Unique Free Speech Corner to open soonBy Alan Tristram
What links a new Kāpiti civic amenity with King Dick (Richard Seddon)
Nelson Mandela,and Martin Luther King? asks Cr K Gurunathan.
The answer is oratory – and he says Kāpiti will lead the way soon with a range of oratory and free speech at it’s own version of Speakers’ Corner.
The new free speech area, to be opened on March 4, will be one of very few places in New Zealand officially sanctioned by a local council as a permanent space for unfettered free speech.
Putting Kāpiti on the map
It’s expected to put Kāpiti on the map as an innovative local democracy.
Cr Gurunathan (Guru), who originally came up with the idea in a presentation to the Kāpiti Coast District Council 10 years ago, has welcomed the new plan (the former council approved the plan then, but little was done to implement the idea).
The plans for the Kāpiti’s Speakers’ Corner have been drawn up by a new ‘Friends of Free Speech’ group.
The Friends say the Corner will be open to all, with as few rules as possible.
It will be conducted in the spirit of Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park’, promoting democracy and free speech.
If all goes to plan, Mayor Jenny Rowan will officially open Speakers’ Corner, next to the Paraparaumu Library, on March 4, shortly after the official opening of the new KCDC building next door.
The Council kaumatua, Don Te Maipi, will bless the Corner and will be one of the first three keynote speakers.
And it’s hoped the third speaker will be the well-known trade union organizer and ex-KCDC councillor, Lyndy McIntyre.
Speakers’ Corner Code
The introduction to a Code for Speakers says: ‘Speakers’ Corner is your platform. You can use it express any idea, opinion or viewpoint as long as it is lawful.
‘Our council, which is the landowner, says amplifiers and loudspeakers should not be used.
The area is intended for citizens, but not for anyone wanting to use it for commercial gain.’
The Friends also ask speakers to observe a simple code of conduct:
- Respect other people’s opinions
- Avoid offensive language
- Be courteous to other speakers and listeners
- Limit your time to a maximum of 15 minutes