Forum Mon: Kanak activists talk environmental protest and independence
October 31, 2013 1 Comment
Monday, November 4, 7.30pm, Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd Grey Lynn, Auckland
Florent Eurisouke and his uncle Jojo are from a prominent Kanak family from the province of Houailou on the east coast of Grande Terre, the large island of New Caledonia, Kanaky.
Their people’s ancestral tribal land includes the rugged and nickel rich Cap Boccage, a peninsula appropriated in the 19th century by the Ballande family originally from Bordeaux. The Ballande family are what they call ‘Petit mineurs’ (little miners) which is misleading as their Cap Boccage nickel mining operation is amongst the largest in private ownership in New Caledonia.
This private ownership status, the physical isolation of Cap Boccage and the historic arrogance of the Ballande family make for lax mining methods which have resulted in serious environmental damage.
One particular event in 2008 was the collapse of a sump after heavy rain. This tailing’s pond used to contain the acidic minerals scraped off the mountain tops to access the nickel ore was built too close to the typically very steep edge the of the operation.
The resulting collapse of the containment wall sent the toxic sludge crashing down into the coral lagoon below. The sea was red, the colour of the soil, killing all sea life for near on 20 kilometres along the coast. Florent, his father Vincent and 20 to 30 locals barricaded and occupied the main entrance to the mine for several months. He has made it his mission to protest not only the environmental concerns surrounding open cast mining but to question the legitimacy of their operation in his area on cultural grounds as well.
The group that he has formed includes staunch unionists, tribal elders, and many young people. It is an umbrella group that includes 27 different environmental and independence groups and is firmly anti colonialst, anti neo-colonialist; specifically the increasing power of foreign multinationals. Their struggle is very relevant to what we have lived with the still-on-the-reef Rena and what we are living now that mining seems to be gearing up around the country.
They want to make links with groups and individuals here in Aotearoa, this is a rare opportunity not to be missed. We will also be showing a short introduction to a film by Jim Marbrook that is centred on their struggle that will be screened at next years film festival.
Come and hear them speak at the Auckland Trades Hall on Monday night 7:30pm about their experiences and their struggle. 147 Great North Rd Grey Lynn, Auckland