I have been photographing activism in Aotearoa/New Zealand since 2014.
Behind disagreements in political and social views, there are only people; and more often than not, we all want the same things: clean air, water and food, rights and recognition, decent wages and a future.
From August to October 2015, I joined a group of activists known as Show Us Ya Text who were campaigning to make the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement available to the New Zealand public.
The TPPA was an attempted international agreement driven by the United States to change the rules of international trade and investment in a way that would have favoured big business and undermined the public interest.
New Zealand was originally involved in the TPPA in the hope of getting better access for dairy and other agricultural products into the US market.
This means that under the TPPA regulations, the New Zealand government could have been sued by overseas corporations, environmental protection would have been harder, Te Tiriti o Waitangi would have been undermined, medicine prices would increase and local businesses and workers would lose out on jobs.
After months trying to raise awareness about the risks the deal would bring to New Zealand’s sovereignty, the campaign came to an end with 26 activists being arrested in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington, New Zealand.
They had put their bodies and freedom on the line for their communities and for the values that underpin our society – justice, transparency, democracy – which the trade deal threatened.
The TPPA was signed in February 2016, but it died a year later without ever coming into force when the United States withdrew from the agreement.
Unfortunately, the corporate interests that lay behind it are still around.