Close Waihopai Spy Base

Reprinted from The Common Good, No 40, Lent 2007

Graeme White

As I looked across the two barbed wire fences which surround the Waihopai spybase outside of Blenhiem, I realised the fences were a direct result of the walls we erect around our lives. It was an amazing spiritual insight for me. The unequal distribution of resources throughout the planet feeds war. The lack of acceptance, tolerance, trust and honesty flowing from a failure to recognise Christ in our neighbour fills New Zealand jails and breeds a climate where monitoring each other has become ‘normal.’

The 28 or so protestors at Waihopai come from differing backgrounds, but I felt we all shared a concern for the planet’s inhabitants and all were working for a more open and inclusive society. I met several others who were living partially by subsistence farming. I enjoyed meeting with Sam Land from the Hokianga Catholic Worker, who carried a wooden cross from a recent Pine Gap action, and a young Scottish couple, Clare and Colin, who live near the Riverside Community and shared bedding with Sam and home brew with many. For me, living as I am outside the money system (subsistence farming), is an attempt to strangle central government which I believe forms humanity’s greatest threat.

The spiritual presence which flows from a life of self-sacrifice regardless of beliefs (mostly found in mothers) enveloped the group at Waihopai creating an oasis of acceptance and tolerance right through from the Friday night when Nicky Hager spoke in Blenhiem about his book The Hollow Men and my first ever sighting of a comet in the clear Marlborough skies through to the pack-up on Sunday morning. The weekend was a rare and beautiful experience that bought to mind Christ’s paradoxical teaching, ‘those who love their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for my sake will find it.’

Graeme White is a member of the Christchurch CW.

According to Steffan Browning writing in the Marlborough Express (20 January 2007), the Waihopai base is a cog in the US/UK war and corporate business machine, which is at war in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theatres and acts as probably the world’s biggest terrorist organisation. This machine is causing more human suffering, social dislocation and environmental damage than any other organisations on earth. The Echelon system that Waihopai is part of feeds its eavesdropped information to that machine. This links New Zealand directly to these wars.

First announced in 1987, the Waihopai electronic intelligence-gathering base is operated by New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in the interests of the foreign Powers grouped together in the super-secret UKUSA Agreement (which shares global electronic and signals intelligence among the intelligence agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ).

Waihopai’s two satellite interception dishes (shielded from public view by giant domes) intercept a huge volume of telephone calls, telexes, faxes, e-mail and computer data communications. It spies on our Asia/Pacific neighbours, and forwards the material on to the major partners in the UK-USA Agreement, specifically the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Its targets include the United Nations and international communications involving New Zealanders. The codename for this – Echelon – has become notorious worldwide as the vast scope of its spying has become public.

New Zealand is an integral, albeit junior, part of a global spying network, a network that is ultimately accountable only to its own constituent agencies (intelligence/spying), not governments, and certainly not to the New Zealand public..

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