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Raised voices in protest at helmet rally

Friday June 05, 2020 Written by Katrina Tanirau and Melina Etches Published in Politics
ON YOUR BIKE, MIKE! Mike Tavioni rides single file in the second AAA No 2 Helmets rally yesterday. ON YOUR BIKE, MIKE! Mike Tavioni rides single file in the second AAA No 2 Helmets rally yesterday. KATRINA TANIRAU 20060524

Motorbike helmets rallies will head to Parliament this month, protest organisers say. 

Police faced strong, vocal opposition when they asked protesters to ride in single file during today’s AAA No 2 Helmets rally.

Protesters said it infringed their rights to freedom of expression – but organiser Moana Moeka‘a asked everyone to stay calm and abide by the rules.

Moeka‘a said there would not be another rally next week; instead the plan is to go to the next parliament sitting, later this month, and let their voices be heard there.

Prime Minister Henry Puna has said he respects everyone has an opinion on the issue, but they will not be repealing Section 86A of the Transport Amendment Act that requires compulsory helmets for all motorbike users.

The second AAA NO 2 Helmets Motorbike Rally was mostly attended by those who didn’t make it to the first one, including Democratic Party MP for Ivirua, Agnes Armstrong.

Armstrong was not able to take part in the initial protest last Friday, because she was in Mangaia. She voted against the new law in Parliament on March 25 and is the only MP to actively take part in the protests.

“It is our choice, our rights, we have our choice to make - whether it is right or wrong.”

Although Armstrong has the luxury of owning a four-wheel vehicle, she loves to drive her motorbike to the store and for errands. 

“It’s easier to park, I don’t drive fast, there are more concerning issues like drink driving and speeding,” she said.

“I voted against the new Transport Amendment Act and I’m going to stand by my decision.” 

Mauri Boaza and Pokotea Maeva came “all the way from Titikaveka” to show their support at the rally.

Boaza said he only drives his bike short distances like to the shop, and although he owns a truck, he depends on his bike a lot to save on petrol.

“We stick to 40 kilometres when we drive, sometimes we drive slower. We don’t drive at night, we are at home,” he said.

“What the organiser is doing is good for us, we didn’t quite know what to do against this new helmet law; we needed someone to lead us, Moana is for us for the people, we want to show how we feel.”

Maeva feels the same way.

“I want all those who support the rally, but just stay home and comment, to get up, come out and join the helmet protest rally and join us at the parliament for a peaceful protest,” Maeva said.

“Don’t just sit there at home, come along and join us, put your words into action, we are a democratic country, government just passed this law without talking to us the people.” 

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