Film Night: ‘Antifa – The Film’

“How bad does it have to be before you fight back?
Because if we agree it was fine to fight the nazis in WW2, what about when they had just gained power? What about when they were an ascendant fascist political force or what about, as antifascists argue, when they were just starting out, when it would have been easier to stop their movement…”

Through interviews with anti-fascist organizers, historians, and political theorists in the US and Germany, the 2017 US documentary ‘Antifa – The Film’ discusses what fascism is and also explores the broader meaning of ‘Antifa’. That is, ‘who are anti-fascists? What motivates them to risk their lives to fight the far right? What is the history of militant anti-fascism and why is it relevant again today? How is anti-fascism connected to a larger political vision that can stop the rise of fascism and offer us visions of a future worth fighting for?’

Produced shortly after Charlottesville, the film also takes the viewer to scenes of modern opposition to fascists by Antifa in US – from Washington to Berkeley and Charlottesville.

Antifa: The Film will be followed by a discussion on opposing the rise of the far right in Aotearoa New Zealand.

6.30pm Wednesday 28 August, The Pyramid Club, 272 Taranaki St, Wgtn

Entry by donation.

The film is also a facebook event.

Sellner 2 : NZ Media 0 – How the right manipulates the media

How a simple donation of $1242 bought a far-right demagogue plenty of air time in NZ.

In May, Patrick Gower of TV3’s Newshub started a series of investigations into the ideological background of the alleged Christchurch killer. He started off with a melodramatic and self-pitying mea culpa where he admitted to have completely ignored the existence of a far-right movement in NZ. Like most journalists, politicians or SIS spies.

Gower then produced three moderately interesting reports about various neo-Nazi groups and individuals, including Philip Arps who has recently been convicted for distributing the alleged killer’s video.

After a pause of a few weeks, Gower continued on Monday, 1 July 2019, with an instalment reporting links between the Austrian Identitarian Movement and the NZ far right. He showed a video of a group in Christchurch protesting against the signing of the UN Migration Compact, during which Winston Peters was called a traitor who should be hanged. One person, Philip Arps, made throat-cutting gestures.

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Winston Peters revels in death threats

On 30 June, TV3 Newshub screened a report by Patrick Gower on “white supremacists’ death threats against Winston Peters”. While the report does a good job of highlighting how the identitarians are the new face of neo-Nazism and their international connections, it ends up being a promotional video for Winston Peters.

The report shows a far-right rally in Christchurch against the UN Migration Compact a few weeks before the March 15 attacks, during which Philip Arps – currently in prison for sharing and promoting the video of the Christchurch killer – and others call Winston Peters a traitor and want him hanged. Arps can be seen making a throat-slitting gesture. Peters reaction to the clip is that – as always – evil foreigners are to blame for this, this time “a bunch of neo-Nazis in Austria”. Gower concludes from that, without Peters confirming it, that he is talking about Martin Sellner from the Austrian Identitarian Movement.

Sellner is currently under investigation by Austrian authorities for a possible involvement in the Christchurch attack by forming a terrorist organisation with the killer. Which explains why Peters now wants to put as much distance as possible between himself and anyone from the identitarian movement, here or elsewhere.

We’ve seen how deadly serious the far right are in their death threats. But why is someone shouting “hang him” at a rally worth a special investigation by Patrick Gower, when for example Green MP Golriz Ghahraman receiving far more explicit death threats is hardly worth a few lines in the media? A lot of people in this country have heard worse threats against them than “hang him”, and when they complained they were told to harden up and were accused of being against free speech.

Peters then goes on the attack against the National Party and in particular Simon Bridges for also being opposed to the UN Migration Compact, which culminates in this statement: “Mr Bridges was allowing a bunch of neo-Nazis in Austria to reflect his opinions and now he is part of a campaign to get someone murdered in our country.” While the first part is entirely correct, it is also not new. What Gower does not mention is that this information was revealed by the GCSB in a Parliamentary Committee on June 21.

It does seem that National’s position on the UN Migration Compact was based on a fear-mongering campaign of the far right. And the fact that they removed the petition against it from their web site immediately after the Christchurch attack shows that they knew it. This was then topped by Simon Bridges first lying that the petition was removed as part of periodic archiving and then later blaming a “junior staffer” for it.

But this accusation that Bridges fell for some fake news distributed by the far right seems a bit rich coming from Peters. Because only two years ago, in March 2017, it was Peters who was the hero of the identitarian European Students Association at Auckland University.

Back then, Peters held a speech at Victoria University about the value of free speech. The NZ Herald wrote at the time: “During his speech to students he questioned the media’s role in causing the ‘European’ group to shut down. He accused journalists of suppressing dissenting voices, and on his way out, unashamedly signed a cartoon of a frog named Pepe – the most popular symbol of the alt-right. … Asked about signing the Pepe poster, Peters said ‘give me a break, a student asked me to sign a piece of paper and I couldn’t see the whole thing’”.

