotels, eating out, and contributing to local businesses. You only need to look at Oamaru’s success to see their potential to open a new avenue for tourism in the region. If you have not done so recently, we strongly encourage you to visit Caroline Bay one evening to watch the penguins come in. You will see how special these birds are and quickly learn that people from Timaru and beyond are exceptionally proud to have them breeding in the bay.
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  • Introduce universal free dental care
    Many people can’t afford dental check ups, or are put off going to the dentist because of the costs associated with treatment. Dentists are finding tooth conditions associated with countries with much higher levels of poverty than New Zealand, because dental care is expensive for so many of us.[1] The last national dental survey found that about half of New Zealand's population had put off dental treatment they knew they needed because of the cost.[2,3] Dental care is understandably a highly regulated industry and the costs of running a dental clinic are therefore very high. There are also not enough dentists in some regions. It can cost a lot just to get a checkup, putting people off from getting regular review of the health of their teeth. Basic dental services are provided up until 18 - ending at a crucial time when young people are leaving home and are financially constrained. Dental care can take second place to more urgent living costs when under financial stress, putting off care until more serious problems occur. If dental problems are taken care of early it can save a lot more money later on. Left untreated, dental infections can spread leading to serious and sometimes life threatening illnesses that require hospitalisation. Poor oral health has also been linked to conditions like heart disease and diabetes which financially burden the health care system. Further, poor oral health is associated with poorer self-reported quality of life and negatively impacts on employment prospects. A Ministry of Health survey shows that dental problems have an indirect cost to society, with one in ten adults aged 18–64 years taking an average of 2.1 days off work or school in the previous year due to problems with their teeth or mouth.[4] An affordable and accessible dental care service would catch health problems before they become too serious, reduce barriers to good health for our whole population and reducing later health costs. In the meantime there are specific steps that can be taken to improve access to dental care now. To begin with we can take concrete steps to remove cost barriers to good dental care - 1. Subsidise dental care for at-need communities; 2. Age for access to free dental care increased to 20; Sign now to ask the new Minister of Health David Clark to take these concrete steps for better access to dental care for everyone. Media 1 - Making dental care affordable to those who need it most should be a priority – dentist, 20/11/17 https://www.facebook.com/Breakfaston1/videos/10155785527952719/ 2 - Former Prime Minister Helen Clark https://twitter.com/HelenClarkNZ/status/931265560838529024 3 - "Dental decay remains the most prevalent chronic (and irreversible) disease in New Zealand" http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/our-oral-health-key-findings-2009-new-zealand-oral-health-survey 4 - Smile NZ to provide free dental care for low income Kiwis https://www.southerncross.co.nz/group/media-releases/2016/Smile-NZ-to-provide-free-dental-care-for-low-income-Kiwis 5 - Helen Clark calls for Govt to implement free dental care, 17/1117 http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/politics/helen-clark-calls-for-govt-to-implement-free-dental-care/ 6 - Dental expert says dental care in NZ treated like 'luxury', calls for funding overhaul 20/11/17 https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/dental-expert-says-care-in-nz-treated-like-luxury-calls-funding-overhaul
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  • AA New Zealand - improve representation of members and all road users
    It's really important that New Zealand's largest non-government democratic organisation reflects the diversity of the membership. The AA has more than 1.4 million members throughout New Zealand, and yet the present Board is 100% male.[1] While the National Council is elected from active members, the organisation should be doing much more to encourage members belonging to groups under-represented on the National Council and Board - particularly women, Maori and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, people with disabilities and younger people. This lack of representation means the needs of its membership are not truly being met and the organisation is not meeting its full potential. AA is an important institution in New Zealand, a powerful lobby group with a long history and huge potential to do good for the country. In advocating for a better and safer driving environment for New Zealanders it is crucial it is talking to all its members. The priorities of the organisation need to be guided by the needs of all communities - and people with more diverse backgrounds at the governance will level create better outcomes for members and the country as a whole.[2] 1 - http://www.aa.co.nz/about/the-aa/governance/board/ 2 - https://diversityworksnz.org.nz/benefits-of-diversity/
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  • Bring Them Here: NZ should urgently welcome 700+ refugees in danger on Manus Island
    Dear Ms Ardern and Mr Lees-Galloway, On 31st October 2017, the Australian Government will close its Manus Island offshore detention centre, abandoning over 700 asylum seekers and refugees, some of whom have been held there for many years. In doing so, the Australian Government leaves these refugees in an extremely precarious situation, where local people have threatened violence against them if they remain on the island outside of the detention centre [https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/25/australia/png-refugees-face-unchecked-violence]. This situation is unacceptable for both local people and refugees being held on Manus. Local people on Manus Island were never consulted about the offshore detention centres and although the Papua New Guinea government has received huge payments from Australia, little of this has trickled through to local villagers - causing unrest, as their lives have been disrupted by the centres [https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/27/manus-island-closure-faces-local-opposition-and-legal-challenge]. The Papua New Guinean Supreme Court ruled the detention centre illegal in 2016 because it breached the asylum seekers’ fundamental human rights [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-26/png-court-rules-asylum-seeker-detention-manus-island-illegal/7360078], which is why it is now being closed. Refugees, who attempted to flee terrible situations in their home countries have now been thrust into a new nightmare. Some have been held in the offshore detention centre in Manus for years [https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/statistics/aust/asylum-stats/detention-australia-statistics/]. Conditions have been horrific in the detention centre and many experience psychological trauma due to their uncertain future. Many have taken their own lives in desperation and others have died in unclear circumstances [http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/thebordercrossingobservatory/publications/australian-border-deaths-database/]. Some have been forcibly repatriated to their home countries where they are unsafe [https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/aug/21/asylum-seeker-on-manus-forcibly-returned-to-iran-amid-court-challenge]. The Australian government, as a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, should be responsible for these refugees, regardless of how they entered Australian territory to seek asylum. Instead, the government brought them to Manus Island as part of their ‘Pacific Solution’ policy of preventing any people fleeing war or persecution reaching safety in Australia if they seek asylum by boat. It is very clear that Australia is washing their hands of these people, in the same way that they washed their hands of the refugees who tried to reach Australia on the Tampa. On 31st October, they will shut off water, electricity and sewage systems to the detention centre and give the people the choice to either be moved to Nauru, another of their offshore prisons, or to remain in a nearby town where they will be extremely unsafe [http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/food-water-power-to-be-cut-at-manus-island-centre-as-refugees-forced-to-depart-20171020-gz51r9.html]. We demand that the New Zealand government do what the Australian Government will not. We should show manaakitanga, take a strong stand for justice and welcome these desperate people to Aotearoa New Zealand immediately.
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  • Open letter to Jacinda Ardern: Put People and Planet first in TPPA-11
    In less than two weeks Jacinda Ardern will be heading to Vietnam to try to finalise the TPPA-11 deal. As it stands, the TPPA-11 is nearly identical to the original TPPA. Both agreements have been negotiated in secret with no chance for meaningful public participation. This is not how democracy should work. If the TPPA-11 is signed, New Zealand would have to either change or freeze national laws to suit the interests of overseas investors from the other TPPA countries. It would restrict the ability of the current and future governments to respond to the needs of their citizens and the natural environment. Our ability to clean up our rivers, address climate change and fix the housing market would all be undermined. Let's encourage Jacinda to put the deal on hold until the new government can develop a fresh trade policy taking into account the views of New Zealanders. For more information on TPPA-11 see: https://itsourfuture.org.nz/tppa-1/
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