False start for Occupy protest march

A planned march at the Octagon to highlight the cause of the Occupy Dunedin movement did not proceed today.

A handful of supporters and a police contingent of three officers showed up to the Octagon for the 11.11am start of the demonstration.

They were informed the march was not going ahead given "an advertising deadline'' to promote the event had been missed.

Spokesman Kieran Trass said the planned 11.11 march would instead take place on November 11.

He said he was not disappointed about the low turnout of supporters for today's planned event.

"We don't judge like that. This is not a numbers game for us. This is an occupation - a peaceful way of expressing our views,'' he said.

Those who did gather at the Octagon today listened to speeches given by promoters of a movement to recognise Parihaka Day as a formal commemoration.

Parihaka Day supporter Bruce Hamill spoke about the "connections'' between the Occupy movement and the peaceful protests of the Maori community at the Parihaka settlement in Taranaki in 1881.

A movement to commerorate Parihaka Day on November 5 has sprung up as a campaign to formally recognise the date, instead of its usual association with Guy Fawkes Day.

Celebrating the "life of a Dutch-English terrorist'' for the past 130 years, instead of the more worthwhile cause of an important part of New Zealand history was wrong, Mr Hamill said.

Dunedin had historic connections to the Parihaka movement, Mana Party member Andrew Tait told those at the Octagon yesterday.

The Maori leaders of the Taranaki peace settlement, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, were imprisoned in Dunedin as a result of the violent break-up by government forces of the community in 1881, he said.

Features of Dunedin, such as the first Anderson's Bay road to Otago Peninsula and also Maori Rd through the town belt were built and named after those who were interred at prison camps to labour at the sites, he said.

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