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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 No. 3. 15th March 1972

Organisation Lacking

Organisation Lacking

The lack of organisation from the South Island end was beginning to show. A demonstration without focus and without audience in Timaru could have been dispensed with. The Washdyke demo lacked energy or organisation. The organisation got the demonstrators there, but once it got them there it did nothing with them.

On this wet note the demonstrators moved on to the real focus, the Baker-nunn Satellite Tracking Installation of the U.S.A.F. at Mt. John, by Lake Tekapo. Camp was set up on Canterbury University land by the Lake. Nothing was organised. A number of people climbed the mountain to have a look at the base, and came back with a glowing report of the numbers of cops organised in defence. Meanwhile mathematicians calculated that at least 80 police and their dogs must have gone to the base. Local hotels and the army base were full up A local spy reported that two helicopters had been flown in the day before.

As evening closed in an increasing number of people made their way up the sides of Mt. John, a 1-2 hour climb in the dark. In camp a meeting around a bonfire failed to produce any speakers. By about 9pm there were twenty demonstrators on the dark and windy top of the mountain. They were sitting on a small rocky knoll which descended in a a 6 foot bluff on one side, and fell away fairly gently towards the U.S. base, 100 yards away on the other. A police officer told the demonstrators not to move from there, and moved a number of his men, including two dog handlers with their dogs up towards them. Someone on the demonstrators side let off a skyrocket end a number of crackers. The inspecter told his dog-handlers "use your dog and disperse that crowd". Two ran up the hill towards the seated demonstrators. One was screaming "fuck off, fuck off" This cop reached the top and began kicking the seated demonstrators. A sixteen year old Christchurch high-school student was kicked full in the face, but no-one else was seriously hurt.