Wellington Scoop

Profiting from war: a conference in a city council venue

By Jan Bieringa
Open letter to Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, city councillors and council staff.

I am disgusted and appalled that the conference of the NZ Defence Industry Association has been held in Wellington, but most of all that it was held in a public venue which belongs to the ratepayers of Wellington.

There were 550 delegates including representatives of weapons manufacturers. The principal sponsor was Lockhead Martin, the world’s largest arms manufacturer who make and maintain nuclear weapons.

There can be no business as usual when your hideous business is profiting from bombing, death and destruction. What greed and two-faced behaviour.

This is completely inappropriate and I believe Wellingtonians (as citizens of a nuclear-free city) deserve an apology. Shame on you Wellington City Council.

Jan Bieringa is a Wellington resident who participated in the protest against the conference

Read also:
Peace activists arrested outside defence industry conference
Profiting from death and destruction


  1. Ian Apperley, 19. November 2015, 18:46

    It would be worth the author putting together an OIA request asking how much the ratepayers contributed to this.

  2. CC, 19. November 2015, 22:05

    More appropriately since it is a WCC matter – http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/dealing-with-the-council/official-information-request/official-information-request-form

    Thank you to those who, along with Jan and Valerie, have made an effort to expose the Council’s unethical association with the arms industry.

  3. Andrew, 19. November 2015, 23:11

    Wellington Scoop, you need an editorial column for this type of letter.

  4. Anabel, 20. November 2015, 7:16

    Well done Jan – a great exposure of the sneaky duplicitous actions of the WCC.

  5. syranose, 20. November 2015, 8:18

    Nobody needs a defense force until they need it badly. The Japanese flew a spy plane over Wellington’s totally undefended harbour once. And Wright’s Hill guns were only installed years after the war threat had been turned away by the spilling of American and Australian blood. History tells us that wishful thinking about wars tends not to stop them from happening. Wellington, like all cities in NZ should be supportive of the defense force it may need in future. NIMBYism doesn’t serve the city well.

    Seems from the link above that the nature of this conference is very much in line with encouraging Wellington’s Smart Capital theme and encouraging local jobs:

    “The exhibiting companies represent the broad range of industry engagement with the NZDF. Companies from apparel to food service, property and facilities management through to personal safety and protection equipment are represented. The most significant sector represented is the electronic engineering, systems integration and communications sector with 13 of the 45 exhibiting companies. With an annual budget of over $2.1 billion, Defence is a significant opportunity for New Zealand companies directly and through prime or lead contractors.
    These opportunities offer significant economic contributions to a number of regional economies and also nationally… Using Statistics NZ national input-output table calculations, an estimate of the economic impact of NZ Defence Expenditure is approximately 2500 full time jobs, generating a conservative $125Million in wages and $60Million in profits. Historically 80% of Defence’s OPEX has been transacted with NZ providers, and as expected major CAPEX is serviced through international OEMs, who are in-turn supported by NZ Industry to deliver for the Crown. Industry makes a significant contribution to ensuring NZDF is the best equipped and prepared to do the job required of it by government, whether that be protecting New Zealand’s oceans resources, assisting with humanitarian disaster relief in the region, search and rescue, or contributing to New Zealand’s security both here and overseas.”

    The old saying goes, that those who are ignorant of history are bound to repeat it.

  6. Peter, 20. November 2015, 13:03

    Oh dear Syrahnose – where to start? “Nobody needs a defense force until they need it badly.” NZ has a defence force and Jan Beiringa hasn’t said the country should not have one!
    A spy plane flew over Wellington? Big deal. Spy satellites are constantly passing over the whole country with more sophisticated systems than anyone would have conceived when the Japanese plane flew over the city. Not only that, the whole of the country is at all times under the covert and overt electronic surveillance of friends, foes and who knows who else.
    Logically, Wellington supporting the defence of the country is a different issue to the city council allowing premises to be used for flogging of the wares of the defence industry, especially when the event is financed by a company which produces weapons that are not compatible with the city’s nuclear free status. Anyway, Gerry Brownlee doesn’t need an expo on the parliamentary doorstep to ascertain what his department may need to function effectively.
    Why cut and past a lengthy PR diatribe that conflates a responsibility of the state with a tawdry shop-front of an industry that deals in death. The most telling part of the blurb is reference to $60m profit – sort of undermines the necessity argument. Sounds more like ‘death for dollars’ rather than ethical self-defence provision.
    Some old sayings are trite and irrelevant in some people’s hands – in reality, neither ignorance nor an informed perspective of history is relevant to the Council giving approval for a ratepayer-owned facility to be used for a questionable purpose.

  7. Cr Helene Ritchie, 20. November 2015, 18:20

    As the initiator of the Declaration of of Wellington as a nuclear weapons free zone, with which we led New Zealand in 1982, I strongly object to the holding of a weapons conference in the capital in council buildings. At the time of the Declaration I was the Labour Leader on the Wellington City Council.
    The weapons conference was headlined as strengthening our ANZAC relationship but was actually supporting making money out of war and weapons and hosting 200 of the world’s largest weapons and arms manufacturers. It was sponsored by the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, which operates nuclear weapons systems in the UK and US.

  8. Aiya., 20. November 2015, 18:37

    If only the conference centre was built. A perfect venue.