This denial sounds rather lame, given that there is a picture of Peters proudly holding the poster up and smiling into the camera. But it made Peters the hero of the identitarians on 4chan. The Herald quotes some reactions: “Guess who just got my vote!!”, “Winston is /ourguy/, right? I want someone to get rid of the Indians and Chinese, those f****** are stealing our country right out from under us.”

The local identitarians also knew about the importance of influencing the upcoming elections: “As we all know, meme magic is enormously powerful. Bill English has lost the election, it belongs to Winston,” the Herald quotes one of them. They even wanted to take over NZ First: “We need to start influencing NZFirst both directly and through Young NZFirst.”

Peters was not objecting to any of this when it benefited him, but now is all enraged about it and wants the SIS to “investigate how Sellner and the European Identitarian movement influenced so many New Zealanders”.

It’s Peters’ old routine – condemn it when it comes from another country, use it when it comes from here. Unfortunately, Patrick Gower fell for this utter hypocrisy.

Public Meeting On Fascism and The Far Right

Since the Christchurch attacks more and more people are speaking about the existence of a far-right presence in NZ but it also needs to be understood as part of a global right-wing extremist movement. What happened in Christchurch did not happen in a vacuum, the far-right continue to be active here.

Just in the first weeks of June there were racist attacks in Auckland, the etching of a Swastika into a grass berm in Te Horo, and then on 14 June outside the Christchurch court a person played nazi music and made racist comments during a court-hearing for the Christchurch killer.

At a recent trans-Tasman conference in Auckland Muslim women said that Islamophobia is worse now than it was before the Christchurch terror attack.

Come to the WARF meeting and hear speakers on a range of topics, including:
Giacomo Lichtner talking the rise of fascism in the ’20s and parallels to today
– a researcher on online radicalisation and the alt-right
– and others on white supremacy and the far-right in NZ

Followed by a discussion on what all this means for us now & what we can do as a community going ahead.

Friday 28 June 2019 6:30pm – 8:30pm

St Andrews on the Terrace, 30 The Terrace, Wellington

Public Meeting on Fascism and the Far Right in NZ

Join us for public meeting on Fascism and the Far Right in NZ

  • Hear speakers on a range of topics, including:
    the rise of fascism in the ’20s and parallels to today
  • online radicalisation and the alt-right
  • white supremacy in NZ

followed by a discussion on what all this means for us now & what we can do as a  community going ahead.

Friday 28 June
St. Andrews on the Terrace
30 The Terrace, Wellington

Organised by Wellington Against Racism and Fascism (WARF)

Download the poster here

Fighting Back

As part of the National Day of Action against Racism over 200 people marched in Wellington. Speakers came from various religious communities, unions, refugee groups and other NGOs, including the President of The international Muslim Association of New Zealand Tahir Nawaz, Ibrahim Omer from Changemakers, Gayaal Iddamalgoda from the Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign, Guled Mire of 3rdCultureMinds, Sam Huggard, from the Council of Trade Unions and PSA delegate Ulualofaiga Mareko.

Many speakers pointed out that thousands showed their support for the Muslim community after the Christchurch terror attack but now it is also time to show our opposition to racism and fascism. ‘We will make racists and fascists afraid again’ was stated.

We need to understand that racism is entrenched in this country. We need to know the history of this land since it was annexed by the British state.

Christchurch did not occur in a vacuum.

Coverage of the National Day of Action can be found here on Radio NZ.


March on Saturday 18th May

Join the National Day of Action against racism – 1pm at Civic Square, Saturday 18 May.

On March 15th, Christchurch witnessed the worst act of terrorism in New Zealand’s modern history.

Not since the 19th century wars to enforce British law and culture has the country experienced such an act of violence on home soil.

We need to confront the causes of racism. We need to to educate, challenge ideas, change minds, and transform our society.

March together against racism


March Together Against Racism

On Saturday, 18 May, WARF is participating in the National Day of Action against fascism and racism. At 1pm that day we will be marching against racism.

If you are keen to assist in organising this event and joining in longterm planning to stop fascism, come along to our organising meetings. We are meeting at 7.30pm on Mondays at Thistle Hall.

Email us for further details or check out our facebook: The march is also a facebook event

This Is NZ

“SHOCKING. SURPRISED. An attack like that in our peaceful country? Christchurch is such an open, multicultural city. How could that possibly happen? ‘The end of our innocence’. This is not NZ.”

These are the common reactions to the 15/3 terrorist attack in Christchurch. But like other stereotypes, they largely refer to myths. People want to believe that there is no far right threat in NZ, that this place is openminded and multicultural.

But racism is not new. This land is built on racism. It was annexed and taken through war. The NZ lawbook has been full of racist laws, such as the Suppression of Rebellion Act or the Chinese Immigrants Act that imposed an import tax on immigrants from China.

Islamophobia is also not new to this country. Most Muslims will tell you that they have experienced racial abuse at some stage. In the early 2000s in Christchurch, as well as in Wellington, Somali refugees have had credible death threats delivered to their homes by neoNazi groups. After 9/11 houses of Muslim leaders in NZ’s bible belt suburb of Mt Roskill were attacked.

And attacks on Mosques have also happened before. In 2005, windows were smashed at an Auckland Mosque. In Dunedin people have reported “eggs being thrown at the mosque, sometimes in response to events overseas.”

The existence of far right groups who terrorise the neighbourhood, especially in Christchurch, is also well known. Anyone who has lived there can attest to that. Radio NZ’s Guyon Espiner recently wrote in The Spinoff: “I remember the skinheads too. We lived in a six bedroom flat on Hagley Avenue in the early 1990s and they’d walk squat and ugly down to Addington. I have a vivid memory of them marching down Hagley Ave as I watched in silence from the top floor….Yes, Christchurch had a problem with racism even then.”

In the 1980s crosses were burnt outside leftwing activists’ houses, KKK style, in Auckland and Christchurch.

As recent as February, three Muslim women were attacked on the street by a group of skinheads in Dunedin. A witness said: “Two skinheads and a girl came up trying to rip their [veils] off their heads, saying: ‘Go back to your own … country!’…. A group of people stood watching the attack but did not step in.”

It is impossible to deny that there has been a rise in far right groups in the last couple of years. We all know about the National Front and its offsplits like the “Right Wing Resistance”. Recently, there has been the European Students Association at Auckland University who made headlines in 2017, because of their slogans that were borrowed from the Nazis. They were chased off campus but still exist.

Then there is the Wellington based Dominion Movement, an openly white supremacist group of young men who pose in macho postures with their faces pixilated. On their web site they say they are nonviolent but they do organise fight clubs. One day after the Christchurch massacre, they put up a notice on their website denying any connection to the perpetrator (had anyone suggested that?), and then immediately portraying them as the victims of persecution: “In light of the atmosphere which is emerging in the wake of these events, it will be impossible for the Dominion Movement to continue our work.”

Even more bizarre is the notice the National Front has put up: “At the present time, the events in Christchurch do not involve the NZ National Front or its members. The National Front does not condone or agree with this type of wanton murder.” At the present time? This type of murder – other murder is OK? WTF?

Both organisations are not distancing themselves from the ideology, just from the mass murder. Just enough to avoid prosecution, should terrorism charges be laid.

Sorry, but this is NZ. Not the NZ most of us want, but it is here. Stating that the mass murderer of Christchurch has an Australian passport is a convenient distraction. He lived in Dunedin, that’s where he got his guns, that’s where he practised shooting and that’s where he got his support.

The problem with these little ‘white’ lies is that they create blindness. The existence of extreme right groups and networks is simply ignored. A few commentators have raised the issue of why the SIS, whose budget has increased dramatically in the last 20 years, did not have this guy on their radar. Neither did the Australian ASIO. The problem is that these agencies are notorious for their tunnel vision. They have been monitoring Muslims and the left, but not the far right.

Unfortunately, this is not an oversight – they are biased from the top down.

Human rights lawyer Deborah Manning, who is on a government advisory panel for the intelligence agencies, says she has raised the issue of increasing Islamophobia before. Yet the SIS annual report does not mention a threat from the extreme right. It does talk a lot about Muslims, though. She also said in a Stuff article that questions need to be answered: Why these attackers were not on the radar and why the community, which has been under the most suspicion, are the victims of this.”

More and more evidence is emerging that some agencies had been aware of the killer. He had come to the attention of authorities in Bulgaria in 2016 and 2018 because he did a tour of historic battle sites of Christians vs Muslims, which apparently raised alarm bells over there. It would have been normal procedure for the Bulgarian authorities to pass that sort of information on to the person’s country of origin. So did the ASIO or the SIS really not have any information, or did they just file it and forget about it?

What really needs to be addressed is the amount of space white supremacist and neoNazi ideas are given. Because the normalisation of this type of discourse is what encourages people to take action, or to egg each other on. And that is where we have to come back to a number of visitors we have had in the last year.

When Canadian provocateurs Stefan Molyneaux and Lauren Southern claimed that they were brutally oppressed by the Auckland City Council because it wouldn’t let them spread their racism in a council owned venue, a range of people came to their defence. The “Free Speech Coalition” was formed and organised several rallies up and down the country in support of these clowns. The spokesperson was Chris Trotter, who many people locate on the left. That gave the whole operation an air of respectability. It is no coincidence that the “Free Speech” people have been very quiet since Friday. They have a lot to answer for.

Former Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy was spot on in her piece for the spinoff immediately after the attack. She said to the “free speech” advocates: do not write an oped today crying about how shocking yesterday’s murders were. Because you helped make it happen. You helped normalise hatred in our country. You helped those murderers feel that they were representing the thoughts of ordinary New Zealanders.”

Acknowledging that all this is NZ, that a terrorist isn’t someone from a faraway country but can be your neighbour, and confronting it would be a first step to undoing that.


(Originally published in aargh, #10, March 2019)